The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a don’t feature RCS messaging on T-Mobile

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL showing front of the phone

Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging has been touted as the successor to standard text messages, but you’ll have to go without it if you’ve got a Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a on T-Mobile.

Responding to someone on Twitter, T-Mobile bluntly said “no” when asked about RCS support for the new Pixel phones. Compounding matters, there aren’t any Pixel phones on T-Mobile’s list of phones that support RCS.

When Android Authority reached out to T-Mobile for clarification, the carrier said the following:

For wireless provider grade performance, T-Mobile’s advanced messaging RCS capabilities are built into the core of the network rather than individual apps or devices, and the Pixels currently do not support this network-level authentication.

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Keep in mind that T-Mobile adopted the RCS Universal Profile, the same one that Verizon and Sprint also adopted. Because Pixel phones support RCS messaging on Verizon, it makes us wonder whether T-Mobile is doing something on the back-end to limit access.

There’s always a chance that future updates will enable RCS for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a on T-Mobile. For now, RCS on T-Mobile remains limited to Samsung Galaxy S phones dating back to the Galaxy S7 and excluding the newer Galaxy S10 phones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and the OnePlus 6T.

NEXT: What’s the point of the Google Pixel 3a?

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

2019 photography showdown: Huawei P30 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Google Pixel 3

It’s tough to go wrong with a flagship smartphone camera these days, but if you’re after the crème de la crème, just a handful of names stand out. The Google Pixel 3 and its machine learning-enhanced camera continues to be the tech enthusiasts goto handset for consistently great pictures. Likewise, recent Huawei handsets have built a solid photography reputation for the company, The new P30 Pro takes low light and zoom capabilities another step further. Samsung also scores consistently well in all photography tests and the Galaxy S10 remains a great shout if you love taking pictures.

But which one is the best? That’s what we’re here to find out with today’s comprehensive shootout. We’re going to look at everything from landscape and macro shots, to HDR, low light, and zoom capabilities. Images have been compressed and cropped in the article for the sake of bandwidth, but you can find uncompressed images in this Google Drive folder. I hope your bandwidth is ready for all these pictures.

Detail, exposure, and color

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample of a street and houses
Google Pixel 3 camera sample of a street and houses
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample of a street and houses

This first picture gives a good overview of how these cameras handle a scene with a range of details and colors. At 10MP, 12MP, and 12MP respectively and minimal noise in this scene, all three cameras offer a very similar level of detail. None of them present any major issues with post-processing, such as oversharpening, or exposure either.

The biggest difference here is color saturation and white balance. The Huawei P30 Pro takes on a slightly warmer tint with more natural, subdued colors on this overcast day. The Pixel 3 has a more neutral white balance but boosts colors such that the clouds take on a blue hue. Nice looking but not strictly true to the scene. The Samsung Galaxy S10 offers a similar white balance and a small boost to color that’s closest to how the scene actually looks.

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample of a post box
Google Pixel 3 camera sample of a post box
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample of a post box

Roles reverse in this second snap. Here the Huawei P30 Pro has the better color and white balance accuracy. Although it verges on overexposing the window. The Galaxy S10 attempts to make the colors pop a little too much, erasing subtle highlights and details from the post box and over-pinkening the brickwork. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 is a tad darker than its rivals, reducing the pop of the shadow.

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample flower close up
Google Pixel 3 camera sample flower close up
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample flower close up

This indoor flower example highlights this trend further. The P30 Pro is notably more exposed, compensating for darkness on the left by blowing out the light on the right. The result is a slightly over brightened subject. The Pixel 3 is the polar opposite, darkening the flowers too much in an attempt to keep the highlights in check. The Galaxy S10 wins in terms of exposure and color vibrancy. The flowers are perfectly exposed and the phone’s auto-HDR effect (which doesn’t seem to switch off regardless of the toggle) balances out the dark and bright backgrounds perfectly. You can even see the blue of the sky.

Huawei P30 Pro painting camera sample
Google Pixel 3 painting camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 painting camera sample

Let’s return the focus to colors for a moment. Again the P30 Pro is subtly warmer than the other two. I quite like the look, but it’s not entirely accurate. The Pixel 3 ramps up the colors, particularly the yellows, and darkens the blacks a little too far. It pops, but isn’t very accurate. The Galaxy S10 again clocks in the more balanced color presentation.

As expected, all three of these cameras produce excellent pictures in good lighting.

This last general comparison shows off the wide-angle lenses on the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10. The Pixel 3 lacks this shooting option. The S10 has a wider lens to fit more in the scene and again its colors pop more than the P30. However, the P30 boosts the highlights to produce a more textured look on the grass and trees. Both are pretty good but suffer from a lack of detail and blurring at the edges of the lens.

