Check out the hole in the letter "P" in the neon "SHOP" and the, well, no hole in the same letter in the Pixel 3 photo. These were shot 30 minutes after the above night cityscape so it was even darker on the rooftop. Pay attention to both the exposure of the Empire State Building's lights and my face.
In the Pixel 3 photo, my face is more visible, but the Empire State Building is not. There's also a lot more image noise in the Pixel 3 shot. In comparison, the Pixel 2 repeatedly failed to autofocus on my face resulting in either super blurry shots or a dark one like the one shown here. The Note 9 photo is a softened mess. Out of all the low-light photos, the iPhone XS is the most consistent from corner-to-corner.
The colors are accurate, the Empire State Building is exposed decently though not the best as is my face, and image noise is the best of the four. The Pixel 2 phones really impressed with their ability to shoot portrait-style photos with only a single camera, relying on AI to blur out the background with convincing results. With the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, Google employs the same software trick, and it's better than before. Just take a look at these adorable and beautiful shots of Rufus the French bulldog.
Android 10 beta is complete, but watch this space!
The portrait taken with the Pixel 3 is sharp, has nice dynamic range, and the default background blur called "bokeh" in photographic terms is creamy a good thing without looking fake. The Pixel 2 again takes darker-looking shots. The iPhone XS uses its second 2x telephoto lens so it's a tighter crop, but the bokeh is really soft.
The Note 9 shot is another hot mess. Using the Pixel 3's new depth editor within Google Photos, I dialed the background blur to its maximum setting. And I'm not even gonna comment on the Note 9's maximum blur. The Pixel 2 hasn't received the depth adjustment feature yet so I wasn't able to toss that into the comparison ring. What really sets the iPhone XS's depth adjustment apart from the Pixel 3's is the way in which the blur is generated.
Compare the way the bokeh changes as the depth increases. The iPhone isn't just blurring the background — the shape of the blur changes as well, in the same way it does when you shoot with DSLR lenses with different apertures. A 60 percent crop with the background at maximum blur. The Pixel 3 sharpens the dog's face the most. By far the best feature on the Pixel 3's is the depth effect editor. Not only can you change how how blurry the background is, but you can also make the foreground pop by turning the background black and white. Furthermore, you can change the focus Lytro camera style to another point in the picture.
This to me is a real exhibit of Google's machine learning.
Hidden Android Tracker App for Google Pixel 3 – BlurSPY
That you can change change the focus from the foreground to the background without any hardware capturing depth information is remarkable. Color pop can literally be rough around the edges, leaving some edges with hints of color , and setting the foreground with maximum blurriness is comically bad, as you can see in the comparisons below.
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But the technology is no doubt powerful stuff. I also can't wait for when Google will be able to colorize old black and white photos. It's gonna be wild. The back camera s always get all the attention on new phones, but some people will tell you selfies are life. On the Pixel 3 phones, Google's leveled up the selfie game with a second camera with a wider field of view so you can get that landmark into your shot or squeeze more people into a frame.
Switching between the two selfie cameras is one smooth scroll on the screen's zoom meter. As with any lens with a wider angle, there is some distortion. My head looks tiny compared to my body in these two selfies. I'm not one to take many group selfies, but if I was, the secondary camera sure would be useful. Ellen would definitely appreciate since she took the most epic celebrity selfie of all time.
I, on the other hand, apparently only have friends who clearly hate selfies and would rather pick their nose and throw up jazz hands. I'm just kidding, they're awesome! Kevin, please don't kill me.
As far as which phone takes The Best Selfie. I'm gonna have to say the Pixel Both the iPhone XS and Note 9 struggled to expose the scene without me needing to tap-to-lock focus on my face. The Pixel 3 pic is just a hair soft in the face, but that could have been corrected if I had tapped to focus on my face. Even the Pixel 2's selfie looks good, if not for slightly darker tones. For the sake of completeness, I took some selfies at night as well. All four phones were set to auto, and they all engaged the flash. Personally, I think all of these night selfies look horrendous flash photography at night is the worst , but if I had to choose one to share to Instagram it'd be the Pixel 3 photo.
