First look: Is Google’s Pixel 3 XL worth its €999 price tag?
An excellent camera, plus Android Pie: will it persuade people to part with their cash?
The Google Pixel 3 XL. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
If you are a fan of bigger phones, you are in luck: the Google Pixel 3 XL will certainly fit the bill. Think of the current iPhone Xs Max and you have a good idea of how the Pixel 3 XL looks.
The updated version has a glass back and is available in three colours: black, white and a sort of blush pink. There’s a two tone effect on the back where shiny glass meets a more matt effect. On the white version, it’s harder to see fingerprints, although it did start to pick up some dust after a few hours of use.
Other than that, the phone is fairly standard for the smartphones of today. The sim tray has been moved to the bottom of the phone, alongside the USB C charger. The one thing that’s missing? The headphone jack. The Pixel 3 XL is one of the the handsets that has ditched the 3.5mm jack in favour of forcing us all towards using bluetooth headphones or USB connections.
At 6.3 inches, the Pixel 3 XL’s QHD+ OLED screen is a fraction smaller than the iPhone Xs Max. It’s a close run thing though, and it’s unlikely you’ll miss that tiny bit of screen. It’s a similar size, although it weighs less than the iPhone. What you will notice is the bezel on the bottom of the screen. Where the iPhone Xs Max screen goes almost to the edge of the phone case, the Pixel 3 XL has a noticeable bezel on the bottom. It means less display in essentially a similarly sized package. The trade off? The dual speakers, one of which is located in that bottom bezel.
There seems to be a similar style of thinking about the notch, which now seems to be a trend of sorts. Apple, Huawei and Google are all unashamedly sporting the notch and the Google Pixel 3 XL joins them. In this case, the Pixel XL is making room for its dual front facing camera, but it seems a bit deeper than the one on the iPhone Xs Max, although it doesn’t stretch quite as far across the screen.
Speaking of the camera, the one on the Pixel 3 XL is excellent. The rear camera has a 12 megapixel resolution, and aperture of f1.8, and optical and electronic image stabilisation. The two front facing cameras are 8 megapixels in resolution, with the wide angle lens coming with f2.2 aperture, and a telephoto lens with f1.8 aperture. You can crank the video up to 4K at 30 frames per second, but the 1080p footage is great quality and the video stabilisation helps.
There are some extra features.Hold the button down and fire off a string of shots and smart burst will pick the best to present to you.
The Pixel 3 XL has a Snapdragon 845 chip inside, with 4GB of RAM and a choice between 64GB and 128GB of storage. Choose wisely: although you’ll have access to cloud storage, there’s no ability expand the physical capacity of the phone, and if you take a lot of 4K video or photos and want to keep them on your phone, you will eat into it quickly enough.
The battery is bigger than the Pixel 3’s 2915mAh - the XL has 3430 mAh - and the iPhone Xs Max, which has 3174 mAh. It is still less than the NSamsung Galaxy Note 9, which has a 4,000 mAh battery. It’s not just about raw numbers though, and the Pixel 3 XL seemed to do ok on power since it made its way into my hands. How it stands up against its rivals will become apparent over the next week or two.
The Pixel 3 XL has a comes with Android Pie, which is the latest, greatest version of the software. There’s a fingerprint reader on the back, right where your hand naturally falls so it’s not a stretch to reach it. It also has squeeze gestures - you can simply squeeze the phone to activate the assistant or silence alarms on your phone. Perfect for early mornings, then.
The Google Pixel 3 XL can be preordered from Google here.
This article was edited on October 12th to correct the battery life.