Official Google Pixel 3 XL case hands-on

20 November 2018

Today we have with us the official case for the Google Pixel 3 XL. The Pink Moon color is one of the four available for the phone, with the other options being called Carbon (black), Indigo (blue) and Fog (gray).

The case comes in simple packaging that is identical to the ones Apple uses for its cases.

Packaging Packaging
Packaging

The cases uses a combination of nylon and polyester fabric over a polycarbonate shell. The outside is covered entirely in fabric while the inside is lined with felt, similar to Apple's cases.

Around the sides, the cases has a distinct power button that matches the case color. The volume buttons don't get a similar plastic element on the outside but the fabric is raised slightly so you can still detect them by touch.

At the top of the case is a small cutout for the microphone. On the bottom is a wide cutout for the USB port. The cutout is wider than it needs to be and we are not really sure why.

Around the back, the case has cutouts for the camera and the fingerprint sensor. The camera cutout is wide enough to not intrude into the camera or flash functionality. The fingerprint cutout lets you unlock the phone comfortably, but using swipe gestures to bring down the notification shade becomes a tad difficult.

The case makes no hints towards the two tone nature of the actual back of the phone and just has a uniform finish with a simple color matched Google logo near the bottom.

Inside and out Inside and out Inside and out
Inside and out

Putting the case on and off is very simple. The case fits snugly and doesn't feel like it would come off accidentally.

The feel of the case when new is that of a coarse fabric. The fabric literally feels rough around the edges, but that's the general nature of it. Despite the texture, however, the back is very slippery, more than the actual glass back of the phone. This is common for fabric cases, which tend to be more slippery than silicone or leather ones.

Rough edges everywhere Rough edges everywhere
Rough edges everywhere

The cutout on the bottom is uncomfortable if you adopt the pinky finger grip, where you use your pinky finger to support the bottom of the phone. The corners tend to dig right into the sensitive part where your fingernails begin and really doesn't feel nice at all. Between the cutout and the rough edges, the comfort level of this case is rather low.

The case also adds considerably to the width of the device. This is to be expected, but the Pixel 3 XL is already borderline uncomfortable to use on its own due to its ungainly proportions and with the case on it becomes especially ponderous for single-handed use.

The case does solve one problem though. In our review, we pointed out how difficult it can be to use this phone because of the hyperactive touchscreen, which reacts even if you are holding the phone by its edges. It's frustrating to the point where you can't even hold the phone sideways to watch a video without the screen constantly reacting to your hands on the side. With the case, that's no longer an issue. Of course, any case could fix that, and you don't need to buy this particular one for it.

The case also allows you to use wireless charging, as it should. Moreover, you can also use the Active Edge feature on the phone.

Overall, the official Pixel 3 case is decent. It looks nice, at least when new, but we wish we had more variety in material choices. The case has somewhat rough edges and the cutout at the bottom is bad for your pinky finger. We feel a softer material should solve all these issues. Except the part where it makes the 3 XL into an even more enormous phone.

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