Samsung Galaxy S10 wide angle Huawei P30 Pro wide angle Samsung Galaxy S10 wide angle

Huawei P30 Pro wide angle

Generally speaking, the Huawei P30 Pro produces a warmer white balance and more subdued colors. The handset also prefers a slightly brighter exposure than its rivals. The Pixel 3 is almost the opposite, often producing darker looking pictures with a lot more color saturation. The Samsung Galaxy S10 is somewhere in between, although occasionally boosts colors even more than the Pixel 3.

All three are clearly very capable shooters, but there are key differences between their main sensors and image processing algorithms.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is a helpful tool for balancing exposure in tough shooting environments. These often include scenes with a bright light source behind the subject or low light scenes with a single light source. Good HDR improves over and underexposure when compared to regular photographs.

This shot below might not look tricky because all the results are surprisingly good. But without HDR on, the foreground cactus looks completely black or the window becomes blown out.

Huawei P30 Pro cactus HDR camera sample
Google Pixel 3 cactus HDR camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 cactus HDR sample photo

The Huawei P30 Pro provides a good all-round HDR look. The background overexposure is kept to a minimum, while the foreground is lit up enough to ensure that all the small details are discernable. Galaxy S10 is even better in this regard, further reducing the overexposure in the clouds while maintaining foreground balance.

The Pixel 3 is a little different. The background is more overexposed than its competitors and the foreground a little darker. However, the phone has done a better job than the other two at enhancing the details and lighting between the cactus spines and the body. The color of the plant pot is also more pronounced. Perhaps the best way to describe this is that the Pixel 3’s HDR is more subject-focused, while the other two are frame focused. Unfortunately, the Pixel 3 takes longer to snap HDR shots than its rivals.

Low-light performance

Low-light performance and HDR often go hand in hand, as is the case when shooting in low light with the Google Pixel 3. The phone takes a few seconds to gather multiple exposures and stitch them together for a brighter, less noisy picture. Although as you can see in the example below, the result is still rather noisy, a little dark, and color saturation is dialed up a notch too far.

Huawei P30 Pro low light camera sample
Google Pixel 3 low light camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 low light camera sample

The Samsung Galaxy S10 produces a similarly passable result, but there are clear issues. The image is still a little noisy, the phone struggles to focus in the dark, and the colors are a little washed out. The obvious winner in this example is the Huawei P30 Pro. The enhanced low-light capabilities of its new SuperSpectrum sensor produces results that are low in noise and offer well-balanced colors and dynamic range. The focus is also spot-on, likely thanks to the time-of-flight sensor.

In this next example, we turn the lights off and switch to the phones’ various Night Mode options. Put bluntly, the Samsung Galaxy S10’s night mode is not in the same league as the technology offered by Huawei and Google. It’s overly noisy and focusing took too many retries to count. Samsung’s implementation is fine in better lighting conditions, but it can’t handle ultra-dark environments as well as its competitors.

The Galaxy S10’s low light capabilities fall well short of other flagships.

Huawei P30 Pro Night Mode camera sample
Google Pixel 3 Night Mode camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 Night Mode camera sample

The Google Pixel 3 does a phenomenal job by comparison, capturing plenty of detail and color. If there’s one drawback it’s that the result is still too dark and noisy in the shadows. Furthermore, the white balance is a bit too cool.

There isn’t a huge amount of difference between toggling Night mode on and off with the P30 Pro, that’s just how good the new sensor is in ultra-low light. Although using it captures a bit more light and reduces the red tint to the color balance. Huawei’s Night mode captures even more light than Google’s, resulting in very low noise. However, detail capture isn’t perfect and the image is a tad little too yellow. You can fix this in post-processing for a great result, but it’s a shame Huawei can’t get this right out of the box.

Zooming in

With a 5x telescopic lens dedicated to zooming, the specs heavily suggest that the Huawei P30 Pro is going to come out on top in any zoom test. However, the Samsung Galaxy S10 offers a 2x telephoto lens and Google touts its own Super Res Zoom technology too. So let’s find out just what level of decent zoom quality is achievable on each handset.

Our first example is a picture of text in a book taken in so-so lighting conditions. At 2x, the Huawei P30 Pro’s Hybrid Zoom technology makes out the text well enough but produces a somewhat soft result. By contrast, the Pixel 3’s zoom algorithm dials up the sharpening filter, which introduces artifacts in the book edge. The text is legible, but the image isn’t pretty. The Samsung Galaxy S10 provides by far the greatest clarity and sharpness at 2x. There’s a little bit of noise in the darker areas, but it’s hands-down the winner.

Huawei P30 Pro 2x zoom crop camera sample
Google Pixel 3 2x zoom crop camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 book 2x crop sample photo Huawei P30 Pro 3x crop sample photo
Google Pixel 3 3x crop sample photo
Samsung Galaxy S10 shed 3x crop sample photo

The Pixel 3 begins to deteriorate at a 3x zoom. White balance has shifted well into the reds in the above example and the denoise and sharpening algorithms produce a muddy painted look. Overall, detail capture is very poor even in great light. The Galaxy S10 and P30 Pro are vastly superior and a tough to tell apart. The P30 Pro pulls slightly ahead on texture detail, as seen in the wood around the window and the branches on the roof. This is due to the phone pulling data from its 5x zoom camera and stitching that together with the main sensor’s Hybrid Zoom.

