Phone Comparisons: Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel 3

Introduction

Google just announced two new smartphones - the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. In this comparison we will only look at the Pixel 3 and how it stacks up to the Pixel 2. Pixel phones offer the “pure vanilla” version of the Android OS – currently 9.0 affectionately called Pie – buyers do not expect all of the software “bells and whistles” we have come to expect from Samsung, LG, HTC, and others. They also get their updates faster than anybody else and they will get new updates each year through October 2021, although they could receive them longer. They have kept the OLED display, but increased its size and introduced smaller bezels. Google changed its aspect ratio to 18:9 for a more modern look. It comes in Just Black, Clearly White, and a new color, Not Pink. There was a substantial price increase from $650 for the Pixel 2 to $800 for the Pixel 3 – it seems like a huge increase over what you are getting.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, although a year apart, do have many common features. They are almost identical in size and weight. They both use the OLED technology for their displays and both still use the FHD+ resolution. Both pack 4GB of RAM and 64GB of non-expandable, although both offer a 128GB model. A Snapdragon processor and an Adreno GPU is used in both models, but a year apart from each other. The Pixel 2 and the Pixel 3 both use a 12-megapixel single main camera, but the Pixel 3 also adds dual front-facing cameras (FFC) – opposite what most manufacturers are doing. The batteries are both non-removable and offer a fast charge, but only the Pixel 3 has wireless charging. Both have a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the usual suspects – NFC, Bluetooth v5.0, USB 3.1 Type-C, but do not have a 3.5mm headphone jacket. They both have stereo speakers, Active Edges, Google Lens, Google Assistant, Google Photo Storage, Dust and Water Resistance – IP67 on the Pixel 2 and IP68 on the Pixel 3. These two are similar in looks, but the top and bottom bezels are smaller on the new Pixel 3.

Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two smartphones stack up against each other. After that, we will look at each mobile offering in more detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on overall specs, as well as the execution of design and functions.

Specifications

Google Pixel 2

Outwardly the Pixel 2 it may look somewhat dated, but inside it uses the best processor/GPU that was available at the time. It uses the AMOLED display technology, but only an FHD+ resolution. Active Edge allows you to squeeze the sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant. Google Lens helps identify details from photos. However, with the smaller FHD display, pricing is somewhat high with a standard 64GB model costing you about $650, although the price should be dropping with the Pixel 3 coming out. You can buy them unlocked to work on any major U.S. carrier, but Verizon is the exclusive dealer of the Pixel 2 phones.

The Google Pixel 2 has been around long enough for us to know that it sports a 5-inch AMOLED display. It has only an FHD+ resolution of 1960 x 1080 pixels and a density of 441 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Google did not give the Pixel 2 the newer ratio display of 18:9, but decided to keep it at 16:9 and include fairly large bezels, especially at the top and bottom. Google did include the Always-On feature that makes it much easier for the user to check on notifications without having to turn-on the phone. The Pixel 2 is powered by a non-removable 2,700mAh capacity battery, and although small, should keep you powered throughout the day. Fast charging with a cord is available when you need to charge the battery.

The Pixel 2 has all the right technology inside – the Snapdragon 835, the Adreno 540 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. The SD835 is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.35GHz, but was the best that Google could use at the time. The Adreno 540 GPU is powerful enough to handle any graphics you can throw its way. Like the Pixel 3, the Pixel 2 packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of non-expandable memory. It too, has a 4GB/128GB model that you may want to consider since there is no way to expand the memory.

Early Google Nexus smartphones never made a concentrated effort in the camera area, but Google soon realized that if they were going to ask Samsung/Apple/LG prices for their new Pixel devices they were going to up their photo taking capability. Google used a single 12-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/1.8, added OIS and EIS for stability, laser and PDAF for a fast and sharp focus, and a dual LED flash to come up with the number one rated camera when it came out. It uses an 8-megapixel sensor for the front-facing camera (FFC) with fixed focus and an aperture of f/2.4 – it gives a decent selfie or video.

The Pixel 2 has an excellent, but a 2017 processor, only an FHD+ display resolution, no expandable memory, no 3.5mm headphone jack, and the large bezels and 16:9 aspect ratio that makes the Pixel 2 look dated with wasted display area. It did have the most highly rated camera when it came out, but it has slowly fallen from the top. It has Googles’ Camera Lens and Active Edge features that have a lot of potential but are not too useful on the Pixel 2. The device has no Hi-Res Audio but it does provide stereo speakers on the front. Google added IP67 water resistance, but you will have to wait until the Pixel 3 to get IP68 rating. The Pixel series most attractive point is for users that like the pure vanilla version of Android and they will receive the fastest Android updates. The Pixel 2 measures 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. The Pixel 2 will cost about $650 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.

