A 2022 look back at the Pixel 3 postmortem {Video}

The COVID-19 epidemic has made it seem like it has been more than three and a half years since the Pixel 3 series was formally introduced in October 2018. How will the Pixel 3 perform in 2022, when most users are keeping their devices longer than ever before, now that Google has formally discontinued support for the device? Check it out.

Video Pixel 3 postmortem: Unappreciated Pixel? Hardware andamp; Design Software andamp; Performance Camera Battery TL;DR POSTMORTEM: VIDEO PIXEL 3: UNAPPRECIATED PIXEL? Subscribe to 9to5Google on YouTube for more videos

Equipment andamp; Design A throwback to the past

Before the presentation at Made by Google 2018, leak after leak made everything public. Although it has a retro design with aspects from the previous generation, you can see Google growing more assured in their abilities to create smartphones with cute tiny idiosyncratic details here and there.

The Pixel 3 is the Google product that I find to be the most comfortable. It must steal a phrase that our own Kyle Bradshaw invented to describe the hand feel of any Pixel to date because of the softly rounded corners and frosted rear. With a large body and slim profile, it is nearly flawless, but the use of glass ensures that the Pixel 3 will still be reliable and self-assured by the middle of 2022.

I used the Pixel 3 XL as my primary testing device for many Android upgrades and betas from the time it was released until the launch of the Pixel 4 series. In my case, I must say that it has aged extremely gracefully; the display has a few nicks here and there, but overall it is in stunning condition. Even without a case, the only significant wear and tear has been on the frosted rear panel, which has some odd lines from repeatedly moving in and out of my pocket over the past 36 or so months. Of course, this won’t be the case for everyone.

With the release of the Pixel 3, it appeared as though metal Pixels were coming to an end, but 2020 held even more surprises. Although this isn’t a major shift from the Pixel 5s’ bio-resin surface and metal construction, it still has that distinct Google-made phone feel. The curved edges and frosted glass finish are quite comfortable. I’d love to see the frosted glass make another appearance in upcoming Pixel smartphones because it feels so delicate to the touch.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are fundamentally similar, yet they diverge in a crucial area: the display notch. The notch wasn’t really as terrible as some made it out to be. Yes, it’s big, heck, it’s almost offensive, but if you put it in the back of your mind, it’s really not a problem. You also get a separate wide-angle selfie camera, which, despite its flaws, was at least a fascinating addition.

The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED screen without a notch, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch QHD AMOLED screen. Compared to more current models, both screens are still outstanding, but they don’t quite become bright enough. Things are not quite as buttery smooth as in years past at 60Hz and due to the aging internals, but practically all material looks fantastic on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL displays. Undoubtedly, watching videos in landscape mode is frustrating with a large notch. Fortunately, neither of these phones had the blue tinge that plagued the Pixel 2 XL, which was released a year before this pair.

The uneven bezels are a greater issue for me. When I switched back from devices with lower bezels on all sides, they drove me mad, but there is space for a bottom speaker and top speaker, which produces actually excellent audio. That’s significant given that many other premium cellphones at the time still had headphone jacks.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL, the company’s flagship Pixel package, improved upon some of the best design features of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, added an IP68 rating for the first time, and added a few more affable touches to make the pair even more approachable. Although the minimalist style of the preceding Pixels could be criticized, the series’ ardent followers nonetheless adore it.

Performance of software comparable to today’s mid-rangers

The Pixel 3 received its final update in 2022 in the form of Android 12, and the security patch released in February 2022 signals the end of Google’s official support period. If you want to stick with the device over the long haul, you’ll need to explore the world of third-party ROMs. With Android 10, the Pixel 3 was adequately transformed again in my opinion. A dark mode, appropriate gesture navigation, a more intelligent energy saver, a complete UI revamp, plus an additional 50 additional tweaks and improvements, were just a few of the features that were introduced.

Since then, Android 11 and Android 12 have been released. It shares the same fundamental user experience as the more recent Pixels. Theoretically, without the chassis, you could have a Pixel 5-level experience when out and about. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and the 765G compare favorably, making the comparisons between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 5 crucial.

The Pixel 3 will function just as well as the Pixel 5 except from the 90Hz panel and several capabilities that are either specific to the 2020 Google flagship or not yet accessible. Consider for a moment that the Pixel 3 can actually outperform the Pixel 5 in some circumstances. If you have kept your Pixel 3, you are probably feeling a little proud of yourself right now.

That is actually quite significant for those who would like to keep their device a little longer. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are right on the cusp of what a mid-range smartphone in 2022 should and would offer. Former flagship phones are most durable in this area because the daily experience isn’t much diminished with time.

