Home >Technology >Gadgets >First impressions: Google Pixel 3 XL doesn’t jump off the page

Over the past few years, Google’s Pixel smartphones have given us something new to talk about. On one hand, Google significantly evolved smartphone cameras, while on the other hand, its phones showed that Google is not a hardware company, yet. They were riddled with hardware issues, which Google struggled to keep up with.

Hence, in my opinion, this year’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were never about proving that Google can make good smartphones – we knew that already. The Pixel 3 series is about proving that Google is dependable as a hardware company, and it seems Google knows that.

I’ve used the Pixel 3 XL for just about six hours now, and there is really nothing that jumped off the page at me. It still has a great camera, a unique design, AI smarts and recognises most songs that are playing around me.

One of the primary user concerns last year was with Google’s undersaturated P-OLED displays. That’s gone this time, and the display looks better. However, the Apple iPhone XS’ screen is noticeably more vibrant than the Pixel’s. Google seems to be at a stage where Apple used to be long ago, where it would ignore the fact that natural colours aren’t what most users intuitively like.

The Pixel 3 XL does have a nice screen, but if you are looking for eye-catching, oversaturated colours that Samsung and even Apple now deliver, this isn’t it. I tried changing display modes too, and it doesn’t help.

I have the ‘Clearly White’ variant, and I’m compelled to say, this one looks somewhat plain. That said, the design of Pixel phones has always been highly subjective – you either really like them, or you absolutely do not. Either way, you will get used to them eventually, which is what matters.

As with last year’s device, I’m still not a fan of how wide and large this phone is. The 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL is about as big as the Pixel 2 XL (which is expected, given the notch), but it’s still unwieldy and large.

You see, I could easily go on explaining how great this camera is, and how it easily outperforms the newest iPhones, Galaxys and Huaweis. But, you already knew that—we all did. None of those phones beat the Pixel 2, how would they beat the Pixel 3 XL?

Google even added some more smarts to the camera this time, including things like “Night Sight", which is supposed to enhance the phone’s low light imaging prowess. I’ve unfortunately been busy covering the Pixel event to really take this out for a low-light spin right now, so we’ll talk about that in the review.

But, here’s the thing—the Google Pixel 3 XL doesn’t exactly strike you significantly.

There’s nothing about this phone that makes me go “ooh, nice", and that’s absolutely fine as long as Google can ensure good after-sales support and no hardware kinks. As long as all microphones perform correctly, no speakers stop working, no displays retain images and absolutely nothing breaks,

Google has the best Android phone on the market, which it never actually needed to improve. It happens to be significantly cheaper than the iPhone XS Max, too.

The Pixel 3 XL (64GB) is priced at 83,000; the 128 GB variant comes in at 92,000. Both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL will launch in India on 1 November.

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