Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Guide: Tips, Tricks and How-Tos

Google’s updated Pixel lineup features a new look, with both the 5.5-inch Pixel 3 and 6.2-inch Pixel 3 XL getting elongated displays (and, in the case of the 3 XL, a notch to free up more screen real estate). But the big story with the updated Pixels isn’t necessarily their looks — it’s what you can do with the new phones.

If you’ve gotten your hands on a Pixel 3 or 3 XL, you’re likely eager to get the most out of your new phone. And in this guide, we’ll help you with tips and how-tos on the new and updated features awaiting you. Some good news: Even though the Pixel 3 and 3 XL come in different shapes and feature different designs, the two different models have identical features (especially when it comes to their standard-setting cameras).

But before we get started, here’s a quick rundown of some of the major changes introduced to the Pixel 3 that you’ll want to explore right away.—Philip Michaels

New camera capabilities

The Pixel lineup has built up a reputation for offering the best smartphone camera you can get, and that continues with the Pixel 3. No, Google hasn’t added a second lens to either the Pixel 3 or 3 XL. Instead, the 12-megapixel camera on both phones has been updated with machine-learning powered tools aimed at improving the pictures you take.

Fire up the camera on your new Pixel and you’ll be able to take immediate advantage of Top Shot which can replace that so-so image you captured with a better one that would have been available had you just snapped the shutter a second or two earlier. Super Res Zoom makes up for the Pixel 3’s lack of optical zoom by using computation photography to sharpen in details when you zoom in.

Another feature, Night Sight, promises to help you take better pictures when the lights are low. Google has brought Night Sight to the Pixel 3 via a software update, and it's as impressive as Google promises in our testing.

Group selfies

There may be just one camera on the back of the Pixel 3, but up front, you’ll find a pair of lenses. That’s all the better to capture your self-portraits — including those shots where you either want to cram in more people or show off more of the background behind you.

Switching between the regular 8-MP lens and the wide-angle version (and its smaller f/2.2 aperture) is as simple as pressing an on-screen minus button, as if you’re zooming out (which, essentially, you are, only with a different lens). Using the wide-angle lens, you’ll be able to capture 184 percent more of the scene than you could with the iPhone XS’s front camera, according to Google.

MORE: How to Take a Wide-Angle Selfie

Call Screen

Google doesn’t limit the Pixel’s smarts to just taking better photos. It’s also putting its AI to work improving the phone part of your smartphone experience.

Credit: YouTubeCredit: YouTubeOn the Pixel 3, the Google Assistant can now answer phone calls on your behalf. The advantage to this? Screen out telemarketers and spam calls. As the assistant answers the call, a real-time transcript appears on the Pixel’s screen, letting you quickly identify if this is a call you really should take. If not, a handy button lets you mark the call as spam.

Don't be envious of the Call Screen feature if you've got an earlier Pixel. Google is in the process of rolling the feature out to all of its phones.

Android 9 Pie enhancements

The Pixel 3 is one of the first smartphones to ship with Android 9 Pie, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Our review of Android Pie details the changes you’ll experience as you use your Pixel 3, but a couple of enhancements to Android should catch your eye.

Android 9 adopts gesture-based navigation in which you’ll swipe your way to the Recents screen and the app drawer, and you can even drag the Home button to scrub through recent apps.

Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing is another Android 9 feature worth exploring. This is Google’s nod toward helping you get a handle on how much you’re staring at your smartphone screen, with several tools aimed at getting you to use your phone less and less. These include an app time limit feature as the ability to silence notifications just by flipping your Pixel so that the screen is face-down.

MORE: 9 Reasons the Pixel 3 Beats the iPhone XS

Wireless charging

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the first phones from Google to support wireless charging. Place them on any Qi-compatible wireless charging device, and you’ll be able to top off their battery without having to plug in.

But Google offers an option of its own — the $79 Pixel Stand. This accessory offers fast wireless charging at 10W, the only add-on capable of that for the new Pixels as of this writing. (Google says third parties will soon have fast-charging Pixel 3 accessories of their own.) The Pixel Stand boasts other features as well, such as shortcuts that appear on the Always On display while your Pixel 3 charges and a Sunrise Alarm feature that changes the glow of the Pixel’s screen to help you wake up.

Image Credits: Tom's Guide

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