Google recently announced the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL smartphones. At around the same time, my (now three-year-old) ZTE Axon 7 started to get cranky without constant reboots and its call quality took a nosedive. As I noted in a previous post, the Pixel 4 also cut Google Daydream support, which I regularly use.

Luckily, that also reduced the price of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. On the Google Play store, the Pixel 3 XL dropped from $1129 CDN (which is around $860 USD) to $729 CDN (which is around $550 USD). I then saw the winner: a used Pixel 3 XL (64 GB, Black) for $455 CDN (which is $350 USD) from a reseller on Best Buy Canada. Taking the “used phone” risk, I placed the order at 4pm on Thursday. It was at my door on Friday morning. I can’t see a single scratch on it.

I am not a heavy phone user, but the handful of people that I’ve called have all said that my voice quality is significantly better than my previous phone. (Apparently the old ZTE Axon 7 was unpleasant to listen to, but no-one wanted to say anything.) The device also feels a lot more responsive, likely due to the faster (Qualcomm Snapdragon 845) processor as well as the clean install of Android 10. The phone also handles Daydream much better. The Axon 7 would get up to 50 degrees Celsius (~122F) after an hour of YouTube VR, according to its preinstalled battery temperature monitor, while the Pixel 3 XL felt normal.

The camera is also significantly better, especially in low light. I was recently at a wedding, and the Axon 7 was not able to keep up with the dimly lit reception. The Pixel 3 XL, on the other hand, takes some impressive photos, especially when tweaking the RAWs after the fact. Its relatively low (12.2 MP) resolution, while great for low light, does lower the camera’s effectiveness in certain situations. You need to get close for high-detail shots.

Basically, it seems like an excellent purchase for under $500 CDN, tax in and free shipping. That said, it was a used phone. Your mileage may vary.