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Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: Google’s new phones get dual selfie cameras and more AI features

Google has finally unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. They are bigger and one of it even comes with a notch. Photography is still a huge focus and it relies a lot on AI to ensure that you capture the perfect shot in any situation.

For this year, the Pixel 3 comes with a larger 5.5″ P-OLED display (Pixel 2: 5.0″) that pushes a Full HD+ resolution of 2160×1080 pixels. Because of its 18:9 display aspect ratio, the Pixel 3 is overall narrower than the Pixel 2 despite having a larger screen. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 XL gets a taller 6.3″ Quad HD+ P-OLED display with a resolution of 2960×1440 pixels. As seen in the earlier leaks, the Pixel 3 XL gets a notch which is probably one of the thickest we’ve seen on an Android device.

In terms of build, the new Pixel 3 series now uses glass instead of aluminium for its back. This not only makes it look more premium but it also enables Qi wireless charging. Under the hood, both runs on a Snapdragon 845 processor that comes with 4GB of RAM like its predecessor. Storage options remain unchanged at 64GB and 128GB which are also non-expandable.

While most smartphone makers are putting two or three cameras at the rear, Google is still sticking to a single 12.2MP f/1.8 dual-pixel rear camera with optical and electronic image stabilisation. What’s new is the front of the Pixel 3 now comes with a dual 8MP selfie camera setup. For normal shots, it has a f/1.8 lens with a 75-degree field of view, while the secondary shooter has a f/2.2 lens with a wider 107-degree field of view which is great for group selfies.

Hardware aside, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL also comes with a couple of new camera features. For the perfect shot all the time, there’s a new AI-powered Top Shot which recommends the best shot when you take a motion photo. The feature will look out for the moment where everyone’s eyes are open and are smiling towards the camera.

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While it lacks an optical zoom lens, the Pixel 3 has Super Res Zoom which claims to preserve details while zooming in. For low light situations, the Pixel 3 will get a new Night Sight feature which will be made available at a later date.

Using AI, the Pixel 3 allows you to take the best selfie without even hitting the shutter button. Just frame the shot and it will know when to capture when you’re smiling or striking a pose. The portrait mode has also been improved and it enables you to adjust the focus levels after the picture is taken. To make your subjects pop, you can also add selective colour effects by turning the background to black and while.

For moments where you need to record a moving object, there’s Motion Auto Focus which keeps your subject sharp while recording a video. Selfie videos are also much steadier now with front facing video stabilisation.

Another benefit of picking up a Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is that you’ll get unlimited storage for photos and videos. Not just in “High Quality” but in “Original Quality”. This will be applicable for photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos until 31 January 2022. After that period, you can still continue to enjoy unlimited storage in High Quality.

The list of AI features doesn’t stop there. During the last I/O event, Google had presented Duplex, an AI based voice assistant which can help to complete phone-based tasks such as booking a table at the restaurant or an appointment at a hairdresser. This feature will be rolling out to the Google Pixel 3 later this year but it will be limited to restaurant reservations in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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To make it less creepy, Google says that they will disclose to businesses that they are speaking to an automated system. Google is also introducing controls to prevent abuse and they will also allow businesses to opt out from receiving calls made by Google Assistant.

For audio, the Pixel 3 series also gets dual front-firing speakers and it still lacks a headphone jack. Out of the box, you’ll receive a Pixel USB-C earbuds and a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter. In terms of dust and water resistance, both models are now rated with IP68 which is a step up from IP67 on the previous model.

For greater peace of mind, the Pixel 3 also gets a custom Titan M security chip which protects your credentials, disk encryption and the integrity of the operating system code itself. Because of this chip, Google claims that this is their most secure phone they have ever built.

The Pixel 3 gets a 2,915mAh battery while the larger Pixel 3 XL comes with a 3,430mAh capacity which is slightly smaller than last year’s Pixel 2 XL (3,520mAh). If you’re not into wireless charging, the Pixel 3 can be charged quickly with an 18W USB-C charger.

As you would expect from a Google device, it runs on Android 9 Pie and it will get 3 years of guaranteed security updates. For this year, the Pixel 3 is available in Clearly White, Just Black, and a new pinkish option called “Not Pink”.

Similar to previous Pixel models, these devices are not officially sold in Malaysia, however, it will be available in Singapore. In our southern neighbour, the Pixel 3 is priced at S$1,249 (about RM3,754) for 64GB storage and S$1,399 (about RM4,205) for the 128GB option. Meanwhile, the larger Pixel 3 XL is going for S$1,399 (about RM4,205) for 64GB and S$1,549 (about RM4,665) for 128GB.

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Compared to last year’s model, the Pixel 3 is more expensive and surprisingly, Google hasn’t increased the amount of RAM and storage options like other Android flagships. If you’re interested to get the Pixel 3 locally, you can probably find offers for imported units in the next few months. It won’t be cheap so be prepared to pay a premium for it.

Alexander Wong