The software experience here is hampered by a variety of other issues, so it isn’t great. First off, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL’s 4GB of onboard RAM provide the biggest performance challenge. Apps will be thrown out of memory more frequently than on any Pixel of the current generation, which can significantly limit multitasking.

Given that the Snapdragon 845 chipset is now getting a touch dated, the gaming performance is excellent. Some of the most difficult 3D games may be played at low graphic settings. This is unquestionably a benefit of a flagship processor and emphasizes the significance of Google’s impending Tensor efforts in the Pixel 6 series and other new handsets.

The speed of the rear fingerprint scanner has not changed from when it was launched. While Android 12 functions rather admirably. Additionally, there is the Active Edge squeeze gesture, which is still excellent and something I hope Google brings back in the future as it looks for a new location for Assistant activation beyond corner swipes and power button presses.

There were an increasing number of reports of Pixel 3 and 3 XL devices being unresponsive or bricking following an arbitrary shutdown in late 2021. These issues have gradually been remedied over time, but because the devices are no longer covered by warranties, any upcoming issues are likely to remain unanswered.

CAMERA Regarding persevering

It’s fun going back to the Pixel 3 camera configuration because, despite its advanced age and constrained single rear lens system, it still performs admirably. Despite this, subsequent Pixels using the identical Sony IMX363 sensor appear to get a tiny bit more out of the same primary sensor, even though this is not immediately apparent.

The Pixel 3 series has always delivered excellent pictures, and considering that it has the same sensor as the Pixel 3a through to the Pixel 5a and even the impending Pixel 6a, you’ll get comparable images. Sure, you don’t have quite as many modes as the newest and greatest. Nevertheless, there are a few minor differences depending on the model you’re using because the tuning is not entirely consistent from device to device.

While the Night Sight low-light feature has seen significant advancements with each successive Pixel version, I have occasionally found the Portrait Mode to be a touch less accurate than its more recent competitors. But after reviewing the photos I’ve shot with this phone since 2018, I’m still impressed and always eager to share the finest of the lot.

The camera UI is more responsive than it was in Android 11 when I updated to Android 12. This device might have been mine, however the prior OS build made it occasionally sluggish, which was a little bothersome while attempting to shoot rapid photographs. Selfies continue to look fantastic, but a dual-camera system with a wide-angle lens in the back would have been more useful for group photos.

The fact that Google has officially discontinued offering unlimited free original quality Google Photos storage for the Pixel 3 series is another unfortunate development that some people may still be unaware of. Anything you kept online prior to January 2022 is still secure, and while using the Storage Saver plan, you get unlimited storage. After all, every cloud has a bright spot.

BATTERY Time can be a harsh mistress.

The Pixel 3 might not be the all-day smartphone you were hoping for at this point in 2022, like most gadgets created by Google. Yes, it had a respectable battery life at launch, but due to an aging internal battery and the lack of adaptive energy boosts offered by Android 11, my Pixel 3 XL frequently needs a late-afternoon top-up to ensure it lasts the entire day.

You can reduce or limit battery degeneration, but you can’t avoid it totally. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL currently struggle with keeping a charge after being charged every day for more than three years. If you do intend to continue with 2018’s best Pixel, a battery replacement is strongly advised.

It’s also crucial to remember that using a USB-C cable will only allow for 18W charge speeds, although wireless charging is a bit more complicated. You can recharge at 10W with the original Pixel Stand and the new second-generation first-party charger, but you can only do so at 5W with other Qi pads.

TL;DR Pure Pixel is underappreciated



The Pixel 3 and 3 XL make for an odd pairing. Although the bathtub notch on the XL model was understandably mocked, both devices were actually quite good overall, as our own Stephen Hall noted in a review he wrote more than three years ago. The fact that the Pixel 3 came after the Pixel 2, which is frequently rated by fans as the best of the lot so far, doesn’t necessarily help.

Heck, we’re sometimes the harshest reviewers of the Pixel series, but as of now in 2022, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL seem to be holding up admirably. In spite of the hardware being fairly standard for a 2018 flagship, relying on the software experience ensures that everything works without much fanfare.

Even though we believe the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are underrated, we regrettably cannot suggest them at this time in early 2022. You’re best off looking at the undervalued Pixel 4a 5G instead, given the annoying lack of RAM and the absence of official upgrades going forward. The Pixel 3 is undoubtedly a quiet, unassuming entry to the series that got a lot right but also a good bit wrong, sandwiched between the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 4.

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