Huawei P30 Pro 5x zoom crop camera sample
Google Pixel 3 5x zoom crop camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 5x zoom crop camera sample

The Huawei P30 Pro pulls far ahead at 5x, where the periscope camera kicks in. Details, white balance, and exposure are all exceptional. The Galaxy S10 holds up OK at 5X, although we can clearly see blurring and lack of details at this long range. I don’t even think I need to mention the Google Pixel 3’s capabilities at 5x. They’re simply non-existent.

In summary, the Galaxy S10 is best when zooming to just 2x. Beyond 2x, the Huawei P30 Pro is the clear winner and it’s lead greatly increases as you up the zoom factor. I should also mention that the P30 Pro’s 40MP main camera produces better results than its 10MP zoom at 2x. It’s often worth shooting in this mode if you intend to crop in.

The Galaxy S10 offers a decent zoom, but Huawei’s 5x periscope camera takes the crown.

Bokeh blur (portrait mode)

Bokeh blur, or portrait mode, has become a staple of the smartphone photography experience. These three handsets offer unique ways to calculate the necessary depth map and edge information to add in software bokeh. The Huawei P30 Pro offers a dedicated time-of-flight (TOF) sensor that physically measures distance using infrared light. Meanwhile, Google relies on a combination of multiple-image, object/face detection, and sharpness to gather data from normal photos.

Huawei P30 Pro bokeh blur camera sample
Google Pixel 3 bokeh blur camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 bokeh blur camera sample

With solid objects, all three cameras do a pretty decent job at detecting edges. The quality of the blur is nice on all the handsets too. Although Google’s is perhaps overly strong and dramatic, with a very sharp cutoff between the foreground and background. This produces some harsh edges and a few errors along the wooden table edge and at the back of the skull.

The P30 Pro and Galaxy S10 do a better job at gradually blending in and out of focus, as we can see small amounts of bokeh creep in at the foreground edges. Their results are certainly more realistic. However, both do seem to encounter an error at the top of the skull.

Huawei P30 Pro glass bokeh camera sample
Google Pixel 3 glass bokeh camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 glass bokeh camera sample

Edge detection errors are more pronounced in this second shot due to the transparent glass. This type of issue persists with hair in portraits too. Note that the Huawei P30 Pro blurs the foreground on the upper left side of the bulb. Likewise, the Pixel 3 struggles near the top of the bulb and we can see sharp edges along the sides as well. The Galaxy S10 is excellent around the bulb but seems to have confused the background picture frame with the foreground. Sadly, all three cameras have clear detection issues, although you often have to pixel peep to find them.

Despite Google’s good level of detection, you can’t go back and change the focal point or adjust the amount of blur once you’ve hit the shutter. Both Huawei and Samsung allow for this, and also offer a range of additional effects. Huawei’s bokeh is the most pleasing to look at, as its strength realistically increases further into the background. The P30 Pro’s ToF sensor also detects edges much more consistently and at greater shooting distance than the Pixel 3 and Galaxy S10.

Backs of the Huawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3, and Samsung Galaxy S10

The verdict

Clearly, all three of these flagship smartphones are very capable shooters. I don’t have any major qualms about the image quality provided by any of these smartphones, although each still has its own distinct set of pros and cons.

The Google Pixel 3 aims for consistency and simplicity. Quickly point and shoot and you’re guaranteed a decent, if not always excellent picture virtually every time in nearly any shooting environment. There’s minimal messing about with settings and lens toggles, and if you need a small zoom, bokeh, or to shoot in low light, the Pixel 3 can handle it. The trade-off is a lack of flexibility compared to its multi-camera rivals.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is more capable in terms of zoom and wide-angle shots than the Pixel 3, yet still clearly offers a phone-optimized camera experience. The handset also has probably the best HDR implementation out of any phone I’ve used so far. Color saturation can sometimes be overdone, but this isn’t a bad thing if the picture’s destination is social media. The phone’s tradeoff is that the S10’s low light capabilities are notably behind the curve.

Pick the Pixel 3 for consistency, the P30 Pro for flexibility, or the S10 for something in between.

This leaves us with the Huawei P30 Pro – by far the most flexible shooter out of the three. It offers superior zoom, low light, wide-angle, bokeh, and even a high-resolution shooting option that we haven’t touched on here. Better still, the oversharpening and heavy post-processing from last year’s P20 Pro is a thing of the past. The only drawback is that its white balance regularly shifts too warm and it can tend towards overexposure in well-lit scenes. But this isn’t a problem if you plan to edit most of your pictures.

