The Pixel 3 uses two front-facing cameras, both 8 megapixels. (The rear camera is 12.2 megapixels.) With a quick tap, you can enable the second camera, which has a 97-degree field of view. That's wide enough to capture a group all at once, even with people on the fringes of what would normally work on a smartphone with the usual 73-degree field of view (ahem, like the iPhone). It's essentially a wide-angle lens on a smartphone.
The idea of taking "groupies" is not new. Several years ago, backstage photos from the Academy Awards and other major events showed all of the members of a cast or a group of celebrities taking a selfie. When you use a selfie stick, you can easily capture everyone in the shot. However, with a wide-angle lens like the one on the Pixel 3, you can take more spontaneous shots of a group without first extending the selfie stick.
My first thought was: Why did this take so long?
Adding a second camera on the front makes it easy to capture more of a scene with you and a group of friends in it, such as a shot in front of the Grand Canyon. I have a large family, and I'm excited to try the phone to see if I can fit everyone in the frame.
Google released a funny video that explains why many selfies don't quite work. At one point, some monkeys complain about the problem as well. It does a good job of sizing up the problem (quite literally), and the last frame shows an example of a nice groupie.
You could argue it is not the right term. A groupie is usually someone who follows a band around, and the connotations are not entirely pleasant. Yet, I also can't think of a better term. Once we accepted "selfie," we basically had to live with what would come next.
The camera has a few other cool tricks as well. A new feature can detect when someone is smiling and automatically snap the photo. Google uses new A.I. routines with the camera to help with things like low light and determining the focus.
The Pixel 3 is a powerful and feature-rich phone, otherwise. I'm excited to try it out, because Google keeps improving this phone. It's well made, for one thing. The glass back and solid construction mean you won't have to worry as much about cracks and dents. (I still recommend a case.) There's a new chip for the Pixel 3 that provides extra security. Called the Titan M, it encrypts data and makes it harder for hackers to break your login code.
Google is also addressing phone addiction. A new Wellbeing feature means you can set the phone face-down at any time to activate a Do Not Disturb mode. Wind Down sets the phone to grayscale gradually so it is not as engaging. And you can find out how much time you've spent using apps. This at least gives us a bit more info to make better phone use choices. And it could be a little depressing for some of us.
I'll report on the findings for this new model as soon as I finish up the testing.