Google’s latest flagship phone, the Pixel 3, is basically the tech industry’s worst-kept secret this year.
The leaks flowed across the internet since late May, and by June, folks already had a glimpse into how Google’s flagship phones would look like in the flesh. With unboxing videos put out by Russian tech bloggers and Engadget even managing to purchase one in Hong Kong a few days before the actual reveal, really, there was nothing much left to the imagination. Was there anything we don’t already know about the 5.5” Pixel 3 and its bigger iteration, the 6.3” Pixel 3 XL?
Turns out, there was still a lot to learn about when the search giants unveiled their new line of products in a Made By Google event yesterday in New York. Despite assumptions that Google was trolling everyone, it turned out that the leaks really did showcase the official line of products — namely their new phones, a special charging stand, a tablet called the Pixel Slate and the company’s own smart home display Google Home Hub.
Aside from the phones and the charging stand, Google’s launch event in Singapore earlier this morning didn’t even acknowledge the existence of the Pixel Slate and Google Home Hub. Sad news for smart home fans and seekers of alternatives to Apple’s own iPad Pro, but eh, we’ll live.
Of course, you’re here for the Pixel 3. Let’s get this out of the way — it’s a premium phone that’s helluva lot cheaper than Apple’s ridiculous price points for their iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. The Pixel 3 starts at S$1,249 and the Pixel 3 XL starts at S$1,399, which are hundreds of dollars cheaper than the entry-level 64GB iPhone Xs. Another welcome change from last year is that Google’s flagship is no longer exclusive to just one telco; both Singtel and StarHub will have the phones available in stores come Nov 1. Only Singtel, however, will offer the ‘Not Pink’ shade of phones.
Pre-orders have already gone live today on Google Store and the websites of both telcos.
Google being Google, the improvements in their latest flagships are in their software. It’s most noticeable in their top-notch cameras (still a single rear lens, but now with two at the front), which has been upgraded with even more machine learning magic and next-level AI. In a nutshell: front-facing selfies can go even wider, low-light shooting gets even better with latter-year feature Night Sight, sharper images come in the form of stabilizing software Super Res Zoom. The feature that everyone will come to welcome is Top Shot, where the AI makes photos look picture perfect by shooting a bunch of stills at once and selecting the best one from the batch. Essentially, au revoir blurred faces (or even blur sotong looks) and closed eyes.
That hideous notch though.
Google also played up their Titan Security chip that is built into their new devices, which is claimed to provide a more secure experience for users. It’s supposed to help protect credentials and sensitive on-device data, strengthen disk encryption and the such, but we won’t know really how it works until a breach occurs. Maybe it’ll even help prevent Google from leaking out information about the Pixel 4 next year (badum-tish!).
Then there’s the Pixel Stand, the company’s wireless charger specially built for the Pixel 3 with uber-fast wireless charging. When docked with a Pixel 3 phone, it’ll turn into a smart display of sorts as it automatically adjusts the phone’s UI to provide relevant information such as weather, traffic, reminders and calendar events. It could even turn into a live photo frame, displaying favorites from Google Photos. The Pixel Stand will retail for S$119, and it’ll be free for Singtel customers who sign up for data add-on bundles when pre-ordering the Pixel 3.