The newly announced Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones do impressive things with machine learning when it comes to their camera app. The ability to do resolution comparable 2X zoom to an optical lens by using exposure merging is genius. Their portrait mode is also the best ever made on a phone with incredible separation of background and foreground depth of field based on learning algorithms that can tackle hair transitions and other objects all with only a single lens.
When it comes to video however it is not as good as either the Samsung’s or Apple’s latest flagship phones. The pixel tops at 4k 30p and the slow motion while doing 240fps which matches the iPhone XS it is only 720p instead of 1080p. Google seems to have beefed up the phone for still images and selfies and left the video features on a secondary plane. The slow motion mode is essentially identical to last year’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL at 120fps 1080p and 240fps 720p.
Google Pixel 3 Main Imaging Camera Features:
- Rear Camera
- 12.2MP dual-pixel
- Autofocus + dual pixel phase detection
- Optical + electronic image stabilization
- Spectral + flicker sensor
- f/1.8 aperture
- Field of view: DFoV: 76°
- Rear Camera Video
- 1080p @ 30fps, 60fps, 120fps
- 720p @ 30fps, 60fps, 240fps
- 4K @ 30fps
- Dual Front Cameras
- 8MP wide-angle and normal FoV cameras
- Wide-angle: f/2.2 aperture, 97° FoV
- Normal: f/1.8 aperture, 75° FoV
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones are competitive and according to initial reviews, it shows it to be the main contender for the still image and selfie picture crown for the year. Video mode seems improved in dynamic range, low light, and stabilization but there are no new frame rates or even a timelapse feature that is included in other phones.
Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL hands-on by The Verge:
The video by The Verge above should give you a good indication of the features.
iPhone XS vs Pixel 3 XL Slow Motion?
In the video below it is clear the Google Pixel 3 video mode is inferior to the Apple iPhone XS in almost all metrics except for image stabilization. There is a good direct 240fps comparison at the 16min mark between both phones!
Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max – The ULTIMATE Camera Comparison! by ZONEofTECH:
It is clear the better slow motion phone is the iPhone XS in that comparison but the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy S9 at 960fps should be able to at least offer slower frame rates that really push the spec forward. The iPhone does better 1080p 240fps than the Samsung phone or Google at 720p so keep that in mind. The Sony Xperia XZ2, XZ3 phones at 960fps 1080p for a very small amount of time are not really that useful but the 480fps mode on the OnePlus 6 for a whole minute of playback does make it a contender if slower frame rates are one of your primary needs.
Google is innovating in software rather than hardware on the camera features, let’s hope they do better on the video side by this time next year when they should release a Pixel 4 handset. As of now we really cannot recommend the Pixel 3 and 3 XL as good slow-motion value phones because of the limited feature set, low video resolution at 240 fps for 2018, and the high price tag starting at $799 for the cheapest configuration / passing $1000 for the better ones.
We will have some real and verifiable slow motion samples of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL when they become available. The ones found on youtube are fakes for the most part. -HSC