It’s fair to say that the Google Pixel 2 (and Pixel 2XL) was among the finest smartphone cameras of 2017. The low light images were particularly impressive. One year is a long time in the smartphone space, during this period we’ve seen devices with a triple cam (like the Huawei P20 Pro) and even a quad cam – Samsung just unveiled the Galaxy A9 with 4 lenses in its rear camera set up. But the Pixel 3 siblings have stuck to the solitary lens and yet stake a claim for the smartphone camera of the year. Of course, the Pixel 3 and 3XL – that we will put under the scanner, is not just about its camera. Since the debut of the Google Pixel line, these devices have been Google’s showcase for everything Android.

We’ve loved the design language for the ‘Made by Google’ Pixel phones and this year’s duo truly takes it to the next level. This is not a device that is designed to be spotted from a mile but is all about its subtle elegance. Google sticks to the two-tone approach from last year and adds one more colour –the ‘Not Pink’ (also our favourite from this year’s line-up) to the white and black variants.

It’s one of the most thoughtfully designed smartphones this year. It’s all-glass and yet it’s not slippery; it feels great in your hand. It’s also a tad lighter than the iPhone XS Max and the Note 9, it’s equally formidable rivals. But there’s one thing you can’t ignore – the Notch. The Pixel 3XL’s notch is quite deep but we’ll say this – it doesn’t look as bad as it does in pictures and videos. Also, Google hasn’t managed a strong justification for this deep notch, given that it doesn’t house a Face-ID type sensor that the iPhone X and XS use for face unlock. The Pixel 3XL sticks to a fingerprint sensor that is conveniently located at the rear of the device and it’s super quick.

That’s the thing about the Pixel 3XL, it’s about the tiny details and Google’s quest to create a seamless blend of robust hardware with a flawless UI experience. It takes the hardware spec sheet out of the equation. It doesn’t matter that this device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 4GB of RAM, what matters is everyday usage scenarios where the Pixel 3XL is a sheer joy to use. The 6.3-inch P-OLED screen (1440 x 2960 pixels / 523 PPI) is another strong point. Add the stereo speakers and you have the perfect entertainment package for videos on the go.

The camera – it’s one reason we think the Pixel 3XL deserves your attention. The 12.2MP rear cam is a star in low light and also shoots sharper videos than last year’s Pixel 2. There’s no dual cam and yet this camera can shoot 2x zoom images and impressive bokeh images. At a time when selfie cams ‘over beautify’ you, the dual selfie cam (8MP + 8MP) shoots sharper selfies that capture vivid details, especially on portrait mode. Funny AR stickers are passé, the Pixel 3XL’s Playground mode allows you to super-impose a host of characters and effects into your photos or selfies. Ironman is certainly cooler than adding a funny nose or an extra-big pair of ears to your selfies.

The Pixel 3XL also comes with free, unlimited storage of all your images on Google Photos. Google has capped the internal storage at 128GB which is way lower than the 512GB versions of the iPhone XS and the Note 9 (that also offers expandable storage). There’s a 3430 mAh battery under the hood; we managed a full day with a single charging cycle with a significant amount of multi-media usage (camera and video). The charger bundled in the box has fast charging capabilities, we were equally impressed with the headphones in the box too (the Pixel 3XL doesn’t feature a 3.5mm headphone slot though).

The Google Pixel 3XL and the Pixel 3 deliver an Android experience like no other. The latest iteration of Android – 9.0 (a.k.a. Pie) plays out really well on the Pixel 3XL. This is not your usual cosmetic update but a new vision for Android that has some great new tweaks – the navigation is a case in point. The Pixel 3XL addresses some of our gripes with its predecessors – like the huge bezels, and builds on the good stuff – like the camera and the design language. It’s why the Pixel 3XL is one of our favourite smartphones of 2018.

The Google Pixel 3XL costs Rs 83,000 (64GB) / Rs 92,000 (128GB)

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