The Google Pixel 3 XL is an all-glass device that sparkles from a distance. But unlike most other top-end phones it’s a precious thing that does not need your protection.
If you have designs on a Google Pixel 3 XL, don’t spend too much time with it, unless, of course, you have decided to own one. It is downright gorgeous, uncannily smart and highly seductive, and once you have had a taste of it, you are never going to look at smartphones the same way.
I got “Clearly White” — other colour variants are “Just Black” and “Not So Pink” — and don’t want to ever let it out of my sight. It’s an all-glass (front and back) device that sparkles from a distance. But unlike most other top-end phones it’s a precious thing that does not need your protection. The front Gorilla Glass 5 panel doesn’t need a screen guard. After days of rough encounters with all sorts of sharp objects in my pocket, it only had fingerprint smudges, and only on the screen. I am so relieved that Google did not blindly copy the iPhone’s glass back. It’s a glass panel, sure (the company says so), that doesn’t feel breakable. It feels like ceramic coating with a matte finish. The design is like enormous wealth contained within a conspicuously tidy sense of style. Very classy.
Except the notch! Oh, the droopy notch! But it has a purpose and it grows on you.
The Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch OLED screen (1440×2960 pixels) with a tall (19:9) aspect ratio that is as good as, if not better than the iPhone XS Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note9. The OnePlus 6 does not stand a chance.
The Pixel’s screen is sharp, balanced and vivid, even in the sun. At 184 grams it’s a bit lighter than the Note9 and XS Max.
The 3 XL is not just beautiful on the outside, but inside too, and its AI soul reflects in how it sees the world. It does not need four cameras on the back to take a great picture. And its single 12.2 megapixel primary camera is whacky smart — in sunlight, low-light or no light. The front has dual 8 MP camera, a thoughtful addition, because a person who buys the Pixel 3 XL (I’ll get to its price later) has to be at least a little more self-indulgent than the rest of us. The extra camera is for taking wide-angle selfies. Pixel does not have the best camera hardware — and the detailing does give it away — but its software works like magic.
A quick roundup of the pros: The Snapdragon 845 with 630 GPU Adreno is among the best processors going, so the phone is super-fast. Since it’s a Google phone, the Android 9 (Pie), the latest OS, has no over-the-top customisations. The front stereo speakers are powerful, with a deep base and clear sound.
But here’s why I wouldn’t jump to buy a 3 XL. It lacks endurance. The 3430mAh battery lasts about 12 hours on mixed-use of calling, a few minutes of video and a couple of hours of audio — not enough. While playing graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8: Airborne or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and running 10 more apps in the background, the phone’s top half heats up quickly. Finally, the Google Pixel 3 XL will cost over Rs 80,000 with 64 GB and over Rs 90,000 for 128 GB storage.
This phone is a subtle luxury that moneyed iPhone lovers and Samsung loyalists are unlikely to appreciate, and a vast improvement from the previous two generations.
But Google has to up its hardware game to win the battle for the best pricey smartphone that sells itself. – Business Standard