Science & Tech
Google Pixel 3 Review: Tough Call
Among Star Trek fans Kobayashi Maru is synonymous with no-win scenario this year in mobile tech my Kobayashi Maru is the pixel 3 review because this phone is marred by so much controversy and compromise that phone geeks will Flay me for even suggesting it’s worth its asking price at the same time the normal folks at whom this phone is aimed will see a fantastic iPhone alternative for $200 less than the 10s and for them the defects I call out may seem barely worth a mention well as usual reality is somewhere in between so this is the pixel three not the larger three XL and I chose it mainly to avoid the xl’s prodigious not well in the bargain I got probably the best one-handed phone around if you’re someone who’s always out doing stuff you don’t always have two hands for your phone this size is perfect the back plates edge finish makes it easy to slip into a pocket it doesn’t get all greasy like most glass phones and against the skin it feels pleasantly smooth like it’s made of chalkboard in the looks department this is a pleasant evolution when you compare it to the first generation pixel of 2016 there’s a sense of minimalist balance here that I can quite admire but bit by bit the fun seems to be draining from Google’s design a bunch of us affectionately called last year’s pixel to excel the Panda because of its cheeky black and white paneling and the year before that there was a fetching really blue paint job this year white is white black is black and pink is well not pink there’s nothing wrong with understated design but we already have a big tech company building understated phones I just think the folks competing with it should I don’t know think different now in possibly the pixels most important feature the Google does do things differently in a world of ever multiplying cameras on phones the pixel three sticks with one at least on the back well I do find that limiting compared to other options the pixel continues to be the camera I trust the most because I can pick it up snap a quick click and four times out of five no joke it’s gonna give me a better shot than I could get out of any other phone with the same low effort Google has gotten so good at processing images through its hdr+ approach that any time I don’t want to tote around my big studio camera I shoot stills with a pixel I’m not saying the pixel three always takes the most accurate photo it’s pretty obvious there was a ton of processing involved in this picture but look that’s what it took to keep my face visible with all the backlighting from the sunset and notice that it also preserves the detail in the lights of the surrounding buildings that’s not easy neither is properly exposing for the light bulbs of this shot which the Galaxy Note nine blew out a little bit in this picture my new favorite cafe in London and it’s a little too vibrant but not cartoonishly so it’s just full of life and depth that’s how I remember this place being and that’s how a lot of photos come out of the pixel 3 it’s great as usual the computational tricks have multiplied here at Google uses handshakes to its advantage to make a crisper zoom photo it’s not always as crisp as you’ll get from a phone with a dedicated telephoto lens but definitely a better zoom shot than we’ve had before there’s also a new low light mode I was just hitting phones when this video went to press finally giving Huawei a run for its money with extreme low-light photography and the reason I’ve relied on a pixel for my backup video camera for the past two years is still here as well the best video stabilization in phones one last point on optics given Google’s stubborn stick-to-itiveness on the single back camera it’s interesting it opted to double up on the selfie side but like I pin tit in the hands on it works having the wide-angle shooter for group shots is quite useful and it’s nice to have the option of switching back to the higher-quality narrow lens a new software here to by the way switch to photo booth mode and the phone will automatically shoot when it decides your face will make for a good picture kind of like making life into a YouTube thumbnail and for better or worse so we’ve got an A+ hand feel a plus camera and I might as well say right here that it’s also got awesome haptics from the vibe motor phone calls are clear and comfortable thanks in part to the small form factor and the front firing speakers are surprisingly loud so where’s all that controversy I promised well it’s in the display for one thing not in color quality this year and this panel is beautiful but it’s also quite dim so get ready to crank that brightness if you spend a lot of time outdoors that might be part of the reason battery life is my second complaint apparently not even removing the headphone jack could free up enough space for a bigger power pack so this is a phone I usually need to charge before bed Google makes that easy with wireless charging complete with a photo frame mode for the pixel stand but if you want the faster 10 watt charging that the phone supports for now that $80 pixel stand is your only option until other compatible chargers hit the market there’s actually a lot to this story Android Central has a detailed article on it which I’ll link to in the description feel free to subscribe to the mr.
Mobile on YouTube while you’re down there the pixel 3 also has a few more software hiccups that I’ve come to expect from Google memory management issues mean that doing something as simple as snapping a photo while listening to music sometimes causes Spotify to force clothes and even when it’s working well the pixel 3 forces you to use the new Android PI interface I hate to say it because I love gesture based software and I was hopeful on this front back in the spring but the final product is just kind of confusing the contradictory way the pill works were afflict cycles between the last two apps but a drag causes the carousel of apps to advance the ugly asymmetry of the come-and-go back button the awkward way you need to call up the app drawer with either a double swipe or a long thumb stretch that’s not to say there’s not a lot of great stuff in Android Pi there is it’ll learn which notifications you usually dismiss and offer to hide them going forward that’s nice and it’ll screen spam calls for you to which is a godsend but this basic function you use a hundred times a day opening apps and going home I see it just feels kind of broken I wish Google had just adopted Motorola’s approach to gestures instead that’s a lot of compromise to swallow for a phone that starts at $but consider everything you get here the absence of carrier bloatware the way the phone builds in hardware under the hood so it can evolve over time last year it was the pixel visual core this year it’s the Titan M security chip the earbuds adapter and fast charger all bundled in the box just like they should be the guaranteed software and security updates for three years and a camera that if you called it the best you can get on a smartphone I don’t know if I’d disagree with you look if you’re a phone geek then yet you already know you can sacrifice some of those features for more exciting devices that suit your taste but when I really focus on the most important things phone can offer to most people the pixel three delivers most of them even if at 800 bucks it asks a bit too much for the privilege now that’s still a lot of money so protect that investment with a special case from today’s sponsor at a special price Tech 21s pixel three cases pack impact absorbing materials called flex shock bullet shield that hurts tough as they sound they’re dropped tested 20 times to keep your pixel protected from Falls of over 10 feet and they don’t interfere with wireless charging get 15% off your tech 21 case for the pixel 3 or almost any phone at the link in the description below and thanks to tech 21 for sponsoring this video you’re gonna be seeing a lot more from the pixel 3 in the form of video footage of much weirder and Wilder phones in the next few weeks as phone tober fest rolls on folks be sure to hit that subscribe button if you liked this review and let me know if you’ve bought one of the new pixels already I’d like to hear your experience until next time.
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