Test Google Pixel 3 Xl: a Dpass Smartphone but Excellent in Pictures

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The release of Google’s Pixel 3 has been particularly commented on this side of the Atlantic, and for good reason: it is officially the first smartphone of the firm to make its mark on the Old Continent. While Google has already garnered much praise with its previous phone attempts, this third iteration represents a certain accomplishment for the manufacturer.

However, the coating only hinted at a hardware upgrade with cold feet for this Pixel 3.

Indeed, if it is displayed as a smartphone all that is more classic, the latest Google’s newborn carries with him countless new software and especially photographic. Enough, in 2019, to face the new tenors that are the Xiaomi Mi 9, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei P30 Pro?

The Google Pixel 3 XL is available since November 2018 for 959€. It is available in white, black and powder pink.

Google Pixel 3 XL: the data sheet

As a good smartphone for the end of 2018, the technical specifications of this Pixel 3 XL inevitably lags behind the most recent phones of 2019.

The Google Pixel 3 XL is:

  • Display: 6.3-inch (18.5:9), P-OLED, 2960 x 1440 pixel (523 ppi) resolution covering approximately 82.8% of the front panel
  • SoC : Snapdragon 845 (10 nm)
  • RAM : 4 GB
  • Internal storage : 64 or 128 GB (not expandable via micro SD)
  • Battery : 3 420 mAh
  • Sealing : IP 68
  • 3.5 mm jack plug : No
  • Rear view cameras : 12.2 MP (f/1.8) equivalent 28 mm, 1/2.55, 1.4 µm
  • Front camera : 8 MP (f/1.8) equivalent 28 mm + 8 MP (f/2.2) equivalent 19 mm
  • Fingerprint sensor : Yes, on the back
  • Reverse charging : No
  • Dual SIM : Yes
  • OS : Android 9.0 Pie
  • Colour : black, white and pink
  • Price : 859€ for Pixel 3 and 959€ for Pixel 3 XL

The case of the latest smartphone from Google is simple and effective: an 18 W power adapter with its USB-C cable, a USB-C to 3.5 mm jack adapter and a pair of USB-C Pixel earphones.

Note that the Pixel 3 XL is not compatible with fast charging above 18 W. On the other hand, it supports a wireless load of up to 10W.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel 3 XL with its grey protective shell (not included). Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

An anachronistic but pleasing design

Google’s proposal already seemed anachronistic at the end of 2018, and is even more so at the beginning of 2019. While the vast majority of manufacturers want to get rid of a notch that many consider intrusive, Google integrates into its Pixel 3 XL a large one-centimeter rectangle within which the two front cameras are housed. Note that Pixel 3 also seems to be out of another age, in that it maintains thick borders – just like Pixel 2 released a year earlier.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel 3 XL is very wide. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

In any case, the Pixel 3 XL is – as its name suggests – the oversized version of the Pixel 3. Packed with a beautiful 6.3-inch screen, the Pixel 3 XL has very generous but rather poorly distributed measurements. At 76.7 mm wide and 158 mm high, Google’s flagship is difficult to handle with one hand. This was due, in particular, to an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 while the majority of the competition switched to 19.5:9 – a higher than wide format.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The bimaterial coating on the back is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the touch. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

Moreover, the Pixel 3 XL’s aesthetic proposal differs little from that of its predecessor. At the back, there is a bimaterial glass covering that makes the entire lower part particularly soft to the touch, while greatly limiting sensitivity to fingerprints. Ideally placed, a fingerprint sensor ensures the biometric unlocking of the camera, and the single photo module sits in the upper left corner of Pixel 3 XL.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The edges of the smartphone are not particularly well finished. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

The smartphone’s aluminum borders do little justice to the design efforts of the rest of the device, and suffer from an unfortunate plastic effect. However, the edges are pressure-sensitive; pressing the smartphone into your palm allows you to launch Google Assistant in less than a second.

