By now, you’re probably well aware that the Pixel 3 is available for purchase from Google, Verizon and Best Buy here in the US and dozens of other retailers across the globe. We were not given a review unit by Google, so we had to go out and buy ours on launch day. We actually had a few issues getting the model we wanted. The Verizon store we went to only had the Google Pixel XL in black and the Best Buy we purchased our Pixel 3 from only has the Not Pink color option. They were kind enough to have a Black Pixel 3 sent over from another Best Buy (great job Best Buy customer service).
Pixel 3 unboxing
Unboxing the Pixel 3 is similar to unboxing most other smartphones these days. That being said, Google does try to be a little different. To start, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both feature new seal stickers on the box which have pull-tabs which allow you to break the seal without having to pick at an edge to get a grip on it or cut the seal with a knife.
Once you lift the lid, the Pixel 3 is featured right on top. Below the phone is the usually warranty card and SIM unlock tool, but Google has also included USB-C headphones which work with Google Assistant, a 3.5mm to USB-C dingle for those who still want to use their older headphones, a USB-C power cable and a USB-C to USB A OTG adapter so that you can easily transfer your data from another Android or iOS device.
Pixel 3 first impressions
There’s a lot to love about the Pixel 3. For one, it’s actually just the right size so that it can be used with one hand. This is the main reason I opted for the smaller Pixel 3 over the Pixel 3 XL. Then there’s the fact that the phone does feature an obnoxiously tall notch on the display. The glass and metal build is pretty impressive. While the frosted glass on the back of the phone makes the Pixel 3 look like last year’s Pixel 2, it’s more comfortable to hold and doesn’t get as warm when using the device for gaming. Unfortunately, many have reported that the frosted glass does scratch pretty easily. I have not experienced that yet, but I will be slapping a case on it to ensure it stays in pristine condition as long as possible.
The internal specs of the Pixel 3 really aren’t that impressive. It’s powered by A Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC with only 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The good news is that Google has fully optimized Android 9 so that the user experience is flawless. Those who have not used Android 9 yet will need to get used to the gesture controls since Google has done away with Android’s 3-button on-screen navigation keys. The gestures do take a day or two to get used to, but I honestly think it’s a better control paradigm for Android.
So far, battery life on the Pixel 3 seems to be on point. The Pixel 3 seems to last a little longer than my Pixel 2 did, but it’ll take a bit more testing to see if that truly holds up after a week or two. That brings us to one of my favorite Pixel 3 features – wireless charging. As you might expect, the Pixel 3’s wireless charging capabilities are enabled by the glass panel on the back of the phone. If you happen to pick of the official Pixel 3 wireless charger, the Pixel 3 turns into a mini Google Home Hub, featuring albums from your Google Photos Account, showing you information from Google Assistant and acting as a central hub to your smartphone home gadgets.
We haven’t had much time to play around with the camera yet. The pictures and videos we’ve captured look just as good if not better than what we get with the Pixel 2. We’ll be doing a lot of photo comparisons with the Pixel 3 over the coming weeks, so be sure to check back in for that.
Overall, the Pixel 3 appears to be an adequate successor to last year’s Pixel 2. The hardware does feel a bit boring, but it doesn’t detract from the phone’s overall experience. Google appears to be using a basic design so that Android and not the Pixel 3’s hardware is the true selling point of its flagship smartphone.