The updated Pixel 3 duo looks refreshing and different without changing too much from last year’s phones. There is a fair chance of you asking yourself whether you should upgrade from the Pixel 2 or a Pixel 2 XL to the newer models.
To cut the answer short, yes you should upgrade to the Pixel 3 or the 3 XL because of their improved displays, smaller bezels, a louder dual speaker setup. I’ve been using Pixel 3 XL for over a week now and here’s why I think you should consider moving to the Pixel 3 from the Pixel 2.
Why Should You Upgrade to the Pixel 3 XL?
1. Better Display
The Pixel 3 XL get a major change in terms of the display and its much more than just the new ‘bathtub’ notch. Compared to the Pixel 2 XL, the display on the Pixel 3 XL is marginally bigger and there are minimal bezels on the top. But more importantly, the new display is significantly brighter and more color-accurate than that on the Pixel 2 XL.
Pixel 3 XL’s QHD+ display has been rated as best smartphone display so far by DisplayMate which awarded it an overall score of A+. With this, the Pixel 3 XL is on par with the of iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9 and S9 Plus.
Pixel 3 XL’s display is based on the same flexible/plastic OLED technology as the last year but the viewing angles are much better, while the newer Pixel doesn’t have that excessive blue shifting when seeing the display off-center. This also complements the greatest smartphone camera which also preserves the natural colors of objects and you can enjoy them without waiting until you transfer the images to a computer or view them on a bigger and better screen.
2. Louder Stereo Speakers
The Pixel 3 XL now has 40% louder speakers as per Google, but the more noticeable change is in terms of quality. The stereo setup now feels clearer and has less distortion. Listening to music and watching sitcoms or movies is an enjoyable experience and in most cases, I’ve not found myself reaching out for earphones.
These speakers are only slightly short of the iPhone XS and XS Max but these front-firing speakers on the Pixel, in my opinion, create a more gripping sound experience compared to the bottom-firing layout on the iPhones. This also prevents the speaker from being muffled when you’re busy playing games. The only demerit, however, is that the speaker at the bottom has forced Google to leave an ugly chin which leads to that asymmetric look.
3. Improved Image Processing
The Pixel 3 XL has the same rear camera specifications as the previous generation smartphone with a new sensor. While the shutter speed is nearly the same on both the smartphones, Pixel 3 XL has much better details and comes with exclusive features such as Photobooth and Top Shot.
Google did not call out any changes in the Pixel Visual Core for the Pixel 3, so we believe that the camera improvements are because of the better software processing and computational photography algorithms being used for the Pixel 3. You can see the difference between the phones in these pictures:
As you can see the Pixel 3 exposes the photo a little better than the 2 XL. Google has promised that these features will come to older Pixel devices and the rollout will begin later this month. Further, the Playground mode replaces AR Stickers on the Pixel 2 and certain AR characters now follow you across the frame as you move which is pretty interesting.
4. Wide-Angle Selfies
Another major upgrade is the secondary front camera which is capable of taking wide-angle selfies with a span of 97-degrees. This allows you to easily fill the frame easily with seven to eight people without needing a selfie stick. There is, however, a noticeable fisheye effect.
At the same time, the main selfie camera also gets autofocus capabilities and that allows for visibly better selfies with finer details compared to the Pixel 2 XL. Here’s an example:
5. Wireless Charging
Part of the reason for the Pixel 3 XL’s new glass back is its support for wireless charging. Along with Qi support for Pixel 3, Google also introduced the Pixel Stand which wirelessly fast-charges the Pixel 3 or other Qi-compliant smartphones at 10W.
More interestingly, the Pixel Stand also converts the Pixel 3 XL into a smart display and easy-to-use controls like in Android Auto mode come up. You can also interact with the docked Pixel 3 XL using voice through Google Assistant. There is also a host of other features exclusive to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL such as automatic screen dimming and showing your best Google Photos.
6. Faster Processor
It’s almost a pity that Google launches its smartphones almost half a year after Qualcomm launches its flagship processor. So, it’s neither surprising not exciting to see the Snapdragon 845 at the heart of Pixel 3 XL – unless you own a Pixel 2 XL, which uses the older Snapdragon 835.
The SD 845 brings a higher clock speed, improved graphics and image processing, Gigabit LTE, and Quick Charge 4+ compared to Quick Charge 4. Notably, Pixel 3 XL uses an underclocked CPU but its clock speed is still higher compared to last year’s. Lastly, Snapdragon 845 also supports 4K video recording at 60fps, and while the Pixel 3 XL does not support that, we hope Google adds support later via a software update.
Why You Should Not Upgrade to the Pixel 3 XL
Surely, the above-listed reasons are more than enough to shake you off the fence and into the Pixel 3’s corner. But this does not mean that the Pixel 2 XL is a bad phone. It fared decently in our camera comparison again the iPhone XS and you get the ability to choose between standard buttons and the new Android Pie navigation gestures.
Moreover, some of the Google Camera features should reach older devices by the end of this month. Lastly, we have strong reasons to believe that Google will be more cautious about the leaks next year and the Pixel 4 XL will be way much more exciting. So it all depends on your financial ability to buy the new Pixel 3 XL right away or if you bought a buyback guarantee with the 2 XL.
Don’t worry, if you’re in India, you have till November 1 to decide whether the upgrade really makes sense to you and I think our full review should help you decide better.
Pre-order Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL on Flipkart (starts at Rs 71,000)