On the right side panel, the power button and the volume control are visible. We would have preferred the first one to be located under the second one, thus avoiding having to stretch its shoot upwards to reach it. Let’s not forget that the Pixel 3 XL is particularly massive.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

The lower slice contains the SIM card slot and USB-C port. The loudspeaker is located on the chin of the camera, and works in concert with the speaker located between the two photo modules on the top of the camera to provide a convincing stereo sound experience.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The speakers of the Pixel 3 XL are very good. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

A pleasant but dimly lit display

With a 6.3-inch P-OLED panel, it goes without saying that the visual experience offered by the Pixel 3 XL is most enjoyable. Please note that it is not possible to select a lower definition than the QHD+ displayed natively. A questionable choice, especially for the phone’s autonomy – one of its weak points – and one of the symptoms of the lack of customization of Android 9.0 in its stock version. We’ll come back to that.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The huge notch of the Pixel 3 XL. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

In terms of resolution and colorimetry, Google has hit the nail on the head by giving its Pixel 3 XL a 523 ppi screen and naturally accurate colors (the sRGB spectrum is covered at 100%). Luckily, because you won’t have any way to adapt them yourself with a colour wheel anyway. Another shot of Android Stock.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel 3 XL screen displays QHD+ but lacks a little brightness. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

We’re also still hungry about the brightness of the screen. It will never rise above 400 cd/m2, which makes it particularly difficult to use in direct sunlight. Conversely, the minimum brightness is low enough for pleasant use with all lights off.

Not a lightning bolt of war, but a fluid, high-performance smartphone

We wrote it above: the Pixel 3 XL is an anachronistic smartphone (even though we are well aware that we are a bit behind on this test). Snapdragon 845, 4 GB RAM… Of the specs that the OnePlus 6 and 6T can boast, yet sold for half the price.

So it’s not surprising: the Pixel 3 XL simply seems dated in terms of performance in 2019. At least in terms of numbers, because the navigation and game experience remains fluid and sufficient for everyone. On AnTutu, the Pixel 3 XL scores 285,811 points, which puts it on par with a Samsung Galaxy S9+. Geekbench doesn’t say anything else with

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Results on AnTuTu and Geekbench

Androbench informs us about the speeds of its storage chip: 656 Mb/s in sequential reading and 229.61 Mb/s in writing; very good on this point.

In other words: daily use of Pixel 3 XL is a treat. Everything is perfectly reactive, multitasking is done without flinching even if only 4 GB of RAM is present in the device. We enjoy our favorite games in their highest quality level, and heating is practically non-existent on top of that. A nice balance on this point.

Unfortunately, Pixel 3’s sailing experience is marred by what should be its strength: Android Stock. After several years of daily use of a smartphone with a manufacturer’s overlayer such as EMUI (Huawei) or Oxygen (OnePlus), it feels like we’re back to the middle age of interfaces. We said it: impossible to modify the definition to hope to save battery life, impossible to adjust the colorimetry, but also impossible to hide the notch virtually or simply to remap the navigation buttons. A real ergonomic crime!

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel Launcher is not an example of ergonomics, even with gestured navigation. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

Google has indeed chosen to equip its smartphone with the Pixel Launcher, which suffers from a strange philosophy. The gestural navigation is of course part of the game, but incomplete and unfinished. It is not possible to perform a backspace via a swipe for example. You will be asked to press the return button on the bottom left, which requires some thumb gymnastics on the Pixel 3 XL.

A little bit of autonomy

The size of the on-board battery in the Pixel 3 XL is a good indication of what to expect in terms of range. The 3,430 mAh battery has a hard time enduring for more than a day and a half. It must be said that the permanence of the QHD+ display does nothing to alleviate power consumption.

So a typical day with navigation, Bluetooth music and a few videos/video games while on the road will quickly nibble your battery. On average, we have seen a display time of about 5 hours before the Pixel 3 XL turns off. A reasonable average, but you’d expect more from a smartphone of this caliber.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel 3 XL will last about a day and a half before shutting down.