It's the sharpest of the bunch and even though the flash illuminates my face in an artificial way, a filter can make that look just a little better.
As always, I leave you with a selection of some of my favorite shots taken with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. All of these are straight out of the camera app and no edits were made before posting.
Feel free to click on them to see their original files. While I'm personally not a fan of the artistic liberties Google takes with producing the images with such contrasty tones, you may disagree and there's nothing wrong with that. Similar to the discussions I had with readers in our iPhone XS and XS Max review, I welcome anyone to a conversation on Twitter raywongy or on Instagram sourlemons if you want to talk about the Pixel 3 cameras in greater depth. To open recent apps, you now swipe up from the home gesture bar.
Suspended apps are now presented on a horizontal carousel instead of a vertical one. To return to the home screen, just tap on the gesture bar. However, if you find the gestures really intolerable, you can revert back to the old navigation buttons. The new dark theme is also easier on the eyes yo tech companies: dark mode everything, please! These aesthetic changes are all welcome, but the most important addition to Pie is the added AI and machine learning.
But how is that any different from the Nexus phones that were discontinued after the Pixels launched? For example, in Pie there are App Actions, which uses on-device machine learning to learn your habits and predict what you might want do to next. Pie then suggests shortcuts to actions in the form of buttons located at the top of the app drawer. Slices is another Pie feature that was created to help you quickly do something within the Google search bar instead of having to open up an app.
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But it sounds useful. Pie also has a couple of adaptive features for brightness and battery life. Similarly, adaptive battery battery learns which apps you use the most and then diverts power to it from others. The Assistant transcribes the caller's voice message live and it's fast at doing it.
As the caller replies, the Assistant transcribes their voice message live on the screen so you can decide to either pick up or hang up the call. Call Screen is remarkably fast at transcribing and usually nails the accuracy if the caller enunciates clearly. Google says Call Screen is great for screening annoying spam and telemarketing calls. Lens is also faster at recognizing things and doing so in low-light situations. This is a limited version of Lens that works offline and can ID simple things like phone numbers, email addresses, and other text — no launching into the Lens mode or long pressing to activate it, just point the camera at something like a business card.
I tried it on my business card and it was able to pull out my phone number and email address, though not both at the same time. It was also at slower at ID'ing contact info from the car than with the full Lens feature. But more times than not, it does. Lens is an ever-expanding technology that gets smarter as the AI and machine learning behind it gets smarter and is trained to recognize more things. Android 9 Pie also introduces a bunch of new features under its "Digital Wellbeing" section designed to curb the addictive nature of phones.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Review: Software Is Eating Your Phone | WIRED
The feature also lets you limit how much time you spend using certain apps. It'll be especially great for parents looking to reign in their kids' phone usage. The round chart is easier to read at a glance than the the bar graphs on iOS 12, though the latter provides more in-depth reports. Flip it back up to turn the mode off. In fact, almost all of the new AI features announced for the Pixel 3 will be released for the original Pixel and Pixel 2 phones.
That includes Call Screen, which launches on the Pixel 3 but will be added to older Pixels in November, and Duplex coming later in the year. Performance is my least favorite thing to talk about whenever I review new smartphones.
Nor are there any bloatware apps. Note: My Verizon test SIM automatically installed two carrier apps, but I was able to uninstall them; other carriers might install more or none at all. Don't worry, you can run Fortnite just fine. Latency will depend more on your WiFi connectin. While I care more about real-life usage, benchmarks matter to a certain degree.
Running three tests and getting the average, the Pixel 3 scored a single-core score of 2, and multi-core score of 8, On the same CPU test, the Pixel 3 XL scored average of 1, single-core score and an average of 6, on the multi-core score.