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Google announces Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, prices start at US$799
By Ng Chong Seng - on 10 Oct 2018, 12:46am

Google announces Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, prices start at US$799

At its #MadeByGoogle event today (Oct 9), Google has officially unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones. If you’ve been the following the leaks, especially the most recent one, let’s just say: It’s true. All of it. But if you’re disciplined enough to stay away from the rumors, here’s a recap of the Pixel 3/3 XL’s key specs:

Pixel 3

  • 5.5-inch, 2,160 x 1,080-pixel OLED display
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • 12.2MP dual-pixel rear camera, dual-lens 8MP selfie camera
  • 4GB RAM, 64 or 128GB storage
  • Dual front-firing stereo speakers
  • 2,915mAh battery + Qi wireless charging
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • USB Type-C

Pixel 3 XL

  • 6.3-inch, 2,960 x 1,440-pixel notched OLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • 12.2MP dual-pixel rear camera, dual-lens 8MP selfie camera
  • 4GB RAM, 64 or 128GB storage
  • Dual front-firing stereo speakers
  • 3,430mAh battery + Qi wireless charging
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • USB Type-C

The Pixel 3 XL is essentially a Pixel 3 with a bigger screen and larger battery. Unlike the regular Pixel 3 that still has a forehead, the 3 XL’s screen goes all the way to the top, just that it’s punctured by a rather big notch. Both phones have a glass back, but with a soft touch matte texture for the most part. The dual front-firing stereo speakers are also improved and are now 40% louder.

A major addition this year is the inclusion of Qi wireless charging on both Pixel 3 phones. Google is selling its own US$79 wireless charging stand called the Pixel Stand, which props up the phone when it’s docked so that you can continue to see the screen (clock, music cover art, Google Photos albums, etc.), use Google Assistant, and take actions on the phone. The Pixel Stand provides up to 10W of wireless charging power to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. (You still get 18W fast charging with the phones’ bundled wired USB charger.)

Still, hardware components only tell half the story. Software-wise, the most exciting additions unsurprisingly come from the camera department. Chief of which is Top Shot, which captures a series of frames before and after you hit the shutter button. On-device machine learning is then applied to find the best photos. It also captures alternate shots in HDR+. The camera app will display a ‘Smart Capture available’ suggestion pill when there are top shots available.

There’s also an AI-powered Super Res Zoom function, which basically takes a burst of photos to create a higher quality image when you use digital zoom (the phones have a single rear camera, remember?). And then there’s Night Sight for low-light photography. Google says Night Sight uses machine learning (see the trend?) to tune the colors and exposure, and it works so well that you’d never need to use your flash again.

As mentioned above, the Pixel 3 phones have a 8MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras setup. Google says this Group Selfie Cam lets you take “184% more in your selfies” compared to the iPhone XS’ front-facing camera. And a new Photobooth mode will use machine learning to decide the best moments to capture selfies. For example, it will try to get funny faces or when the subjects are smiling.

Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, Night Sight, and the Group Selfie Cam may be the Pixel 3’s marquee camera features, but they aren't the only new camera features. Other smaller additions include new packs for Playground (previously called AR Stickers) and the integration of Google Lens into the camera. The latter now lets you point the camera at a product to find similar styles online. Autofocus performance is also improved when shooting videos.

Moving away from camera features for a bit, the Pixel 3 phones will start to get the new Duplex feature in the U.S. next month. The phones are also capable of screening calls for you, using on-device AI. This feature will arrive on the entire Pixel family next month. Finally, a Flip to Shhh feature will automatically turn on Do Not Disturb mode when you flip the phone over.

Available in Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink, the regular Google Pixel 3 is priced at US$799 (64GB) and US$899 (128GB); while the 3 XL is going for US$899 (64GB) and US$999 (128GB). Pre-orders start today. Google is also giving customers free 6 months of YouTube Music. Original-quality photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos from Pixel 3 is free through Jan 31, 2022.