In summary, pick the Google Pixel 3 if you’re after a consistent, simple smartphone camera. The Galaxy S10 is excellent if you want a bit more flexibility without an overload of options. Finally, the Huawei P30 Pro is simply fantastic if you’re an adventurous photographer happy to line-up the perfect shot and make the odd crop or adjustment in post.

Evidence strongly suggests Sprint will carry Google Pixel phones soon

An anonymous tipster sent a leaked image to Android Police that appears to include details for a Google Pixel display setup to be erected in a Sprint store.

The image, which you can see below, lists out various parts for what appears to be three Pixel-related in-store displays. One of the displays is clearly labeled as the Google Pixel 3 XL, which makes it pretty clear that this Sprint store will, at the very least, carry the Pixel 3 XL at some point in the future.

If one Sprint store carries the Pixel 3 XL, we can only assume they all will. Check out the image below:

Android Police

The first two sections of the image are labeled “Google B4” and “Google S4.” While those names could mean anything, they line up very well with the codenames for the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL, which are “bonito” and “sargo” respectively.

Editor’s Pick

Each category also has a “Type-C Sensor” attached to it, which could reference the charging cable that connects to an in-display smartphone in carrier stores (the one that if unplugged makes a very loud noise to deter theft). That’s pure speculation, but it would make a lot of sense, especially when you consider the pedestal, fact tag, and other items on these lists.

Either way, this photo is very strong evidence that Sprint will sell at least one Google Pixel smartphone in the very near future. This would mean that Pixel devices would be available from at least three of the Big Four carriers in the U.S., as T-Mobile is also rumored to carry the Pixel 3a and Verizon has been the exclusive carrier for every Pixel device thus far.

What do you think? Would you be more apt to buy a Pixel smartphone if you could get one from a carrier that isn’t Big Red? Let us know in the comments.

NEXT: T-Mobile-Sprint merger: Everything you need to know

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Deal: Google slashes $200 off unlocked Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are top-of-the-line smartphones, featuring terrific cameras, incredibly fast software updates, and a bevy of exclusive features.

However, they are also quite expensive, starting at $799 for the lowest-end model.

Today though, there’s a Google Pixel 3 deal over at the Google Store that gets you an unlocked Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL for $200 off. You can pick your model, your color, and your storage capacity, and whatever price you come to will have $200 lopped off the top.

It’s nice when things are straightforward like this. No trade-ins, no carrier contracts, no in-store exclusives: just $200 saved.

Editor’s Pick

If you do want to buy a Pixel 3 for a carrier, you can do that too through the Google Store. Available carriers are Verizon and Google’s own Google Fi. The $200 savings applies to those devices, too.

But if you ask us, unlocked is the way to go, so you can choose to move to whichever carrier you like whenever the mood suits you. However, the options are there if you want them.

If even after saving $200 your bank account isn’t liking the expenditure, you can always get zero-percent financing through Google, which starts as low as $24.96 per month for 24 months.

Click the button below to get started with this Google Pixel 3 deal!

These are the best Android phones for power users

A photo of a man using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, one of the best phones for power users.

Smartphones are incredibly useful tools no matter which way you look at them, packing plenty of features into a compact form factor. But what if you specifically need a device for productivity purposes? Or maybe you need a Swiss Army Knife that offers a feature for every eventuality?

There are plenty of Android phones for power users out there, so here are the devices you should be adding to your wishlist.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Experience Homescreen

Our 2018 Best of Android smartphone of the year is also one of the best Android phones for power users too, and there are plenty of reasons why.

The integrated S-Pen stylus enables some nifty functionality, such as controlling your presentations (if your phone is connected to an external screen) and jotting down notes. The former is a pretty handy use-case too, reducing the need to lug your laptop to work for that pitch meeting.

Editor’s Pick

The Galaxy Note 9 also offers a 4,000mAh battery that should give you plenty of juice for the day (with some to spare). It also marks the biggest battery in the Note range yet, while trouncing the Galaxy S9 Plus.

Core specs are cutting-edge too, offering a Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 512GB (!) of expandable storage, and a 6.4-inch 1440p OLED screen. Toss in IP68 water resistance, a headphone jack, and wireless charging, and you’ve got one of the best flagships of the year. Just make sure you look around for a good deal, because the device starts at $999.


Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro took an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach, cramming almost every imaginable feature into its frame (save for a 3.5mm port). The biggest highlights are the triple rear camera setup (ultra wide, normal, telephoto), reverse wireless charging, and an in-display fingerprint sensor, but it also packs a few more useful features.

The 4,200mAh battery is probably the largest you’ll find in a mainstream flagship phone today, giving you a day and a half to two days of usage. But it also packs the fastest charging you’ll see, period, going from zero to 70 percent in just 30 minutes. So if you over-slept or simply don’t have time to fully charge your phone, it’ll work particularly well.

The biggest downside is that the phone ordinarily starts at 1,049 euros (~$1,217), making it $200 more expensive than Samsung’s flagship phablet. The lack of a headphone jack is also disappointing, but it’s tough to argue that you aren’t getting one of the better phones for power users and productivity in general.


