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Smart and Pragmatic

Google's Pixel 3 XL is a software marvel, and the hardware does not take a backseat either.

A much-awaited smartphone, Google's Pixel 3 XL is a software marvel, and the hardware does not take a backseat either. This one does not come with a fancy in-display fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, triple/quad-core cameras or an insane spec sheet, but it continues to do what it has mastered and then some more.

To start with, it looks identical to last year's Pixel 2 XL with a two-tone rear but this time uses glass with a metallic finish to support wireless charging. Google has also managed to squeeze in a bigger screen - a 6.3-inch OLED display with a notch - without making the phone bigger. The display feels rich with bright colours, and unlike last year, we did not experience any colour shift or screen burn-in. Carried forward from the 2 XL is Active Edge, where squeezing the bottom half of the phone activates Assistant, which I often used for setting alarms, Web browsing, app launching and more. Plus, checking notifications by swiping down the fingerprint scanner, pressing the power button twice to launch the camera and double-twisting the phone in the camera app to switch between the rear and the front camera are some of the neat gestures that make 3 XL intuitive to use.

The phone has a single 12.2 MP rear camera even though triple and quad cameras are fast becoming the norm. However, using high-end software and AI capabilities, the 3 XL rear cam manages to take impressive images in normal and portrait modes. HDR+ is turned on by default that captures eight frames and merges them. The notch at the front houses two cameras, a normal one and an 8 MP wide-angle one. The latter captures great group and portrait selfies while the skin-smoothing feature clears blemishes and marks. The improvised Google Lens is integrated, quickly identifies objects, and fetches more information about them as well as similar results.

Running the latest Android Pie OS, the user interface feels a little different, and I took some time to get used to it. Also, moved to the bottom of the home screen, the quick search bar is convenient to access. The performance is top-notch without any lag or heating issue. The 3 XL is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and comes with 4 GB of RAM. The 3,430 mAh battery supported quick charging and lasted over a day with above-average use. The adaptive battery was turned on by default and uses machine learning to limit background battery usage for infrequently used apps.