Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Pixel 3 XL One Month Later

The 3rd generation Pixel smartphones were launched one month ago, and I’ve been using the Pixel 3 XL as my daily driver since then. My experience with the Pixel 3 XL has been mostly excellent. This post is about my thoughts on the Pixel 3 XL after having used it for some time.

As I shared in my original review of the Pixel 3 XL, there’s a lot to like about Google’s latest smartphones. The third generation Pixel smartphones brings us the best Android experience in a device that is more refined and polished than ever. The camera is absolutely one of the best things about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones, even if there aren’t any DxOMarks scores to be shared this time around.

With many new flagship smartphones launches, including Google’s, some problems will start to show up in the initial weeks after the devices get into people’s hands. It’s no surprise that the Pixel 3 smartphones are having some problems too. However, this year, the more significant problems are in software, and software can usually be easily fixed. Indeed, Google has acknowledged the issues and promised fixes. This includes issues with memory management, appearance of second notch, and camera app occasionally not saving photos.

The Pixel 3 XL has pulled through the first month without hardware problems that can be showstoppers. That’s a relief, considering the issues with premature display burn-in that plagued last year’s Pixel 2 XL.

The notched display on the Pixel 3 XL has been quite a polarising issue for many people. In my original review, I didn’t think it was a serious matter. It is large, and lesser of it is better of course. But I hadn’t found that the notch actually impaired my enjoyment of the Pixel 3 XL. Just treat that notch area as bonus screen space, if you will. It’s much cleaner to achieve extra display area this way than in the style of a tiny secondary display beside the front-facing camera like the LG V10 did.

Notch on the Pixel 3 XL

After using the Pixel 3 XL for some time now, I find that the notch does deprive me of seeing all or more of my notification and status icons at once. I sometimes simply leave a notification there, choosing not to deal with it. Hence, I may accumulate several notifications, and I can’t see all the icons now because the notch reduces the space available for them. As a result, I’m forced to more frequently pull down my notification shade just to see which apps I have outstanding notifications for.

Still, I don’t think this makes the Pixel 3 XL’s notch a showstopper. Maybe we’ll get a smaller notch next year, or none at all. But for now, if Google thinks that amount of space is needed for a fantastic camera, I’ll take the fantastic camera. Also the front speakers too.

The Pixel 3 XL’s front-facing speakers are finally really good enough that I’m now finding myself watching video more frequently, with sound directly from those speakers. It’s not only just louder, which is much appreciated, but the sound quality is much better, particularly with much fuller body and better bass.

Then, again, there’s the camera. Photos are very impressive. Some of the photos I use on my blog are actually taken with the Pixel 2 XL, and now also the Pixel 3 XL. Sometimes it’s just more convenient to use my smartphone instead of my usual Sony mirrorless camera.

I’m very looking forward to Night Sight. It’s still not officially launched, though it will be really very soon now. If you cannot wait, you can try this trick to get access to it now.

Battery life on the Pixel 3 XL has not disappointed me. It is not worse than the Pixel 2 XL, despite a slightly larger screen and yet slightly smaller battery. I get by comfortably an entire day with moderate use which includes mostly web browsing, social media, photos, some music, some YouTube.

Regretably, there is no word on when Call Screening will come to Singapore. This is a feature that uses Google’s Duplex technology to answer your calls, like a human personal assistant, who asks whom’s calling and for what purpose, then transcribing the responses to text you can read. You decide if you want to take the call.

The biggest disappointment for me is the lack dual SIM support. People this part of the world really appreciate this feature, something I think the Americans just don’t understand. Dual SIM will make the Pixel 3 XL the perfect Android smartphone in my books, at least right now.

The Pixel 3 XL is a very enjoyable smartphone. Google’s legendary Pixel camera capabilities continue to impress, and the slick pure Android experience is simply awesome.

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