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Google Pixel 3 review: the most helpful smartphone you can buy


Posted on October 19, 2018

3 min read

Google’s latest and greatest smartphone, the Pixel 3, is out in our stores on November 1. But what’s new, and what’s exciting about the newest Android smartphone from the company that makes Android itself? We reviewed the Pixel 3 XL, the larger model of the two new handsets, built around a very impressive 6.3-inch OLED screen.

Google wants to make the Pixel 3 the most helpful and most useful device in your life, and it has promised to fulfil that wish by adding in a host of new features powered by artificial intelligence. Using its huge trove of expertise in things like voice and image recognition, Google has imbued the Pixel 3 with what it says is the best camera on a smartphone, and with the power of the voice-activated Google Assistant to help you throughout your day.

A beautiful screen, and a matching design

The first thing you notice about the Google Pixel 3 is its big, bright screen. The Pixel 3 XL’s 6.3-inch flexible OLED panel has excellent contrast – this tech means black areas of the screen are properly black and bright whites are completely white, which makes everything on screen look fantastic. Its 2960×1440 pixel resolution is sharp and detailed, too, and the screen extends past the front-facing cameras with extra real estate for your notifications.

The design of the phone has been further refined since last year’s Pixel 2, with an all-glass back with a two-tone finish created by a specialised etching process on the lower portion – which looks great on all of the Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink colour options, and makes the phone easier to grip. That glass back also means the Pixel 3 can be charged wirelessly with any Qi-certified wireless charger, like Google’s own new Pixel Stand. Both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have much-improved stereo speakers with deep, full sound – excellent for those impromptu YouTube sessions when you’re hanging out with friends.

The Pixel 3’s battery is even smarter – Adaptive Battery software gives time and energy to the apps you use, and restricts the ones you don’t, making your charge last longer as you use your Pixel 3 more. Another first for the Pixel series is that the new Google Pixel 3 is IP68 water resistant. This means that it’s certified to be fresh water resistant to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes – although it’s still not advisable to take it swimming, because that certification is not for salt or chlorinated water.

A better and smarter camera, and two front cameras for selfies

We all use the cameras on our smartphones all the time, whether it’s snapping a quick photo at a party with friends or capturing that crucial bit of info like a street sign or business card. And the Pixel 3’s camera is excellent, we’re happy to say! Not only is it incredibly detailed in every situation we’ve tried it in, but it has a new Night Sight Mode that uses AI to stack multiple photos in a dark setting which works wonders – no more blurry photos at the pub or club. New on the Pixel 3 is its ability to adjust the level of background blur on Portrait mode snaps, so you can really make your photographic subjects stand out from the crowd.

A smart camera feature called Top Shot will, when you capture a burst photo, pick out the best of the bunch. That means no accidental blinking or crooked grins in a group photo, and the ability to select the moment during a burst of action. Google’s also been working hard to improve quality when you’re zooming in while snapping a photo, using all of its machine learning smarts to capture several photos in quick succession and comparing them to amplify detail in a feature it calls Super Res Zoom.

From the second you open the Pixel 3’s camera app, Google Lens tech works in the background to recognise names, email addresses and phone numbers in the frame to help you quickly make a call or save info to your contacts. Google Lens can even recognise everyday goods and pieces of clothing and give you a quick search result of where you might be able to buy a similar item, to really help exercise your online shopping muscle.

The front cameras on the Pixel 3 are well worthy of a mention, too – and yes, there’s two of them. Google has a new wide-angle camera for ‘group selfies’ alongside the regular front-facing camera, and the end result is the best selfies we’ve ever seen from an Android phone. Wide-angle selfies are great for capturing a larger group of friends, or for sharing the expansive scenery behind you if you’re in the great outdoors. Google’s Portrait mode also makes for beautifully blurred backgrounds on the selfie camera – so even your group photos can look professionally captured.

Google Assistant for a little extra help through your day

Everything about the Android experience on the new Google Pixel 3 has been re-imagined with a little extra help from the Google Assistant. The Assistant responds to your voice and your questions – and it can understand Australian accents, too.

