Google Pixel 3 review

Angie Zampona, 31 October 2018.

A tall, 5.5-inch P-OLED

Last year's Small-sized Phone by Google was out of touch with industry trends with its 16:9 display that was also a tiny 5-incher. For the Pixel 3, on the other hand, Google's gone with an 18:9 screen, and it's one without a notch - yay! Then again, the Pixel 3 XL has enough of a notch for both of them.

Google Pixel 3 review

Anyway, the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch FullHD OLED panel with a pixel density of 443ppi. In our testing it reached a peak brightness of 426nits - a fairly typical maximum value for modern OLED displays. However, a lot of other makers allow for a boost in auto mode, which the Pixel 3 doesn't. The Galaxy S9 can go as high as 660nits when the ambient light sensor says so, and the iPhone XS can go as high at your own request with the slider. So, a good showing by the Pixel, but not class leading.

We measured a minimum brightness of 2.4nits, so it won't be a burden on the eyes in very dark environments.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Google Pixel 2 0 432
Google Pixel 3 0 426
Samsung Galaxy S9 0 370
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Max Auto) 0 658
HTC U12+ 0.2 366 1830
HTC U12+ (Max Auto) 0.214 389 1818
LG G7 ThinQ 0.225 460 2044
LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor) 0.499 920 1844
Xiaomi Mi 8 0 458
Xiaomi Mi 8 (Max Auto) 0.002 624 312000
Oppo Find X 0 426
Motorola Moto Z3 0 464
Motorola Moto Z3 (Max Auto) 0 652
Sony Xperia XZ3 0 442
Sony Xperia XZ3 (Max Auto) 0 620
Apple iPhone XS 0 660
Razer Phone 2 0.401 380 948
Razer Phone 2 (Max Auto) 0.403 426 1057
OnePlus 6T 0 453
OnePlus 6T (Max Auto) 0 455
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 0.002 508 254000
Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Max Auto) 0.003 657 219000
Huawei Mate 20 0.347 491 1415
Huawei Mate 20 (Max Auto) 0.554 778 1404
Huawei P20 Pro 0 412
Huawei P20 Pro (Max Auto) 0 582

In our sunlight legibility test, the Pixel 3 doesn't disappoint, scoring just short of the industry leaders. At the current state of affairs, you really can't get a high-end device that performs poorly under direct light.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone XS
    5.171
  • Apple iPhone X
    5.013
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    4.965
  • OnePlus 5T
    4.789
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    4.63
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    4.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    4.531
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4.516
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    4.502
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • Google Pixel 3
    4.35
  • OnePlus 6
    4.321
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Oppo R15 Pro
    4.251
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • OnePlus 6T
    4.138
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • vivo V11
    4.113
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    4.087
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    4.086
  • Meizu 15
    4.082
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    4.052
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
    4.023
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • vivo NEX S
    4.012
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
    3.998
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor)
    3.978
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Oppo Find X
    3.954
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    3.901
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    3.865
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    3.842
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018)
    3.834
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco
    3.745
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone)
    3.725
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Huawei P20
    3.683
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
    3.675
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    3.58
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Nokia 7 plus
    3.479
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Motorola Moto G6
    3.448
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Plus
    3.445
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    3.445
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    3.419
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018)
    3.397
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera
    3.393
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    3.39
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor Play
    3.349
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo F7
    3.333
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Archos Diamond Omega
    3.305
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
    3.24
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Oppo Realme 2 Pro
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • BlackBerry KEY2
    3.212
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Oppo R11s
    3.153
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • HTC U11 Life
    3.108
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    3.087
  • HTC U12+
    3.085
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    3.077
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Oppo F9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 3
    3.061
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    3.059
  • Huawei Mate 20
    3.052
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    3.051
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL
    3.019
  • Motorola Moto X4
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Oppo Realme 2
    3.006
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • LG Q6
    2.987
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
    2.966
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    2.952
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    2.951
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    2.938
  • Oppo Realme 1
    2.932
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    2.913
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    2.896
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    2.867
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Nokia 3.1
    2.837
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Nokia 7.1
    2.804
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Honor 10 (Vivid)
    2.757
  • Nokia 2
    2.752
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    2.737
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Huawei Honor 7X
    2.734
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    2.696
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • vivo V7+
    2.671
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    2.654
  • Oppo F5
    2.653
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Huawei P Smart
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • HTC U11+
    2.556
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A (Y1)
    2.556
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • BlackBerry Motion
    2.494
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Vivo V7
    2.404

Out of the box, the Pixel 3's display color profile is set to Adaptive mode, which yields only marginally purplish whites, overall vivid colors and an average DeltaE of 6.0, when compared against an sRGB target. If genuine reproduction of the sRGB target space is what you're after, the Natural mode will deliver that (average DeltaE ot 1.6). Boosted mode was reasonably accurate to a DCI-P3 target posting an average DetlaE of 2.7.

