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An In-Depth Look at the Pixel 3: Google’s New Flagship Takes on the iPhone

Brad Moon

On October 9, Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google division held an event in New York, with the new Pixel 3 smartphones taking a starring role. Google has a lot riding on its third-generation flagship smartphones. After a $1.1 billion acquisition of HTC’s Pixel design team last year, and a U.S. marketshare that grew from 1.8% to 2.8% in 2017, Google is determined to continue expanding its presence as a flagship smartphone maker. If the company succeeds, there’s a lot of potential upside for GOOGL stock, including hardware revenue, accessory sales and distribution of Google apps that generate ad revenue.

Did the company hit a home run with the Pixel 3 series? 

Google Pixel 3 Key Specs

Google once again released two smartphones, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The primary difference between the two is size and display. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ OLED display, while the larger model gets a 6.3-inch, QHD, edge-to-edge, QLED display with HDR support — complete with a notch. The Pixel 3 XL also has a correspondingly larger battery (and sticker price), but other than that, the specs are the same:

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  • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 845 CPU with 4GB RAM
  • 64GB or optional 128GB storage
  • 12MP, dual pixel f/1.8 primary camera with dual LED flash, Auto HDR
  • Dual front-facing 8 MP cameras (f/1.8 and f/2.2)
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • Dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP 68 water resistant
  • Titan M security chip
  • Nano-SIM and eSIM support
  • USB-C with optional Qi wireless charging
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back with aluminum frame
  • Available in just black, clearly white and not-pink
  • Runs Android 9 (Pie)
  • 6 months of YouTube premium included
  • Pixel USB-C earbuds included
  • Weighs 5.22 oz (Pixel 3) and 6.49 oz (Pixel 3 XL)

Both smartphones are available for pre-order now.

AI Everywhere…

Source: Google

Google is really leveraging its AI development with its new smartphones. The new Call Screening feature lets you have the AI handle suspected spam calls, transcribing the conversation. But where the AI and machine learning really come into play is with the Pixel 3’s cameras.

A slew of new capabilities have been added including Top Shot (Google’s AI selects the best photos out of a series including before and after you snap the photo), Super Res Zoom (AI-powered telescopic zoom), Night Sight (machine learning takes night shots without a flash), Group Selfie (dual front cameras have a 184% wider field of view than an iPhone XS) and built-in Google Lens (point the camera to identify objects, with suggested actions). 


There is also a clever new wireless charger being released. The Pixel Stand ($79) positions the Pixel 3 upright for charging, using its display for various purposes including photo slideshows, a clock, ambient lighting and a view screen for a Nest Hello video doorbell.

Key Advantages Over Apple’s 2018 iPhones

Despite complaints about the Pixel 3 XL’s prominent notch, Google’s new smartphones will have several advantages when they go up against Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) best.

Call Screening is like nothing Apple offers. While we don’t yet know how well its primary camera compares to that on the iPhone XS Max, based on the Pixel 2 it’s going to be at the very least competitive — and quite possibly superior. And there’s no question that the Pixel 3’s dual forward facing “selfie” cams will produce better results than what any iPhone offers. Android 9 versus iOS 12 and Siri versus Google Assistant? There’s no winner in this war. It really comes down to preference and investment in a platform. At this point, it’s going to be pretty tough for Google to convert iPhone fans. Instead the Pixel 3 is more likely to win customers away from other Android manufacturers like Samsung

The biggest advantage Google’s new smartphones have over what Apple released is price, but with a qualifier. The iPhone XS and XS Max start at $999 and $1099, respectively. With the Pixel 3 at $749 and the Pixel 3 XL at $899, this gives Google a significant advantage in pricing. Throwing a wrench in the works, though, is the iPhone XR, which comes out in just a few weeks. It lands between the Pixel phones in size, has all the features of the iPhone XS and costs just $749…

We’ll have to wait until the Pixel 3 series starts shipping to get a good idea of whether Google has a hit on its hands. But based on specs, design and features, it seems likely the Pixel 3 should help the company continue to slowly but surely carve itself a chunk of the smartphone market.

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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