Google Pixel 3

Google’s latest phone doesn’t have the biggest battery, the most storage, or the most cameras, but it has one massive advantage over Huawei and Samsung’s phones. Yep, you’ll be getting stock Android as well as the latest and greatest updates.

Read: Here are the best smartphones running stock Android

Even if you don’t care for pure Android, it’s tough to argue with Google’s commitment to feature and security updates. The company generally commits to two years of feature updates, and three years of security patches. The latter should provide for some peace of mind if you need a (figuratively) bullet-proof phone in your line of work.

But the Pixel 3 series also stands out thanks to its camera experience, offering a 12MP single rear camera and a dual-camera pairing up front. The Mountain View company’s photography efforts also earned it a gong in our best of Android awards.


OnePlus 6T

OyxgenOS Android Skin

OnePlus had a stellar 2018, and this is in large part due to the excellent critical and commercial reception to the OnePlus 6T. The phone definitely makes a few compromises compared to the more expensive devices on the list, but it’s tough to argue against its inclusion nonetheless.

The OnePlus 6T offers a speedy Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB to 8GB of RAM, and 128GB to 256GB of storage. This puts it on similar footing to the OnePlus 6, but the brand has also tossed in an in-display fingerprint sensor and a 3,700mAh battery (compared to the older phone’s 3,300mAh pack). 

But one of the best things about the phone is its OxygenOS skin, offering a feature-filled yet lightweight take on Android. Toss in the company’s commitment to updates and the developer community, and you’ve got another phone worth adding to the list.


BlackBerry Key2

blackberry key2 held in hand

Was there ever any doubt that the BlackBerry Key2 would make the list? TCL’s 2018 device cracks a nod based purely on the fact that it has a QWERTY keypad — a rarity in this day and age. Sure, virtual keyboards are often faster for many people, but the ability to assign apps to specific keys is pretty smart.

The phone also has a dedicated shortcut key (be it for the camera shutter, Play Music or Google Assistant), LG-style system profiles that change your settings depending on location, and a 3,500mAh battery that keeps on chugging. In fact, reviewers Jimmy Westenberg and David Imel both said they averaged between five and seven hours of screen-on time, while Jimmy said he’d regularly end the day with 40 percent capacity remaining.

Now if you consider a power user to be someone who needs the fastest, the Blackberry Key2 obviously doesn’t hold its own as well in this department. The addition of a mid-weight Snapdragon 660 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB to 128GB of expandable storage makes for a big improvement over the KeyOne‘s budget specs. But it’s far from a performance beast. Still, if your definition of a power user is someone who lives on his or her phone and needs it to fuel their productivity, the Key2 is hard to beat. 


Do you know of any other great phones for power users? Give us your picks in the comments! 

Deal: Buy the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL from Target, get a $300 gift card

Google Pixel 3 XL deal Target

For a limited time, buying the Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL from Target nets you a $300 Target gift card. The promotion is similar to the deals that Verizon and Best Buy currently offer on the two Pixel 3 smartphones.

New and current Verizon subscribers are eligible for the $300 Target gift card. They must buy either Pixel 3 phone with device financing and have until the end of Saturday, February 16 to take advantage of the promotion.

Also, Target doesn’t offer the Clearly White or 128GB models. Lastly, those interested in the deal must visit a Target store — you can pick up the Pixel 3 online, but you won’t get the gift card.

Editor’s Pick

The phones themselves aren’t discounted, but it’s hard to say no to a $300 gift card when you’re getting an excellent device in return. To quickly recap, the Pixel 3 features a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, industry-leading 12 megapixel camera, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 2,915mAh battery, and Android 9 Pie.

The Pixel 3 XL is mostly the same phone, save for the larger 6.3-inch AMOLED display and 3,430mAh battery.

You can check out the deal at the link below.

Deal: Verizon offers $300 off the Pixel 3 and BOGO deals for Valentine’s Day

If you were thinking of getting that special someone a smartphone for Valentine’s Day, Verizon offers a few deals on the Google Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, LG V40 ThinQ, and more.

Here are the deals:

The highlight deal is $300 off the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. This is not an instant discount — it’s spread out across 24 months. That said, you don’t need to add a new line or trade in a device to get the discount.

Editor’s Pick

If Google’s smartphones aren’t up your alley, buying the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, or Galaxy Note 9 nets you either a free second Galaxy S9 or $800 off the other two phones. Again, the discount is spread out across 24 months and you don’t need to trade in a device. You do have to activate the second phone on a new line, however.

Finally, Verizon also offers either a free LG G7 ThinQ or $750 off the LG V40 ThinQ if you buy either phone. The deals work the same as the Samsung deals.

The deals are available for a limited time. Hit up the links attached above to take advantage of these discounts.

Pixel 3 Night Sight compared to iPhone XS: it’s not really close (Update: Video)

 

Update, February 4, 2019 (5:32 PM ET): Google just published a brief behind-the-scenes video detailing its method for obtaining the low-light photographs discussed in the article below.

