Just launched globally, Google has announced the availability of the Pixel 3 (SGD 1,249/USD 799/GBP 739) and Pixel 3 XL (SGD1,399/USD 899/GBP 839) smartphones here in Singapore at an event earlier today. The two new phones retain the characteristic two-tone finish but are a step up from the previous generation of Pixel 2 phones. These will represent the pinnacle of mobile photography and smartphone software available today.
Available from Singtel and new carrier Starhub, and through the Google Store, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones are similar in most regards. The key differences between the devices are the display sizes (5.5-inch vs 6.3-inch), display notch (the XL has the notch, the non-XL doesn’t), and a dual front-facing camera which adds a wide-angle lens (XL has two, non-XL only sports a single lens).
In line with the stellar photographic performance on the Pixel 2 devices from last year, the cameras, which are identical on both devices, boast larger pixels on the hardware front, enabling for better low light performance right off the bat. An upcoming over-the-air update will enable Night Sight, a software enhancement that promises bright, detailed photos in any dimly-lit situation.
That’s just one example of how Google has and continues to use software and AI to enhance the user experience. Top Shot is another of those features, which chooses the best shot from a burst of images, looking at the positioning of subjects and whether they are sufficiently well-posed.
Photobooth reinvents the selfie, empowering the front-facing camera(s) with smarts to recognise when you or your friends smile or make a face. This should give more natural-looking selfies with genuine reactions, by taking away the stress of capturing the image.
Of course, Pixel users, as before, stand to benefit from an unlimited photo and video storage on Google Photo.
That, of course, brings us to storage size, which is a paltry (for 2018) 64GB. That is somewhat mitigated with the bundled storage option for your bulky image files. With the 12.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, and the 8.0-megapixel front-facing one, along with the option to shoot 4K30p video (with optical image stabilisation), that easily adds up.
All the image quality would mean little if the main display you review these photographs on was lousy. But it isn’t: the Google Pixel 3 devices are certified by the UHDA as a premium HDR devices, which also means it has met all colour accuracy and display brightness standards. There are three colour modes: Adaptive (enabled by default, with natural-looking colours), along with Natural (sRGB) and Boosted (sRGB+10%). These cater to different preferences when it comes to colour palettes.
Google’s real value with the Pixel is its tie-ins with the tech giant’s many associated services. The first example of this is Google Lens. Available on other devices, the Pixel 3 takes it up a notch, allowing for real-time image suggestions for actions to be taken on images such as URLs, emails, phone numbers, addresses and QR codes – all done on-device without mode switching or internet connection required. Google Lens can be accessed easily from the native camera app by simply long-pressing on the subject.
Google Assistant is also beefed up, with an out-of-the-box understanding of Singaporean English, demonstrating Google’s commitment to be inclusive and adapt to local cultures and practices.
The Pixel 3 devices are also Youtube Signature Devices, which means they are fully optimised for YouTube, which happens to be Google’s proprietary video streaming service. It comes equipped with native HDR capability, along with an exceptional 360-degree video experience. Videos will load at the fastest possible speeds all while using less bandwidth.
The Pixel phones also come with an 18-watt fast charger, giving 7 hours of use time in 15 minutes of charging. An on-board AI-powered Adaptive Battery prioritises battery power for the most important apps, maximising usage times.
Alongside the Pixel 3, Google has announced the Pixel Stand, a separately-available accessory that functions as a Qi-compliant wireless charger with a few extra nifty features. The Pixel Stand turns the Pixel 3 into a desktop Google Assistant-powered screen. Users are able to play music, interact with their personal Assistant, utilise the screen as a control panel for smart home gadgets, and to use their Pixel to screen albums of photos when idle. Alarms will cause the Pixel to gradually brighten over 15 minutes before the alarm goes off, making waking up a more gentle experience.
In line with many usage-monitoring features seen across devices and applications over the past year, Google has introduced Digital Wellbeing on the Google Pixel 3. Users are able to monitor app usage metrics on the dashboard, and avoid disruptive phone usage at night with Wind Down, which turns the phone’s display greyscale. Flip to Shh activates Do Not Disturb when the device is set screen-side down, helping us easily disconnect when we are in social situations or concentrating on productivity.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are both IP68 water and dust resistant on the outside, but within, they’re protected by Titan M, a proprietary security chip that protects unlock credentials, data encryption, app data and the integrity of the Android OS code itself. Transactions via mobile banking apps and fund transfers are also protected with this feature.
Needless to say, the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will ship with the latest Android 9.0 Pie operating system, and will continue to enjoy priority updates in the future.
The Pixel Stand retails at SGD 119, while the 5.5-inch Google Pixel 3 starts at SGD 1,249 for the 64GB version and SGD 1,399 for the 128GB one.
The larger 6.3″ Google Pixel 3 XL starts at SGD 1,399 for the 64GB variant, and sells at SGD 1,549 for the 128GB one. Both XL and non-XL Pixel 3 phones come in three finishes: Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink. Preorders are open at the Google Store online retail site, and will be available in-stores at Singtel and Starhub from 1 November.