You can ask it to take a photo for you, to set a reminder or add to your shopping list, or to quickly find a photo from your library or a fact from Google Search. The Pixel 3 lets you trigger Google Assistant with your voice by saying “OK, Google” – even when the screen is off – or also by giving your phone a quick squeeze when it’s in your hands.

The Pixel 3’s Android software is also deeply integrated with a feature that Google calls Digital Wellbeing. It gives you more insight on how you use your phone and when, what apps you spend the most time in, and even lets you set gentle restrictions on how long you can spend scrolling through your social media feeds.

You can even ask your phone to “wind down” through Google Assistant to switch the screen to greyscale, turn on Do Not Disturb mode and get you ready for a good night’s sleep.

Google bundles a fast USB-C charger and cable in the box with the Pixel 3, as well as a pair of Pixel USB-C earbuds and an adapter to connect any other wired headphones to your phone too. The bundled USB-C cable makes it easy to transfer your data from another recent Android, and a quick switch adapter supports USB cables from many other devices too. We also sell a range of accessories including wireless charging pads, cases and cables to make the best of your new phone.

There’s so much more that we want to talk about when it comes to the Pixel 3, but we’ll have plenty of opportunities before it launches in-store and online on November 1 – so stay tuned. If we’ve convinced you already, you can pre-order a Google Pixel 3 or Google Pixel 3 XL here before then!

Customers who take up the Google Pixel 3 64GB on the $99 Mobile Lease Plan with a $0 monthly handset lease payment (min cost $2,376 over 24 months when handset returned in good working order¹) will receive 30GB of mobile data as well as Peace of Mind Data which is speed capped at 1.5Mbps (which is not suitable for HD video or high speed applications, and means that some web pages, video/social media content and files may take longer to load) and slowed further during busy periods. For personal use in a smartphone in Australia only, is not shareable and the FairPlay Policy applies.

Peace of Mind Data allows customers to stream SD videos and music, and stay in touch on social media while on the go, without worrying about extra data charges if they exceed their monthly data allowance. The speeds customers actually receive may vary depending on a range of factors including their device, location, user numbers and download sources.

Customers will also receive a bonus Google Home Mini (RRP $79) when they pre-order with Telstra, for an integrated home and mobile Google experience. Subject to stock availability instore and online.

Customers will also receive all the great extras exclusively available to Telstra mobile customers like data-free streaming of AFL, NRL, Netball and A-League and access to Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network. Based on national average mobile speeds.

Google Lens and Google Assistant require an internet connection. For available Google Lens languages, visit Google Photos Help.

Things you need to know

  • Google Home Mini Gift: Google Home Mini requires Wi-Fi, and a nearby electrical outlet. Subject to stock availability in stores. Available to new and recontracting customers with all Mobile and Mobile Lease Plans (excluding plans with Apple devices). Not redeemable for cash.
  • Device Lease Contract (DLC): If you cancel early you may incur early termination fees and total min cost may be higher.
  • Mobile Lease Plans: You must lease an eligible phone for 24 months. You don’t own the phone, and must return it at the end of the lease unless you make an offer to purchase it. If your lease is cancelled within 12 months, you must pay a fee based on the RRP of your device. If your lease is cancelled after 12 months, you can return the phone and pay $99 if in good working order. In both cases you must also pay any additional early termination charges or accessory option repayments options. Additional fees up to $499 apply if you return a damaged phone, the locking features have not been disabled, you cancel your lease early and return a damaged phone or you don’t return your phone at the end of your lease. Learn more about leasing here.
  • Foxtel Now: Data charges apply. Limit 1 offer for new Foxtel Now customers only.
  • Sports App: Only Suncorp Super Netball, Australian based test matches and Fast 5 World Series live. Data-free on the Telstra Mobile Network. For use in Australia. Learn more here.
  • Pixel, Google, Google Lens, Google Assistant, Google Home Mini, Google Photos and other Google marks are trade marks of Google Inc. Foxtel marks are used under licence by Foxtel Management Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

® are registered trade marks and ™ are trade marks of Telstra Corporation Limited, ABN 33 051 775 556.