The most exciting Android phone that we had been waiting for this year, is finally a reality. Not that we had to wait too much for it, considering how it had been leaked in the weeks leading up to the Google event. However, the very experience of holding the phone in one’s hand is truly when the evolution becomes clear.
In terms of the design, the Google Pixel 3 XL looks a lot to the Pixel 2 XL from last year, at first glance. However, the Pixel 3 XL is certainly much better to hold than the Pixel 2 XL and feels considerably more premium. The dimensions are very similar, though that is not to say that the accessories such as cases for the Pixel 2 XL will necessarily work with the Pixel 3 XL—the new phone has 158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm dimensions while the older Pixel 2 XL phone measures 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm. That said, the back is now made of Gorilla Glass, instead of plastic, in last year’s Pixel 2 phones. That adds 9 grams of weight, and the Pixel 3 XL tips the scales at 184 grams. That gives it a shinier look, as well as feels better to hold. However, the continuity of design is actually a good thing, as it builds a familiarity in the consumers’ mind. Google have added a third colour this year, called Not Pink, and it will complement the white and black colour options.
The glass back also allows Google to add the wireless charging feature in the Pixel 3 XL. You can use any Qi enabled wireless charger just in case you aren’t in the mood to spend another Rs6,900 on a Pixel Stand wireless charger that Google will be selling with the Pixel 3 XL. Incidentally, Google is also bundling an 18-watt fast charge adapter with the Pixel 3 XL as a default accessory with the box—Apple perhaps missed a trick by not offering a fast charging adapter with the iPhone XS Max.
We noticed that there is no option to enable Voice over LTE (VoLTE) feature on the Pixel 3 XL, while using Vodafone or Airtel SIM cards. The predecessor, the Pixel 2 XL also did not have support for VoLTE. We aren’t exactly sure if this is because cellular companies in India don’t support VoLTE for the device, or Google needs to roll out a software update to enable this.
The Pixel 3 XL also supports the virtual SIM technology, known as the eSIM. This comes soon after the announcement that the Apple iPhone XS Max and the support for eSIM with Airtel and Jio networks in India. No word on eSIM support by Indian operators for the Pixel 3 XL as yet.
There is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 powering the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL, helped along by 4GB of RAM. You might be thinking that this seems a tad too less for a flagship Android phone, considering how phones now have 6GB or 8GB RAM as standard. And you might be correct for the most part. But because this is Google controlling the hardware, the software and everything in-between, the phone has performed remarkably smoothly in the limited time we have had with it thus far.
A lot of the credit must go to the Android 9 Pie operating system as well, which with significant under-the-hood developments—they have a positive impact on battery life by shutting down unnecessary apps and services, and they certainly help with the performance too. We had noticed a performance boost on other Android phones that have since been updated to run Android 9 Pie, such as the OnePlus 6, and therefore it is no surprise that the Pixel 3 XL runs as well as it does.
Last year, the Pixel 2 XL in particular was in the line of fire for what was a fairly subdued display. Most users found it not to their liking. Plus, it had issues with colour shifting when viewed at an angle and the colour saturation was a tad too subdued. This time around, the Pixel 3 XL completely rewrites history with what is a very rich and vivid display. It does well in terms of the sharpness as well as viewing angles, and is exactly the sort of corrective response we expected from Google this time around. Now there is a notch too, which could draw very differing opinions. But well, its here to stay, whether you like it or not.
We will need to spend more time with the device to get a better idea of the overall performance, camera quality and battery life, as well as any potential quirks or trend setting features. Do stay tuned for our detailed review.
The Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL will be arriving in India on November 1, and pre-orders start on October 11 on Flipkart, Airtel’s online store, and at offline partners including Reliance Digital and Croma stores. The Pixel 3 XL (64GB) is priced at Rs83,000 while the 128GB variant costs Rs92,000.