Hands-on Review: Google Pixel 3 - PhotoBite
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Hands-on Review: Google Pixel 3

Luke Gardner - 7 months ago

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the cameras on today’s smartphones are getting better and better, seemingly with every launch.  Not only optically, but leaps in software development has made these imaging devices a real force to be reckoned with, [not to mention, an ever-growing thorn in the side of traditional camera manufacturers, as well]. Arriving at the doors of PhotoBite HQ, the Pixel 3 had also delivered high expectations within the team, with many great claims for the imaging capability. We set to work to give this latest device, the PhotoBite ‘hands-on’ treatment.

Key Features

  • 12.2-megapixel camera
  • Snapdragon 845
  • 5.5-inch FHD+ Display
  • 4GB RAM/ 64GB internal storage [128GB version also available]
  • Android Pie
  • Price [at time of review] £739

It’s clear that Google has focussed a lot of its energy on the camera/software capability in their mobile devices, but they aren’t the only brand putting in the hours to perfect their camera technology. It seems clear, though, that Google has made a splash since the debut of the first Pixel mobile device, which has put many other smartphone brands on their guard.

Google has had plenty of opportunities to work out the kinks with the Pixel series and start pushing the creativity possibilities delivered by their smartphones. One of the new features is the two 8-megapixel cameras that you’ll find on the front of the device. The first camera offers a ‘regular’ focal length for ‘regular’ selfie-taking, but for groups, they have now introduced a wide angle lens within the new second camera, making it easier to capture group shots or to ensure as much of the background is in the shot [if required].

Google Pixel 3

Since Google owns the Android operating system, [OS] you’ll get access to a pure android experience, [called Android Pie] with the Pixel 3, which you won’t get with the likes of Samsung and Huawei, who utilise their own skins and secondary software running over the Android system.  

In a recent update, Google released their version of a night photography setting called ‘Nightsight’. After thorough testing, we can say it’s pretty good. It’s a lot better than some mobile brand’s low light shooting capabilities, but we found the blacks were really quite grainy and the image noise was obvious.  However, in saying that, the general dynamic range was very, very impressive, giving almost perfect shots every time.

We did find selfies were a little dark around the eyes in sunny conditions and you can see on both the front and the back cameras are applying a lot of software clout, pushing saturation, sharpness and shadows, in order to give you the best possible photo.

Another nice feature is the Pixel 3’s Top Shot AI camera feature. This basically hunts for the perfect frame for you, where everyone is smiling and with all eyes open. It then recommends the shot to be taken and, as quick as a flash, it’s done. This is a neat feature for anyone who’s keen to ensure that they get the best possible shot when moments are fleeting. Another sign of Google’s further integration of their core search functions is the fact that you can Google search what the device sees with the impressive Google Lens.

The Google Pixel 3’s general dynamic range was very, very impressive, giving almost perfect shots every time.

See below for a gallery of example images from our testing


If you’re an avid smartphone photographer, we think you’ll be happy with this device, given how easy it is to use – but you can have to expect the camera to do the bulk of the work for you so perhaps not so great if you’d like to have more control of your image making.

Given the lack of manual control available with the Google Pixel 3, you can expect to have little choice in terms of the various basic parameters that you’d be likely to want to alter with your photography.  If you want more control we’d suggest looking at Huawei’s devices, which include a dedicated ‘Pro’ feature, offering RAW imaging capabilities. With that being said, the selfie-takers out there will love the Google Pixel 3 and the bokeh effect does a great job of blurring the background – even if this is achieved predominantly by software applications.


Tap below to watch our hands-on video review:


Pricing and availability

The Google Pixel 3 [5.5” screen] is available now and at the time of review, came in at £739 for the 64GB version and £839 for the 128GB version. The big brother – Pixel 3 XL with a 6.3” screen comes in at £869 for the 64 GB version and £969 for the 128GB version at the time of review.

4/5

PhotoBite Google Pixel 3 review -
Google Pixel 3:- The Google Pixel 3 is a solid device, which runs a pure version of the Android operating system, so many will be happy with the reliability and functionality of the latest smartphone from Google. That said, when it comes to the imaging capabilities, options become rather more limited. Whilst very clever, the software that drives the device takes ultimate control of the finished images, pushing fundamental factors with the aim of delivering the best picture for you. Great for snappers and photo-amateurs, but not so great for enthusiasts or anyone who wants to have more of a say in what their photographs look like. This is a smartphone for the casual snapper and that's just fine.

Pros

  • Great design, lovely wide-angle [2nd] lens and clever internal software, delivering sharp images with nice effects. Good control of highlights and shadows.

Cons

  • Not enough control of image capture settings with no dedicated 'Pro' option and not the best when it comes to selfie mode in bright conditions. Night mode is OK but struggles to balance noise in darker areas.

About the author

Read Hands-on Review: Google Pixel 3

Luke Gardner

Features Editor @ PhotoBite

Luke lives and breaths photography. With experience working freelance, in retail and also teaching photography; Luke has been exposed to a broad spectrum of knowledgeable people and has a real hunger to explore what others are up to in this incredibly creative world. Starting from the age of 12 his fascination with photography as done nothing but fuel his ambition to create and explore all areas in the photographic world. Luke’s role at PhotoBite ranges from feature writing to testing equipment, with his natural teaching skills seeing him take his place as in-house presenter for camera hardware and accessories on the PhotoBite YouTube channel.

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