The video is reposted above if you want to check it out.

The video shows how Google mounted the Google Pixel 3 next to an iPhone XS so the camera lenses of each device were as close together as possible. It then shows how the photographers took every photo at the exact same time. The video also displays text that promises “no retouching, no filters,” which seems legit when you look at the screenshot below:

Google’s Night Sight — and the Pixel 3’s camera in general — continues to be one of the biggest selling points of the company’s latest smartphone.


Original Article, January 28, 2019 (01:28 AM ET): Night modes are all the rage in the smartphone industry, with Huawei, Google, OnePlus, and Xiaomi offering the option on their devices. Now, Google has compared the Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode to the iPhone XS in a low-light situation (seen above), and there’s a stark difference between the two.

Google’s Night Sight

Google marketing executive Marvin Chow posted the comparison on Twitter, showing “Phone X” on the left, and the Google Pixel 3 with Night Sight on the right. The tiny text on the left tells us that “Phone X” is actually the iPhone XS.

The scene, which shows a model standing in front of a neon-lit scene at night, seems ideal for the Night Sight mode. The Pixel 3 managed to deliver a brighter overall scene, clearly showing the woman’s face, clothing, and other elements. But the buildings in the background were also brighter and more detailed in Google’s photo, save for some blown-out lighting. Heck, you can even see a brighter (but not too noisy) sky in the Pixel 3 snap.

How did the iPhone fare?

Meanwhile, Apple’s phone was much darker overall, as the model seems silhouetted against the neon environment. The woman’s face is almost completely dark, and her clothing doesn’t retain the same rich color as Google’s effort.  The iPhone XS photo managed to tame the lighting in the background though, while Google prioritized the model instead. But based on the fact that we have an obvious subject in the viewfinder, I’d say Google’s phone certainly made the right decision.

Editor’s Pick

Still, I wonder whether the iPhone XS truly is that bad, almost as if the photographer adjusted exposure on the background instead (or simply didn’t tap on the subject’s face). But if there’s no foul play here, then it’s clearly a big win for Google.

Night mode is becoming one of the most important weapons in a smartphone camera’s arsenal these days, combining multiple exposures with smart algorithms. Apple’s iPhones lack this feature right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a future version of iOS offers this functionality. This could be a boon for older iPhones too, giving Apple’s legacy devices a welcome boost in low-light situations. But until then, the Pixel 3 seems to reign supreme when the sun goes down.

NEXT: Why Google bans ad-blockers, but is actually fine with ad-blocking browsers

January 2019 Android security patch arrives for Pixel devices and the Essential Phone

Update (Jan. 7, 2:40pm ET): As is the tradition at this point, Essential has announced that the January security patch is currently rolling out to the Essential Phone. While we continue to wait for some manufacturers to announce when Android Pie will make it to various handsets, Essential is rolling out firmware updates within hours of Google.

Original post (Jan. 7, 1:43pm ET): In the midst of CES 2019, Google has begun rolling out Android’s January security patch. This month’s update appears to be primarily focused on fixing video recording issues on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL in addition to other bug fixes.

The January security patch fixes 13 various vulnerabilities in the Android Open Source Project. The most severe of these security bugs could “enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.” Fortunately, things were fixed before anyone could use the vulnerabilities to harm any users.

For Pixel devices, this update “Improved audio quality when recording videos” on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. No specific bugs other than two security vulnerability fixes were noted for the rest of Google’s hardware.

Unlike with the last two months, owners of the original Pixel and Pixel XL don’t have to wait for January’s security patch. This month, Google appears to have the updates prepared and available for every Pixel device.

Of course, with the new year, we have to say goodbye to the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. As Google only promises security updates for three years after the release of a phone, we have officially reached the end of support date for both handsets.

If you don’t want to wait for the January security patch to make its way to your phone or tablet, you can download the latest factory image or OTA file from the links below. From there, you can either flash a fresh build to your phone or sideload the OTA update.

Google in 2019: All in on AI

With the release of the Google Pixel 3 in October, Google reaffirmed its position as a worthy contender in the bloody war of the smartphone industry. However, despite the handset’s glowing reviews, the Pixel line still has a very small market share, especially compared to popular lines from Samsung or Huawei.

While Google’s ambitions for smartphone dominance may have a long way to go, it made huge strides in 2018 with Google Home hardware products like the Google Home Mini. It also solidified its reputation as the reigning king of the AI and virtual assistant world.

Let’s take a look at how Google ended 2018, and what’s likely to come in 2019.

Pixels are selling, but market share is still small

The back of the Google Pixel 3.

The Pixel 3 XL was probably the most successful smartphone of 2018 in one metric: organic publicity. While Google likely spent millions promoting the phone, the leak of black market prototype devices gave the Pixel 3 more promotion than Google could ever buy.

