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Google Pixel 3 review: Premium camera in a smaller package

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 12 December 2018, 12:16 IST
Google Pixel 3

The 'ironing out of bugs' and a price reduction, would make Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the default Android smartphone recommendations. For now, that honour goes to the recently launched OnePlus 6T.

Let me just get this out of the way. The Pixels are the most intelligent Android smartphones out there. They have the best in-class cameras (with just a single lens) and have a beautiful design and a fantastic screen.

Oh, and they come with one of the best software experiences you can get on an Android smartphone.

The problem is, the Pixel 3 starts at Rs 71,000, and has a few too many problems to justify the price. On the other hand, take out the camera and put it in any other form factor. Slap a Rs 20,000 price tag and people will be lining up for days to buy one. That the cameras are so good almost overwhelms every other ‘small issue’ with the smartphone.

The portrait mode on the Pixel 3 has been upgraded but is still far behind the likes of the iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 9. That’s one area where Google needs to push a software update and catch up with the competition.

I’ve been using the smaller model, the Pixel 3, for a couple of weeks now, and let me just tell you, that it is one of the most compact handsets out there. If you’ve ever forgotten what one-hand usage is - with the likes of the Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS Max taking over - then just get your hands on a Pixel 3 and rediscover the magic. It’s also easily pocketable.

One of the downsides of having a glass back is that the smartphone isn’t entirely grippy. I happened to have dropped it just the once - from a relatively short height - and there is a visible crack at the back. Luckily, the rear-camera survived the damage.

All the hardware inside the Pixel 3 package is top notch. You’ve got Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 4GB of RAM it comes with Android Pie. On a day-to-day basis, you will not notice any lag. Even gaming is a treat (albeit you lose the screen real estate). The Pixel 3 is buttery smooth.

Compared it to a OnePlus 6T though and you’ll notice some slowdowns or lags. Beyond the OnePlus 6T though, The Pixel 3 breezes through its Android experience like none other.

One of the other downsides to the Pixel 3, as compared to the Samsung Galaxy’s or the OnePlus’ is the battery life. I barely scrape through a 24-hour period without the need of charging it at least once. My OnePlus 6T and Galaxy S9+ easily last between one and two days. The Pixel 3 has the Adaptive Battery technology - it comes with Android Pie - that learns your usage patterns and makes the phone’s battery smarter. Still, I didn’t notice any significant gains over my use period.

 

Some pointers

Now that you got the gist of what I liked about the Pixel 3, here are some quick pointers:

- There are USB-C earphones in the box that sound quite good and act like Google’s own PixelBuds.
- There is no headphone jack, but there is a USB-C to 3.5mm converter included for your own usage
- I was surprised that the speakers turned out to be quite loud and clear with no distortion, except at over 90% volume.
- Haptic feedback on Android smartphones have been lagging compared to the iPhones. With the Pixel 3, that is no more the case.
- The Pixel 3 has a feature where you can squeeze the sides (trust me, it’s pretty easy to get used to) and trigger the Google Assistant.

Verdict

The Pixel 3 is a refined Android smartphone. It’s taken the best bits - camera and design - and made them even better. On a day-to-day basis, the Pixel 3 is a pleasure to use. The Pixel 3’s is a simple to use yet elegant smartphone. In today’s world, this fits perfectly in the middle of the pack. Google didn’t take any risks, but it didn’t need to.

Despite the camera that is in a league of its own, the Pixel 3 just doesn’t justify its price tag. If only Google would realise that and reduce the MRP of the smartphone.

Within a year, the smartphone may look dated, but that camera will still continue to impress people down the road. If you’re willing to pay as much as an iPhone and don’t want the iOS experience, get the Pixel 3. It’s undoubtedly worth it. It’s just not a phone for the masses, like the OnePlus 6T.

First published: 22 November 2018, 12:18 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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