Google Pixel 3 takes great shots and drops telemarketers dead

Google showed off a handful of new hardware today, and the headline act was the long-rumored and much-leaked Pixel 3 duo of phones. Judging by the presentation, you could be forgiven for thinking that all the focus was on the Pixel 3's software. We'll be taking a good look at the handset's hardware first, though.

Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3's face is a 5.5" 2160x1080 AMOLED display, a resolution that works out to 443 PPI. Meanwhile, the bigger Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3" screen with a resolution of 2960x1440, or 523 PPI. According to Anandtech, the bigger phone has an OLED panel in it, too. Google says that the displays are covered in sheets of Gorilla Glass 5 and certified by the UHD Alliance for HDR content. The smaller Pixel 3 continues to use a rounded-rectangle screen design with bezels at the top and bottom, while the Pixel 3 XL embraces the notch.

Below the screen, Google stuffs 4 GB of RAM next to a Snapdragon 845 SoC. That chip's faster cores tick away at 2.5 GHz, and the power-sipping units labor at 1.6 GHz. A Pixel Visual Core chip handles image processing duties, while a Titan M security chip offers Apple Secure Enclave-like security for cryptographic keys and other sensitive information. As a welcome move, the Pixel 3 has a finely textured glass cover over most of its surface, something that should help prevent accidental drops and general feelings of stickiness.

The rear camera on both phones is a 12.2-MP dual-pixel unit with an aperture of f/1.8 and a 76° field of view (FoV). It can shoot 1920x1080 video at up to 120 FPS and 4K at 30 FPS. There are two cameras on the phone's face: a wide-angle, 97° f/2.2 snapper and a f/1.8 shooter with a phone-standard 75° FoV. Going by Anandtech's report, the camera hardware itself is little changed from last year's Pixel 2, but that's OK—those phones already had what was widely considered to be the best image-capture system on the market.

Google ships an 18-W charger with the Pixel handsets and says that 15 minute's worth of cable-delivered juice is enough for seven hours of usage. The Pixel 3 has a 2915-mAh battery and weighs 5.2 oz (148 g). The bigger brother Pixel 3 XL uses a 3430-mAh juice pack and is just a tad heavier at 6.5 oz (184 g).

The search titan discussed the Pixel 3's software features at length, particularly concerning the handset's neural-network-powered camera smarts. Top Shot automatically takes HDR several pictures for you and suggests the one where it recognizes open eyes and smiles, in a bid to prevent shots where people look like they've had too many. 

Photobooth is a similar feature that automatically snaps a selfie when it recognizes you smiling or making a "funny expression" (caveat emptor), while Super Res Zoom takes multiple shots and combines them for a higher-resolution image. At least judging by Google's demo, the Pixel 3's camera performance in low light seems rather impressive, too. People with kids, a sense of humor, or both, can make effective use of Playground, a feature that adds characters and objects to pictures in a manner not unlike augmented-reality applications.

We've saved what we think is the best feature for last. In a move that's certain to be loved by telemarketers worldwide, you can have your Pixel 3 automatically answer a call for you. It'll talk to the person on the line and automatically show you a transcript of the conversation. You'll have the option to insert premade replies mid-call, too. The caller will know they're talking to an automated system, which is respectful but also kind of a shame.

The Pixel 3 can be ordered unlocked or through Verizon Wireless or Project Fi in the United States. The price for the 64 GB model is set at $799, and going up to 128 GB of storage will set buyers back $899. Both the size and the price are bigger for the Pixel 3 XL, at $899 for the 64-GB version and $999 for 128 GB. All Pixel 3 handsets can be had in black, white, or "not pink," and will arrive in U.S. customers' hands on October 18.

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