Google confirms the Pixel 3 and 3 XL only have gesture-based navigation
We've been going in that direction for a while now and it appears we are picking up speed - the gesture-based navigation will no longer be an option going forward. While last year's Pixel 2 and 2 XL had the option of choosing between the good old software buttons and the new Android 9.0 Pie gestures, the new Pixel 3 and 3 XL cannot disable the gestures.
It was further confirmed in a tweet by @madebygoogle and it looks like Google's team isn't talking only about the new duo of Pixels. We could very well see all phones adopt the new way of navigating through menus.
Hi! Pixel 3 introduces a new pattern that will represent navigation on all Android phones going forward. While change & adapting to new patterns is hard, we believe it's a better navigation pattern & makes app switching a faster experience.— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) October 9, 2018
But the tweet raises some valid questions. For example, will the new gestures be enforced to the rest of the OEMs or the custom Android ROMs will have the option of keeping the software buttons? Only time will tell, we guess.