Google Pixel 3

The Pixel 3 is a nice looking smartphone that uses the newer 18:9 aspect ratio but it still looks a little dated with its larger bezels – but at least there is no notch. Outwardly it may look somewhat dated, but inside the Pixel 3 uses the 2018 go-to processor/Adreno GPU. Google also introduced a dual FFC, although we are not sure how necessary that feature will prove to be. The Pixel 3 phones use an all glass build with a metal strap that holds it together and this allowed Google to include wireless charging. Users can ‘squeeze’ the Active Edge sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant while Google Lens can identify details from photos, such as historic landmarks or flowers – they also included a new Lens Suggestion mode for Google Lens. The Pixel 3 does have the newest processor, however, with the smaller display and only FHD+ resolution, pricing is somewhat high with a standard 64GB model that offers no expansion, costing you $800. You can buy it unlocked to work on any major U.S. carrier, but Verizon is still the exclusive dealer of the Pixel 3 phones.

On the new Pixel 3, Google did increase the display size from 5-inch to 5.5-inches and kept the POLED display – both great moves – but Google still kept the FHD+ resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and 443 PPI. The display of the Pixel 3 includes the Always-On feature that makes it easier for the user to spot-check their notifications without turning on the device – saving battery life. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the front of the phone, including the display. Google did increase the battery size from a 2,700mAh to a 2,915mAh capacity and added quick wireless charging now that the Pixel 3 has Gorilla Glass 5 covering its back.

Google went to the same manufacturer, Qualcomm, for their processors for both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3. The Pixel 3 uses the newest Snapdragon 845 and an Adreno 630 GPU – this is the same processor used on most 2018 flagship phones. The SD845 is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz that can fly smoothly through any task and the Adreno 630 is a powerful graphics processor capable of handling the toughest of movie or gaming graphics. The Pixel 3 packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of non-expandable memory, although a 4GB/128GB version is also available.

Google Nexus models took subpar photos, yet Google never seemed to care. That attitude shifted when the Nexus name was changed to Pixel. It all started with the Pixel 2 and this continues with the Pixel 3. Now the Pixel 3’s hardware did not change too much – it still uses the 12.2-megapixel sensor with the f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and laser and PDAF, dual LED flash, and auto HDR. The FFC is a dual camera setup that features auto-HDR – there are two 8-megapixels sensors – one is a wide angle with PDAF and an f/1.8 aperture and the second sensor is an ultra-wide angle with an f/2.2 aperture and no autofocus.

The new Google Pixel 3 has the best processor out in 2018, a slightly larger display, and a dual front-facing camera. The Pixel 3 has the newer 18:9  aspect ratio for a slightly narrower and taller look. It’s now made from Gorilla Glass 5, front/back, allowing Google to add wireless charging. The camera hardware is very similar to the Pixel 2, but better software and features make it a better experience. It has an improved Google Camera Lens and Active Edge still has a lot of potential but are still not very useful on the Pixel 3. The device has no 3.5mm headphone jack and no Hi-Res Audio but it does provide stereo speakers on the front. Google upped the water and dust resistance to IP68 on the Pixel 3. The Pixel series most attractive feature is for users that like the pure vanilla version of Android. They will receive the fastest Android updates. The Pixel 3 measures 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm and weighs in at 148 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink. The Pixel 3 will cost about $800 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.

...And The Winner Is...

The Final Word

I am showing the Google Pixel 3 because it does have superior technology when compared Pixel 2, but, and that is a big but, the price difference of $150 is a big consideration because the increase in technology over the Google Pixel 2 may be negligible to most people. The Pixel 3 does have Photobooth, Top Shot, Super Rez Zoom, Wide Angle Selfies, Motion AutoFocus, improved Google Lens, Titan M, and Wireless Charging.

The Pixel 2 has going for it a cheaper price, a quality camera, and a guaranteed upgrade to Android 9 Pie. If you need a good, solid smartphone, the Pixel 2 will make you very happy and if discounting continues you will get a very good buy. If you need the latest and greatest the Google is offering, then the Pixel 3 is the pick of these two devices.

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About the Author
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Cory McNutt

Senior Staff Writer
Cory has written for Androidheadlines since 2013 and is a Senior Writer for the site. Cory has a background in Accounting and Finance and worked for the FBI in the past. From there he pursued his Masters in English Literature. Cory loves Android and Google related technology and specializes in Smartphone Comparisons on our site. Contact him at [email protected]
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