Months before the official launch of the Pixel 3 was even revealed, the public had already seen the Pixel 3 XL from every angle. We saw unboxing videos, full reviews, and photography samples before Google ran even one official ad for the device.

However, even with all this promotion, the Google Pixel 3 was no sales juggernaut. According to revenue estimates, the Pixel line — which includes Pixel smartphones, the Google Pixelbook, and the Google Pixel Slate — earned about $1.78 billion in combined gross profit in 2018. It might seem like a lot, but Samsung’s mobile division made $2 billion in gross profit from its smartphone sales in just the third quarter of 2018. That was a bad quarter, too.

The Pixel line is doing well — if you don’t compare it to any other major smartphone on the market.

Granted, Samsung offers many different smartphones, while Google only has one line, but that doesn’t negate how Pixel smartphones don’t earn Google nearly as much revenue as competitors’ devices.

Another metric illuminating Google’s lack of market share is its own Android distribution report. The most recent report from October 26, 2018, shows devices running Android 9 Pie — which would theoretically include every Pixel smartphone at that point — make up less than a tenth of a percent of all active Android devices.

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One tenth of a percent of the 2 billion active Android devices is 20 million devices. That means we can estimate there have been less than 20 million Pixel smartphones sold since the original Google Pixel launched in 2016.

Once again, 20 million might seem like a lot of smartphones for two years of sales, but in just the 2017 fiscal year, Apple sold over 216 million iPhones.

All of this data points to one thing: Google’s ambitions in the smartphone market have a very long way to go.

The one thing Google has over its competition is software. Along with a steady stream of Android updates, the Pixel smartphone line has arguably the best camera software of any smartphone in the history of smartphones. It also has unique AI-based features that competitors have yet to match.

We will just have to wait and see if Google can turn those superior products into more sales.

Google’s Chrome OS hardware isn’t gaining traction

Google’s Chrome OS is doing astoundingly well, especially in the education sector. By the end of 2017, in the United States, almost 60 percent of mobile computing shipments to schools from kindergarten to grade 12 were Chromebooks.

School systems love Chrome OS. The operating system is easy for kids to learn and use, and the hardware costs a fraction of what Windows laptops go for.

So why isn’t the Google Pixelbook or the recently-released Google Pixel Slate a best-selling computer on the market?

That answer is simple, too: price.

Google will never gain any traction in the laptop market if it doesn’t release hardware at an affordable price.

Competitor companies like Samsung, Asus, and Acer sell Chromebooks like hotcakes by keeping the devices as cheap as possible. Google is taking the opposite approach and creating top-tier hardware with a top-tier price tag. The entry-level variant of the Pixel Slate is a whopping $800 if you buy it with the (one would say necessary) keyboard sleeve. A maxed-out model of the Slate with its keyboard sleeve would cost you no less than $2,000.

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If Google wants to make a dent in the laptop market, it needs to abandon the idea of selling Chromebooks at Apple prices, at least for now. The Pixel Slate is powerful, beautiful, and altogether awesome, but the people ready to spend that much money on a laptop or tablet will just buy a Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple MacBook instead. It seems like the Pixel Slate was simply made for Google fans.

Maybe Google will be able to command $2,000 for a Chromebook years down the line. For now, it’s a fool’s errand.

Smart speakers are Google’s success story of the year

Google Home Hub logo

Despite the ho-hum progress of Pixel smartphones and laptops, Google’s smart speaker hardware is a force to be reckoned with. In 2016, it was estimated Google earned a gross profit of $49 million off its entire line of Home devices. In 2018, Home products will earn Google an estimated gross profit of $847 million, an increase of over 1,728 percent in two years.

If you look at revenues instead of profits, things get even more spectacular. In 2018, it’s estimated Google made $3.4 billion in revenue off its Home hardware, which is about the same amount it made off Pixel hardware.

A Pixel smartphone costs much more than most Google Home hardware. At $50 a pop, Google could potentially have sold over 50 million Google Home Minis in 2018.

Google is moving massive amounts of Google Home hardware — and the numbers are only going to get bigger.

Unfortunately, the two major companies in the smart speaker market — Google and Amazon — don’t report how many products they ship. Using estimates from market research firms and miscellaneous related data, it’s safe to assume Google is gobbling up market share from Amazon.

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Additionally, numerous research firms report Google Assistant — which powers Google Home hardware — is the best virtual assistant currently available. Most reviews of smart speakers also conclude that Google Home hardware is the best you can buy.

This is all fantastic news for Google, as AI and virtual assistants are the future. Although Google’s cash cow right now is still Google Search, it won’t be that way forever. Google knows years from now, its virtual assistant will be its cash cow, and the company has already set itself in the lead.

An interesting thing to note about Google Home hardware is price. A Google Home Mini is $50 and a Google Home Hub smart display is $150. Can it be a coincidence that these priced-to-move units are the best thing going for Google’s hardware division right now?

There’s still plenty of competition

The OnePlus 6T next to the Google Pixel 3 XL.

