Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL pack software surprises, start at $799

Despite months of leaks, Google was able to keep a few surprises for Tuesday's announcement.

We already knew a lot about Google's latest smartphones, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. On Tuesday, in New York City, Google officially announced the smartphones.

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The Pixel 3 is the smaller of the two devices, with a display that measures 5.5-inches. It lacks a notch and instead has bezels above and below the display. The Pixel 3 XL has a notch at the top of the 6.3-inch display.

Both phones feature a glass back and wireless charging capabilities -- a first for the Pixel line. New stereo speakers are reportedly 40-percent louder.

Google used a 12.2-megapixel rear-facing camera and added an extra camera to the front of the phone. The front facing cameras are 8-megapixel, and make it possible to take Group Selfies.

The Pixel 3 line uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor, has 4GB of memory, and comes in 64GB or 128GB of storage. There are three colors available, black, white, and not pink.

The magic is in the software

If you'd been following any of the Pixel 3 leaks and rumors over the past few months, you likely knew a lot, if not all, about the Pixel 3's hardware. What we didn't know much about was any special software features Google would add to the Pixel line.

Indeed, the Pixel 3, which runs Android Pie 9.0, has some fancy new software features.

The new camera app, for example, relies heavily on AI. A new feature mimics Google Clips' ability to take photos on its own, using AI to decide what's important and what's not. The new mode, called Photo Booth, uses the front-facing cameras when the phone is propped up to take a series of photos.

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Super Res Zoom, an AI-powered featured where digital zoom is used, enhancing pixels that would otherwise look distorted. Another feature -- Top Shot -- will take a series of photos before and after a user presses the shutter button, and will present the best photo of the lot to the user.

Night Sight allows users to take photos on the Pixel 3 in a low-light environment without a flash. Instead, it uses machine learning to recreate accurate colors.

Other software tweaks and features worth noting include a call screening feature, Flip to Shhh, and Google's new Titan Security chip.

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Pricing and release date

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL start at $799 and $899, respectively. Doubling the storage carries a $100 premium. The devices are once again a Verizon Wireless exclusive for retail availability but come unlocked from Google to work with any carrier.

The devices are available for pre-order right now through Google's online store, with orders set to arrive Oct. 18. Shortly after the Pixel 3 was made avaialble on the Google Store, shipping esitmates showed Oct. 17 as the release date. Google has confirmed to ZDNet the release date is Oct. 18.

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