On the recharging side, Google also looks pale in comparison to the Huawei or Xiaomi who are redoubling their efforts to develop their fast recharging technologies. Limited to 18 W, the 0 to 100% load will take you almost 2 hours to complete. We’re going up to almost 3:00 on a wireless charge.

Perfect in photography

On reading this test, it might appear that the Pixel 3 is not an attractive smartphone. Don’t worry, it’s not. Better yet, this one is sure to delight any smartphone photography enthusiast.

Yet the Pixel 3 XL has only one photo sensor, where all the competition multiplies them. So how does Google manage to hold its own against its competitors in this area? I’ll give it to you in a thousand words: digital processing and artificial intelligence.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

Taking Pixel 3 in hand means being able to convince yourself that the multiplication of photo modules on the back of competing smartphones is anecdotal. With a single 12-megapixel sensor, Google is able to produce flawless results in a wide variety of situations.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

By day, the results are relentless. The dynamics of the scenes are perfectly transcribed, and the processing is as natural as it is relevant. Contrast is impeccably managed, as are clarity and saturation. A balancing act where many manufacturers are breaking their backs, but where Google excels with a somewhat annoying ease.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The Pixel 3 XL’s hybrid zoom is powerful to a certain extent. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

Even without a long focal length lens, the Pixel 3 XL is perfectly capable of zooming in and producing convincing results. Thanks to the power of its algorithm, Google will smooth and recompose the image as if nothing had happened. A method that finds its limits when you want to go too far, but which allows you to double the focal length without being able to make the difference with an iPhone XS for example.

But it’s at night that the Pixel 3 XL impresses the most. Thanks to the built-in Night Mode, the flagship is able to capture very difficult scenes by exposing them correctly. A true feat, with which only the recent Huawei P30 Pro seems to be able to compete.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Pixel 3 is really impressive at night. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

The Pixel 3 XL is also comfortable in portrait, even if the rendering leaves little room for the progressive bokeh. Some situations give the impression that the background has been blurred on a post-production software – the vagaries of the all-digital world! At the front, on the other hand, the problem is less of a problem. And the addition of a wide-angle lens is perfectly justified. Indeed this second module (equivalent to a focal length of 19 mm) offers a viewing angle of about 97°, which greatly facilitates group selfies.

Google Pixel 3 XL test

Google Pixel 3 XL test

The wide-angle module at the front is a nice addition. Credits : Pierre Crochart for Clubic

Video is not to be outdone, and the Pixel 3 XL allows the user to choose between 1080p60 or 4K at 30 frames per second. Stabilization is exemplary in both cases.

Google Pixel 3 XL : the opinion of Clubic

At first glance, Google’s new flagship is confusingly classic. Form factor seen and reviewed, thick notch denaturing its front face and especially technical data sheet worthy of early 2018. But here’s the thing: all Google’s attention has been focused on one and only one aspect of his phone: photography.

And on this point, it is impossible to take Pixel 3 by default. Flawless by day, bluffing by night, the smartphone’s unique photo module is irritatingly perfect, and knocks out almost all the competition, which parades itself with two, three and sometimes four cameras.

But is it necessary to pass on to Pixel 3 XL all its defects on the altar of photophony? Certainly not, and we will recommend that future buyers spend their money with full knowledge of the facts. The Pixel 3 XL suffers from a really massive design, lazy finishes but even more from an interface that negates all the efforts that other manufacturers have conceded over the years. All this combined with a range a little short for a smartphone sold for almost €1000.

Google Pixel 3 XL

+ Pleasant to the touch

+ Beautifully designed screen…

+ High-end performance (from 2018)

+ Unbeatable in photography

– Extra wide chassis

– … dimly lit

– Insufficient autonomy

– Android Stock is a plague

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