With so many new electronics getting moved into the retail marketplace at a dizzying pace, it is hard to make a big impression, even with the latest and greatest thingamajig.
But then the Google Pixel 3 XL came along. And I am hooked. Like, change my number to Google, move on and not care if I ever look back, hooked. I thought it was an impossibility I could ever get away from the Samsung Note, but I can’t deny my affections for this Pixel 3 phone.
Mia at Google was nice enough to connect with me at Indian Country Today and allowed me to research, try and experience the incredible user-friendly Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL.
Worth noting: The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL also have an amazing potential to connect with the vast Google Fi network, a phone service plan offered by Google. I am going to give a full in-depth review and description of the network and service plan next week. (Hint: it’s fantastic and affordable.)
Did I say I LOVE this phone? Yes, I guess I did, but I mean 'wow.' I have long been an Android fan, and even tried the iPhone for a day one time, but I admittedly didn’t give the iPhone much of a chance as I am invested into the knowledge of Android phones.
Don’t worry iOS users - I promise to give it a good run soon and will report it here in my weekly Native Nerd column.
In case you are wondering about the phone size differences. Yeah, the Pixel 3 XL is a bit bigger. They are both great depending on what you like, small and compact, or larger for easy readability.
The camera - HOLY SMOKES!
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL camera is out of this world. As a professional photographer, I can’t get over what this phone can do. It is leaps and bounds better than what I could get years ago with bags full of professional camera equipment.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL also have a lot of fun options in the camera such as shake for a selfie, Portrait, Panorama, Night Sight (for amazing photos in low light conditions) Photosphere for taking a photo that pans from right to left for an overall view.
Slow motion is a lot of fun, but one of my favorite features is called Playground. In Playground you can insert stickers, have a virtual friend with you in the photo like Iron Man, or the Hulk or other funny animated objects.
You can also adjust the frame of your camera for a several friends’ photograph, this is Group Selfie mode, where with a touch of a finger, everyone fits into the shot.
One beautiful aspect of the camera is the soft background in Portrait mode which creates a magazine-style photo. The camera makes the adjustments after the photo is taken but it is magical to me.
The camera also takes several instances of the same image with Top Shot, so if you blinked? There is perhaps another great image to choose from. I could go on and on.
The camera is quite simply, spectacular. Like, mind-blowing spectacular. Like, 'I hate every other phone that exists spectacular.'
Artificial Intelligence or AI
Amazingly, you can even take advantage of Artificial Intelligence or AI. With ‘Lens’ you can tap a photo or image and you can translate text, find or search an image or scan a barcode. Completely wild. I tried it with a Gumby and Pokey I had on my desk. (My photo is at the very top of this screen capture I took from the phone. It found other images in literally 2 seconds.)
If you squeeze the phone, you can call on your Google Assistant to transcribe a text message and send it, make an appointment or calendar entry by asking it to, or ask it to call your best friend.
AI also recognizes phone calls for voicemails and makes use of ways to block spam calls and more.
The basic call functions are great, and at par with most any phone. Speakerphone, add a call, video call, looks great and didn’t have any issues making calls. Occasionally, my cheek bumped the phone and it muted the call, but I’m sure I could soften the sensitivity in the settings somewhere. A good phone, no dropped calls or anything.
Google’s G Board (the Pixel 3 keyboard app) is fantastic and messaging is tons of fun.
You can breeze through texts with auto-replies that are a bit scary for being so intuitive and you can auto add stickers, gif’s your location, photos, Google pay, location and more. It’s a lot of fun.
Storage vs. an SD card
The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL come with free unlimited photo and video backing up at original resolution when connected to your Gmail account. Why even have an SD card anymore? I used to worry about storage, I haven’t even thought of it until writing about it now.
Speedy charging, including wireless and super long battery life.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL have an 18-watt charger and will charge the completely drained battery in about an hour. It stays on all day, and I haven’t had to worry about losing any battery all day. This is one place the Pixel 3 and 3 XL kill the Samsung, which to me, seems almost permanently attached to it’s charging cord. I never seem to have enough battery life with Samsung.
For a few more technical specs here are a few words on the Google Blog:
Pixel 3 comes with an 18-watt fast charger in the box, which can give you seven hours of use in 15 minutes of charging. With our AI-powered Adaptive Battery technique, Pixel 3 prioritizes battery power for your most important apps to make your phone last all day.
If you set an alarm, your screen will gently brighten over 15 minutes before your alarm goes off, mimicking the sunrise and helping you wake up naturally. Pixel 3 also comes with dual front-firing speakers tuned by a GRAMMY®-winning music producer to turn your phone into a powerful speaker.
Pixel 3 is IP68 water- and dust-resistant and has a security chip custom-designed by Google called Titan M, making it the most secure phone we've built yet. Titan M enhances mobile security by protecting your unlock credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system code itself. Powered by Android 9 Pie, Pixel 3 comes with the latest Android operating system.
Two small things I didn’t like
I don’t like the launcher (the software that manages your phone, icons, apps etc.)
This is an easy adjustment by using an app in the Google Play store. I just installed Nova Launcher and issue fixed. But like any phone, we all have our customization preferences, and this is nothing more than a shoulder shrug when pulling it out of the box. The nice thing about switching to the Pixel 3 is the attached cord in the box, which seamlessly transfers everything from your current phone in about 15-20 minutes.
There is no headphone jack
Again, not a huge deal breaker, but I like to have the option to use any headphones without thinking about it. Instead of having a charging port and a headphone jack, the pixel combines the two. Look I get it, the world is full of Bluetooth-enabled headphones and such, but I have a pair of nice Bose earbuds I received as a gift, that are my sincere favorites. They have the standard headphone jack.
Ok, the Pixel 3 has an adapter that can be used with a standard headphone jack, so I can listen to music. Let’s just say, on the not too rare moment I have about 10% battery on my phone and want to listen to music while resting on the couch or something? Now is when it won’t work, and I will have to choose to “fish or cut bait” aka, charge or listen to music. If I had both ports, I’d be all set.
A couple of other things I love
The fingerprint security feature is super accurate and blazing fast. Again, leaps and bounds above the Samsung. I barely touch it and the Pixel opens right up.
One-click power button screen capture … love it.
Super fast response time to screen touches.
Google Pixel 3 just seems to be updated and fast as well as intuitive in every place I use the phone. Other phones seem to have these fun bells and whistles, then I end up never using the features. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are just intuitive and an all-around incredibly friendly phone.
I give it a 9.9 out of 10. With a 10 if the phone would have had a headphone jack.
For more information visit the Google Pixel store.
You can also read a lot of Google 3 Pixel-related news by visiting the #TeamPixel series of articles on the Team Pixel blog by Google.
Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling, associate editor for Indian Country Today at @VinceSchilling - Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd