Google announced a bunch of products at its Made by Google event on Tuesday, but the biggest highlight of the show were the shiny new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones. The new Pixel phones look different from their predecessors and pack more powerful specs. But are they worth upgrading if you own a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? Or are they worth their increased price tags? Let’s dive into a detailed Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2 comparison to see what has changed and whether you should upgrade.
Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2: Design and display
Google has managed to pack bigger screens on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL compared to their predecessors without noticeably increasing the overall form factor. The new Pixel 3 packs a 5.5-inch display compared to 5-inch on last year’s Pixel 2. The Pixel 3 XL gets a 6.3-inch screen, a modest jump from 6-inch on the Pixel 2 XL.
The new models have slimmer bezels compared to their predecessors. The Pixel 3 XL also sports a display cutout at the top to expand the screen area, though it still has a thick chin at the bottom to accommodate the speaker. Google claims the front-firing speakers on the latest models are about 40% louder than last year’s Pixel phones.
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The back panel of new phones is made out of glass to facilitate wireless charging. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the first Google phones to facilitate wireless charging. However, they retain the dual-tone design of their predecessors. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL use both matte and glossy surfaces on the back to offer you a better grip while also enabling wireless charging.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL come in Clearly White, Just Black, and a new Not Pink color options. In contrast, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were launched in Just Black, Clearly White, Slightly Blue, and Black & White colors.
Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2: Hardware specs
A lot has changed on the new phones but RAM and storage options remain the same: 4GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage. Also, just like the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, the latest offerings lack the 3.5mm headphone jack. Google ditched the audio jack in favor of the USB Type-C port last year.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, the same processor that runs most of the flagship Android phones released this year. The Snapdragon 845 is far more powerful and energy efficient than Snapdragon 835 inside last year’s Pixel phones.
Google’s new Pixel handsets offer wireless charging at up to 10 watts. You may have to buy a separate charger if you want to take advantage of the technology. The company has launched its own $79 Pixel Stand wireless charger that allows you to listen to music and check photos while the device is charging.
The Pixel 3 packs a 2,915mAh battery which is roughly 8% larger than Pixel 2’s 2,700mAh. It will be interesting to see whether the increased battery size boosts its battery life considering the Pixel 3 has a bigger display. The Pixel 3 XL gets a 3,430mAh battery, which is smaller than the Pixel 2’s 3,520mAh pack.
Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2: Camera capabilities
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are still among the world’s best smartphone cameras largely because of their software tricks. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a similar single lens on the back as their predecessors. The rear camera is a 12.2MP lens with an f/1.8 aperture compared to Pixel 2’s 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. It’s the software that gives Pixel 3 camera a big boost.
The new Pixels get a feature called Top Shot to ensure that you capture the best possible photo. Let’s say you are clicking a picture and someone moves or blinks right when you press the shutter. It could ruin the photo and force you to take another one. With Top Shot, you don’t have to take another photo. It will take a burst of HDR pictures and suggest you the best alternative.
Another feature called Super Res Zoom makes up for the lack of the optical zoom functionality on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. You can click the picture and Google’s AI will automatically reframe the shot and zoom in to highlight specific details. Thanks to Google Lens, the Pixel 3 camera can also recognize objects when you point it at menus, posters, and objects are want to buy.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have another AI feature called Night Shift to improve the low-light photography. It uses an algorithm to change the low-light settings automatically. The Pixel 2 already took great pictures in dimly lit conditions but the competition has jumped forward and Google needed to catch up. The Night Shift will also be coming to older Pixel devices, though.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had only a single 8-megapixel camera on the front for selfies. But the new handsets get two 8MP lenses – one with an f/2.2 aperture and another with an f/1.8 aperture – on the front. The second wide-angle lens with a 97-degree field of view lets you fit more background details and more people into a selfie.
Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2: Price
You would expect the Pixel 3 to be priced in the same range as Pixel 2, but you are going to have to pay some extra money for the new features. Last year, the Pixel 2 was launched at $649 and the Pixel 2 XL was priced at $859. Google has priced the Pixel 3 at $799 for the base model, which is a $150 markup from Pixel 2. The Pixel 3 XL starts at $899.
The new Pixel phones remain exclusive to Verizon, though you can purchase an unlocked variant of either device through Google’s online store. The phones will also be available through Project Fi wireless service. This is not an important aspect of our Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 2 comparison but it’s worth mentioning.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are excellent phones. But if you own Pixel 2, the new phones aren’t worth upgrading. If you own another device and are wondering whether to buy the Pixel 3 or Pixel 2, the last year’s model makes a lot more sense than the new one.
Google Pixel 2 is still one of the best phones on the planet. You can get it for a lot cheaper than Pixel 3. The Pixel 2 camera is still comparable to the best in the industry. And some of the Pixel 3’s AI tricks such as Night Shift and Call Screen will be coming to the Pixel 2 via software updates.