Google Pixel 3 XL Review

Let me preface my entire review with this; myself and Lemacks Media are Google Cloud Partners, I am a fan and user of Google/Alphabet products across the spectrum, I am not being paid for this review, and I plan to use the Google Pixel 3 XL as my daily phone until the Pixel 4 (or otherwise) comes out in 2019.

Google Pixel 3 XL is familiar

So, yea, the Pixel 3 XL is a very familiar device coming from the Pixel 2 XL. It's familiar down to the point that if you disable the notch in Developer Settings it actually is nearly indistinguishable from the Pixel 2 XL. Coming from running nearly all of my devices on beta channels of Android nearly year round I tend to forget what features the previous generation phone didn't truly have publicly available until the OS official launch, so the software, aside from items like Night Sight and other incremental items I am typically already using.

The Pixel 3 XL feels the same, but slightly refined on the back plate. It feels slightly, but not noticeably heavier, and just generally feels like the same phone in the hand. For me having large hands, it's comfortable and easy to use even with the increase in overall display size.

Google Pixel 3 XL Hardware

I really enjoyed the Pixel 2 XL's design, and the Pixel 3 XL did nothing but improve on it. I know people are up in arms about the notch, but honestly it doesn't bother me. It reminds me a lot of the LG V10 with how it utilized a second display for a quick launcher and notifications next to the front cameras. Function over aesthetic is never lost on me.

Even the boxes and the unboxing experience are identical!

[caption id="attachment_884" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Pixel 2 XL & Pixel 3 XL Lemacks Media Pixel 2 XL & Pixel 3 XL Lemacks Media[/caption]

The camera's are nothing short of excellent, I won't dive too deeply into the additional software features, because they aren't officially baked in yet, however, here are a few examples from the standard camera, no settings changes right out of the box.

[gallery type="slideshow" link="file" ids="880,881"]


The inclusion of USB Type-C headphones this iteration was definitely welcome! They are serviceable, nothing super fancy or special, I likely would only use them when traveling so not to need to keep my PowerBeats Wireless set charged all the time. Otherwise, I prefer the wireless headphones from pretty much everything as it means I can sit my phone down in places that make sense for example at the gym. I do, however, prefer the feel of the Pixel USB-C Earbuds, they fit nicely, and definitely have me considering getting the Pixel Buds now as a replacement for the PowerBeats.

As with the Pixel 2/2 XL and Pixel 1/1XL Google included a USB-A to USB-C dongle for transfer from 1 device to another. I also find this useful to carry around for various applications like: charging other people's phones, viewing data on USB drives, and even using in conjunction with my USB to Ethernet dongle to make network changes over LAN rather than playing the WiFi game.

Google Pixel 3 XL Features & Software

Android 9.0 "Pie" is a great follow-up to Android 8.0 "Oreo". The emphasis on more Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence features augment what is already good hardware for a flagship device. As with all of the Google Pixel branded devices, the frequent monthly updates and patches will serve to keep the phone feeling new and quick for at least 1-2 years. My personal experience with the Pixel 2 XL was nothing short of excellent, and if it weren't for the fact I like shiny new things, I likely would have stayed on the Pixel 2 XL at least another device generation for these reasons.

Google Assistant Call Screening is probably the biggest and best software feature on the device in my opinion. I have already used it a number of times, and the appreciation I have for it isn't really measureable!

I have experimented with the Night Sight feature in an unofficial build of the Google Camera App, here are the resulting photos:

[gallery link="file" type="slideshow" ids="886,887,888,889"]

Google Pixel 3 XL Final Thoughts

Pixel 3 XL is a great incremental improvement over the 2 XL. Over the next few months I will loop back here to update and the remaining software features are officially baked in and supported. I would recommend the Pixel 3 XL purely based on the camera and Google Assistant.

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