Google Pixel 3 battery life

The Pixel 3 has a 2,915mAh power pack inside, for a 215mAh increase over the Pixel 2's capacity. The screen has grown up in size marginally as well, so the bump in capacity is just about proportional. Meanwhile, the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 has a full 3,000mAh battery at its disposal, while the iPhone XS' L-shaped battery totals 2658mAh. The Xperia XZ3 6-incher has 3,300mAh in the battery capacity field in specs.

In our multi-discipline battery test, this year's Pixel matched the Pixel 2's result in looping videos almost to the minute, for a total of 11 hours of video playback. We measured a drop in the web browsing time from 12 full hours on the Pixel 2 to just over 10 hours on the 3. On the other hand, we observed an increase in call times by almost 50% to a little over 23 hours. We tested and re-tested, and then re-tested again, but standby times were consistently not great, which is what brought down the overall rating to 69 hours, 6 short of the Pixel 2's score.

Google Pixel 3

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Google Pixel 3 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

As for charging, the Pixel 3 supports the Power Delivery standard, just like every Pixel before it. It comes with an 18W charger in the box that takes it from flat to full in 1:42h which isn't half bad. At the 30-minute mark you'd be looking at a 45% charge.

Google Pixel 3 review

The Pixel Stand is an optional wireless charger for the Pixel 3. It will itself only work with a Power Delivery adapter, and there's one in the box, just like the Pixel 3's own one. The Stand offers wireless charging at up to 10W (and as of now is the only wireless charger that can go this high with the Pixel 3), takes about 2:25h for a full charge from zero and the battery indicator shows 24% 30 minutes into it. That is, if you're not using the Pixel's Assistant in the meantime.

Loudspeaker

Google fitted stereo speakers on the second generation Pixels and there's no backtracking from there. The Pixel 3 has a driver above and a driver below the display, and treats the top one as the left channel in the stereo pair if you're holding the phone in portrait orientation, but changes accordingly in landscape. The bottom one is generally more powerful and boomier - that's where most of the low register comes out of.

We ran the Pixel 3 though our usual trio of tests and the numbers put it in the Excellent bracket. The Galaxy S9 and the iPhone XS are a notch below in Very Good, but the Xperia XZ3 is Excellent as well.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Huawei Honor View 10 68.6 69.9 77.8 Good
Honor Play 68.3 73.8 75.8 Good
BlackBerry KEY2 66.5 72.0 79.8 Good
Google Pixel 74.0 68.3 78.0 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 68.1 72.3 82.2 Very Good
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact 66.7 73.3 83.3 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S9 68.5 74.3 81.1 Very Good
OnePlus 6T 67.2 72.5 84.5 Very Good
Apple iPhone XS 71.5 75.7 78.9 Very Good
Huawei Mate 20 74.3 70.2 82.6 Very Good
Oppo Find X 70.7 75.2 81.2 Very Good
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 70.3 73.4 83.8 Very Good
Google Pixel 2 70.0 77.0 81.1 Excellent
Sony Xperia XZ3 71.0 75.4 82.9 Excellent
Google Pixel 3 77.5 71.7 81.1 Excellent
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 72.8 74.7 86.6 Excellent
Motorola Moto Z3 80.1 73.2 85.0 Excellent

Audio quality

The Google Pixel 3 came out rather disappointing in our audio quality test. It’s not that the phone does badly - it’s merely okay, but we certainly expected better from a flagship.

Signal-to-noise ratio is mediocre both with an active external amplifier and with headphones and the stereo crosstalk is not great in the first scenario either. At least headphones don’t worsen the stereo quality much further so it’s doing much better comparatively in the second part.

Now add the only average loudness and you get a performance that would be considered decent for a mid-ranger, but comes significantly short of expectations when you consider the Pixel 3 price tag.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Google Pixel 3+0.02, -0.12-71.783.20.00310.032-70.1
Google Pixel 3 (headphones)+0.15, -0.15-68.480.20.00660.193-61.1
OnePlus 6T+0.03, -0.05-93.493.30.00100.0070-93.8
OnePlus 6T (headphones)+0.17, -0.15-93.293.10.00560.245-61.1
Sony Xperia XZ3+0.01, -0.02-91.293.20.00240.0080-88.7
Sony Xperia XZ3 (headphones)+0.38, -0.21-93.192.50.00490.233-61.7
Oppo Find X+0.03, -0.07-93.493.90.00120.0063-89.3
Oppo Find X (headphones)+0.01, -0.58-92.293.50.00880.330-55.7
HTC U12++0.02, -0.15-94.394.30.00210.0069-94.3
HTC U12+ (headphones)+0.18, -0.13-93.793.60.00240.104-52.7

Google Pixel 3 frequency response
Google Pixel 3 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • Flash

My friend has the same problem

  • Sab

Excellent processor support. I would add on to my previous message.

  • Sab

I bought Google pixel in 2021 to check how it goes so that I can think about pixel phones in future. I would rate it 4 out of 5 . Nice camera, nice resolution , good speaker. I would definitely go for the pixel 6 next year insha ALLAH.