Google Search has little competition around the world. Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Chrome are also practically untouchable in their markets.

This is not the case with Google hardware devices like the Google Pixel smartphone or Google Pixel Slate. Even the runaway success of Google Home faces stiff competition from Amazon and others.

In the smartphone arena, Google faces competitors delivering devices with comparable hardware and lower prices. A phone like the OnePlus 6T undercuts the Google Pixel 3 by hundreds of dollars, delivering more RAM, more internal storage, the same processor, and the same all-glass build. Yes, the Pixel 3 has a far superior camera, but OnePlus understands consumers will buy up a device in droves if it cuts the right corners to keep it cheap.

RELATED: OnePlus 6T vs Google Pixel 3 XL

In the cases of laptops and computers, Google is pricing itself out of the market. The Microsoft Surface Pro tablet is on its sixth generation, which means consumers can find Surface Pros for half the price of a low-end Pixel Slate. To make matters worse, that Surface Pro will be able to run Windows applications which the majority of people are still looking for in a laptop experience.

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No matter how fancy of a laptop Google makes, few will buy it if it runs Chrome OS and costs as much as a macOS or Windows device. Consumers will stick with the operating system they know unless Google can give them an incentive to switch — which means dropping the price.

Finally, Google Home hardware is doing incredibly well, but Google’s main competitor Amazon is also doing incredibly well. What’s more, Amazon is doing most things faster than Google. It had its first smart speaker on sale well before Google. Amazon also beat Google to the punch in the smart display market and often releases new features before Google.

It’s a good bet Amazon will launch a new smart speaker product in 2019 and Google will launch its own answer to that product months later.

If Google wants to truly dominate the smart speaker industry, it needs to be faster than Amazon.

Google in 2019

Google is poised to drop some seriously interesting products in 2019. The most interesting is probably the anticipated Google Pixel 3 Lite (which may or may not be its real name).

Up until now, there have been two Pixel phones released each year: the regular Pixel and its XL counterpart. In 2019, however, we anticipate Google will release a mid-range Pixel and Pixel XL, likely delivering the same software experience as the “real” Pixel 3, but with downgraded hardware and specs to make it more affordable.

This could open up the Pixel experience to people in developed nations with more modest budgets, and also potentially allow people in developing countries like India to buy a Pixel. It could be a huge boon for the Pixel line.

For the first time ever, we’ll likely see a mid-range Pixel smartphone in 2019.

We don’t know much for certain about the Pixel 3 Lite, including its price. Google could overprice it and contradict the whole idea. We’ll probably hear more about the Pixel 3 Lite soon.

While we have some info on the Pixel 3 Lite, we haven’t heard anything about Google releasing a mid-tier laptop or tablet. If Google doesn’t have plans to release a Pixel Slate Lite in 2019, it really should. As stated earlier, people who can afford a Pixel Slate probably won’t buy it over a Windows- or macOS-based machine at a comparable price. If Google could deliver a high-end hardware experience in the $500 range (with the keyboard included), it might stand a chance to grab some serious market share.

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Google’s Project Stream — which lets you play AAA video games using in your browser — could also help a mid-range Chrome OS tablet sell. If Google could make a Chromebook or tablet run pretty much anything on a virtual server, Chrome OS would really have a chance against Windows and macOS. Project Stream is still in its infancy, though, so it’s unlikely this would make a huge difference this year.

Finally, we didn’t see a Google wearable in 2018. However, with Google’s push of Wear OS and Google Fit, it seems it’s only a matter of time before we see a “Made by Google” smartwatch.

RELATED: 2019 will be a great year for smartwatches and fitness trackers

There’s some truly untapped potential in the wearable market, especially for Google. It could sell a wearable not as a generic smartwatch, but more like a Google Home smart speaker you carry around on your wrist at all times. For that to work, Google would have to adopt the same strategy as it did with its Home hardware: make it great and make it cheap.

Google’s major advantage: Limitless cash

A Google logo.

Unlike pretty much every other hardware manufacturer in the mobile industry, Google practically prints money from its Google Search business. The amount of cash the company pulls in from Search alone helps fund all sorts of risky endeavors (Wi-Fi balloons, anyone?), as well as more straightforward things like the Pixel smartphone.

With that in mind, there really is no excuse for Google to not be one of the best hardware manufacturers in the business. It has the talent, the money, the marketing power, and the infrastructure to do pretty much whatever it wants. That’s why the low adoption rates of the company’s smartphones and tablets are so confounding.

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If Google truly wants to dominate the mobile markets, it needs to start from the beginning just like every other company. It needs to release smartly-priced products to get people hooked, and then release better, more expensive products as the business becomes more refined.

This whole strategy of rushing out of the gate charging Apple prices for hardware riddled with problems and out-spec’d by phones half the price simply won’t get the company anywhere. It understands this with Google Home hardware, but not with other divisions.

Google has everything it needs to make 2019 its year. Let’s see if it can do it.

Next: HTC in 2019: Last chance saloon