The 10 Best Features of Google Pixel 3

Google has upped their smartphone game

The Google Pixel 3 phone held in front of Pixel Stands.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Pixel 3 looks a lot like earlier Google phones, but it actually packs a lot of interesting features under the hood. The most impressive features all rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to get the most out of the dual front-facing cameras and the single rear camera. This represents the latest implementation of Google's DeepMind initiative.

Other cool features, like expanded functionality for Google Assistant, leverage AI as well. The Pixel 3 also features enhanced security, courtesy of a custom-designed chip, and wireless charging thanks to Qi technology. Here's what you'll love about the latest Google Pixel smartphone.

01
of 10

Super Res Zoom

Pixel 3's super res zoom feature in action.

Google

Super zoom is just one of the Pixel 3's photography features that rely on artificial intelligence instead of a better camera. This feature lets you zoom in on pictures you've already taken without losing quality.

What We Like:

  • You can take pictures from far away, and zoom in, without the result turning into a blurry mess.

What We Don't Like:

  • The Pixel 3 only has a single rear camera. While Super Res Zoom does a really good job, and the tech is interesting, it can't quite match true optical zoom from a dual or triple lens setup.
02
of 10

Wide-angle Selfies

Pixel 3's group selfie feature in action.

Google

The Pixel 3 comes equipped with two front-facing cameras. One of the cameras has a wide angle lens, and the other has a normal field of view, which is how the phone manages to pull off its wide-angle selfie trick. No selfie-stick required.

What We Like:

  • The Pixel 3's wide-angle selfie mode allows you to capture group shots without cutting anyone out of the picture, and without having to hand your phone to a stranger.

What We Don't Like:

  • Selfies. But if you like them, you'll be all manner of happy.
03
of 10

Top Shot

Pixel 3's top shot feature in action.

Google

This feature works a lot like motion photo features that take a short video before and after you snap your picture. Instead of taking a video, it takes a series of still photos and then uses artificial intelligence to automatically find one where everyone is looking at the camera, smiling, and not blinking.

What We Like:

  • No more snapping endless shots in the hopes that everyone will finally behave at the same time. This is also a near implementation of machine learning that saves you the trouble of having to manually sift through each snap.

What We Don't Like:

  • This feature is unlikely to trickle down to owners of older Pixel phones, let alone other Android users.
04
of 10

Night Sight

An animated gif showing how the Pixel 3's night sight mode works.

Google

This is another impressive implementation of artificial intelligence that lets you take pictures in low light without using your flash. The feature relies on machine learning to automatically alter the colors and other aspects of photographs taken in low light to make it seem like they were taken in full daylight.

What We Like:

  • The results aren't perfect, but it's a whole lot better than low light options that require your subjects to sit perfectly still for an unreasonable amount of time.

What We Don't Like:

  • Photos taken with Night Sight can seem a touch unreal, because they are. But if you prefer old-fashioned low light pictures, you can always turn it off.
05
of 10

Native Google Lens

Google Lens working natively on the Pixel 3.

Google

Google Lens is available for a huge swath of Android phones, but the exact implementation varies based on the manufacturer, carrier, age of the phone, and the version of Android. Pixel 3 comes with native Google Lens baked right into the viewfinder, so it can identify objects and provide relevant information in real time with no user input required.

What We Like:

  • The Pixel 3 can handle certain Lens-related tasks, like recognizing phone numbers, right on the device, even if you don't have a reliable data connection.

What We Don't Like:

  • It's unclear when, or if, owners of older handsets will see the new and improved Lens.
06
of 10

Playground

Pixel 3's playground mode in action.

Google

If you harbor fond memories of the dancing hot dog from Snapchat, then you'll probably get a kick out of Playground. This feature taps into Google's AI expertise to intelligently place animated characters into photos and videos in real time, anchoring them to the ground as if they were really there.

What We Like:

  • This is a neat feature to include with the Pixel 3 out of the box, and it works better than most third party augmented reality apps.

What We Don't Like:

  • Playground is a fun toy, but that's really all it is.
07
of 10

Phone Call Screening

A screenshot of Pixel 3's call screening functionality.

Google 

Google flexes its artificial intelligence muscles again with the phone call screening feature on Pixel 3. This feature lets Google Assistant answer the phone for you. You still have some control over what it says, and you can answer the call as normal if you want.

What We Like:

  • No more refusing calls from unknown numbers under the assumption that they are telemarketers. It's almost like having a real assistant to screen your calls.

What We Don't Like:

  • Having to talk to an AI gatekeeper every time we call our Pixel-owning friends could get old really fast.
08
of 10

Pixel Stand

The Pixel 3 connecting to the Pixel Stand

Google 

The Pixel 3 has a soft-touch glass back, and it works with Qi wireless charging stations. If you set a Pixel 3 on the Pixel 3 stand, it activates a mode that mimics Google Home Hub in addition to charging. You can also use any compatible Qi charger if all you want to do is juice up the battery.

What We Like:

  • Giving the Pixel 3 a Google Home Hub mode is a neat trick, even if Amazon did already do it first with their Fire tablet stand.

What We Don't Like:

09
of 10

Titan M Security Chip

Pixel 3's Titan M security chip.

Google

The Titan M is a chip that Google designed specifically for the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and the Pixel Slate. Information from Google is sparse as to the particulars, but it's basically there to improve the security of the Pixel 3.

What We Like:

  • You can't ever have too much security, especially with a mobile device that may contain a lot of sensitive information.

What We Don't Like:

  • Due to a lack of information from Google, it isn't exactly clear what the Titan M does, how it does it, or how it actually makes the Pixel 3 any more secure.
10
of 10

Flip to Shhh

Pixel 3's flip to shhh mode in action.

Google

This is a feature that's been around for a while, but it comes to Google's flagship line for the first time with the Pixel 3. If you need a little peace and quiet, just flip the Pixel 3 over, and it will automatically silence all notifications.

What We Like:

  • This is a welcome addition to the Pixel line, since very similar functionality has already been available in other phones.

What We Don't Like:

  • Nothing, really. Just be careful when you're flipping to shhh, so you don't accidentally end up flipping to scratch the screen.