Google isn't worried about packing the absolute top-of-the-line specs into its phone, nor is it concerned with supporting "legacy" hardware features anymore, and that could be a dealbreaker for some. There's no headphone jack or microSD card slot on the Pixel 3, and it only has 4GB of RAM, which raises some concerns regarding future-proofing and longterm performance.
Instead, the Pixel 3 is for those who care about a clean software experience and timely updates above all else. If you've used a non-Google phone and found yourself irritated by unnecessary software add-ons or slow rollouts of new Android versions, the Pixel is an easy choice.
It's also a fantastic option if you heavily value your phone's camera. The Pixel 3 has one of the best photography experiences in mobile, combining a great sensor with Google's intelligent software features to create stunning, DSLR-like images with each shot. There's a new wide-angle front camera for taking group photos, and the rear camera has been improved over last year's, offering better low light, zoom, and dynamic range.
Is it worth upgrading if I already bought a phone this year?
Assuming you bought a flagship, probably not, unless you're unhappy with your current phone. Whether you're using a Galaxy S9, an LG G7, or a OnePlus 6, the Pixel 3 likely won't be a dramatic upgrade in terms of specs or performance — at least not enough to warrant selling your device and spending another $800+ on a new one.
The Pixel 3 is for those who care about a clean software experience and timely updates above all else.
If you're coming from a lower-end device, however, the Pixel 3 is worth considering over some of the aforementioned alternatives. While not everyone enjoys the barebones experience of stock Android, it's certain to get updates faster than phones from other manufacturers, and just as importantly, it'll get them more often — Google supports its Pixel devices years after they're released.
What if I already have a Pixel 2?
It's harder to recommend the Pixel 3 if you already own a Pixel 2. Both from a hardware and software perspective, there weren't a whole lot of major changes made this year; each model has roughly the same design and a nearly identical build of Android 9 Pie.
Furthermore, many of the Pixel 3's new features will be coming to the Pixel 2 soon via software updates, including call screening, Playground (Google's AR stickers app), adjustable background blur in Portrait Mode, and Night Sight — which isn't even available on the Pixel 3 just yet. While it's not quite the same as getting a new phone, there are enough new features on the way to make your Pixel 2 feel like a new phone.
Of course, none of that is to say that there aren't any new improvements, as only the Pixel 3 features many of the new camera enhancements like Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, Motion Auto Focus, and a wide-angle front camera. Pixel 2 owners may also appreciate the new model's considerably larger display with roughly the same physical dimensions.
For some, those improvements will be worth upgrading, but unless you plan on taking a lot of group selfies or just can't stand your 16:9 display any longer, you're probably fine to hold off for now — maybe wait for next year's Pixel refresh instead.
The Pixel 3 isn't a dramatic upgrade over last year's model, but it makes minor improvements that all add up to a more cohesive experience with clean, intuitive software and some of the best cameras in mobile.