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Google unveils its new flagship phone

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Senior Writer

Google unveiled the newest iterations of its Pixel phones, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, at an event in lower Manhattan on Tuesday.

Google unveiled its new flagship phone at an event on Tuesday. Photo: Ethan Wolff-Mann

In contrast to the other Android-equipped offerings on the market, the Pixel is seen as a step between Apple’s iOS and other flagship phones from competitors like Samsung. The Pixel 3 underscores this position even further with both the 6.3-inch 3 XL and the standard 5.5-inch 3.

Not only do these phones run the purest Android, devoid of third-party modifications as Google steers both the hardware and software completely, but the design language of the new phone mimics the iPhone X series, with a larger display that wraps around the front-facing camera.

Two big things are changing

Phones have plateaued somewhat in terms of their hardware, but two things are changing. Like the iPhone, the new Pixel screens are bigger, expanding to the edges, enabling it to be smaller with the same size screen, and the cameras are being continually improved.  

Google’s first two Pixels featured powerful cameras that led its appeal among consumers as much as the full native Google suite of apps. The new Pixel 3 piggybacks on this by offering a second front-facing camera that Google says will replace the selfie-stick, and better low light photography, zoom, depth of field customization, automatic photo-booth features — photo is taken with each facial expression — and the ability to change the timing in case someone blinked. This echoes some of what Apple announced with the new iPhones and ushers in the possibility that phones are in a post-megapixel landscape. Machine learning, new features, and more are all far more relevant.

A new trick from Google Assistant

In addition to physical design updates, the phone added a few more features that are designed to work in tandem with the new Android operating system 9.0.

With its access to your email, calendar, entertainment, and suite of Nest and Home devices, Google stands in a key position to attack the competition in the home device wars against Apple, Amazon, and now Facebook, which just launched a home device, Portal. This is where the new innovations have concentrated, as Google and its ilk focus on features and possibilities that can be generated from its artificial intelligence, machine learning, and sheer processing power.

Google showed off one especially impressive feature that its Assistant app can perform: Call screening, which can screen a phone call for you if you don’t recognize a number. As a telemarketer talks to the phone, a live transcript pops up that you can follow along and answer if you want to.

More human-phone interaction will be possible, as Google plans to roll out its Assistant technology city by city over the next few months, allowing people to make reservations by phone without ever having to chat with anyone.

The phones will come black, silver, and pink and they’ll be available starting at $799 for pre-order through Verizon, Project Fi, and Google Play Store, coming out on October 18th.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, retail, personal finance, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.