All new Pixel 3 features that are coming to the Pixel 2, and a few that are not

The Pixel 2 started at $649, and, tellingly enough, kept the same price even after the Pixel 3 and 3 XL announcement. Why is that? Well, the new phone starts off at $799, that's why, so its predecessor now looks like a relative bargain.

What will you gain if you get the new Pixel 3 instead of the Pixel 2, and is it worth the extra $150? It depends whether you are buying a new one, or already have a Pixel 2 or 2 XL, then the equation changes dramatically. 

This is why we made a list of all the new Pixel 3 and 3 XL features that are coming to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL at some point, and a few options that will be impossible to land unless you splurge for the newer handsets to help you decide.

New Pixel 3/XL features to expect on Pixel 2/XL

Night Sight

The HDR+ technology on the Pixel 2 and 2 XL quickly takes and merges up to 9 shots with different exposures to achieve evenly distributed lighting throughout the frame's highlights and shadows. Google also uses computational photography or "a machine-learning based approach to auto white balance" in order to, say, keep neon sign glow in check, too. On Pixel 2, however, if you want to keep a zero shutter lag impression after you tap the button, you can't have shutter speeds below 1/15s during the whole 9-shot buffer span.

A new approach to low-light photography enters the fray with the Pixel 3, and will be trickling down to the Pixel 2 as well "in the coming weeks." Called Night Sight, the mode was advertised by juxtaposing a low-light snap from the iPhone XS, which seemed much darker than the one from the Pixel 3 (that one also looked like taken during the day, but we digress).

How does Google approach the night shot this time around? Well, it now merges up to 15 frames with shutter speeds that can go down to 1/3s, and gets you a result similar to what a very long, 5-second exposure would do in extremely dim lighting. That's quite the long exposure jump - from 0.6s (9 frames x 1/15s) to 5s - so something has had to give. 

That something is, unfortunately, the zero shutter lag of the buffer, so now Google expects you to hold the phone steady until it is done with the Night Sight shot. On the plus side, this is why Pixel 2 will be able to get the mode which sounds suspiciously similar to what Huawei is doing with the Night Shot on the tri-camera P20 Pro.


AR Stickers, a feature that Google introduced last year as an exclusive to the Pixel and Pixel 2, is now Google Playground. The new name hints at a certain interactive component, and, as you can see in the promo video below, characters won't simply enter the frame without customization options.

With Playground’s new Playmoji, you can interact with the AR stickers in real time as they will move when you move. It works with the front camera, too, and creating some really exciting selfie possibilities.


Google already introduced the creepy Duplex feature of Google Assistant that called restaurants and hair salons for you to make appointments, and Google was even forced to make a disclaimer so people know they are dealing with a virtual entity not a person. Well, the limited-release beta is now ending and Duplex will be available as a feature on the new Pixel 3 and 3 XL, but will trickle down to older Pixels in November, in a location-by-location rollout throughout the US.

Call Screen

Another new location-dependent Pixel 3 option that will likely begin rolling out together with Duplex on older Pixels is the so-called Call Screen feature. As the name implies, it will screen robocalls for you and let you know if the conversation is worth having. Needless to say, it is going to depend on a database that will only grow with time, so don't expect wonders from it from the very beginning. Call Screen is based on Google Assistant, too. 

New Pixel 3/XL features NOT to expect on Pixel 2/XL

Apart from the obvious hardware-related new Pixel 3 options that won't come to the Pixel 2 like wireless charging or the new Titan-M security chip, there are plenty of camera app modes and even interface features that will remain exclusive to Google's latest and greatest.

Sorry, TopShot, Photobooth, Super Res Zoom, and a few others aren't making the jump over to your trusty old Pixel 2, so you'll either have to splurge at least $799 to get them, or sell your soul to Verizon to get the discounted Pixel 3 or 3 XL

source: Google & DPReview

Related phones

Pixel 3 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64GB
  • Battery 3430 mAh
Pixel 2
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128GB
  • Battery 2700 mAh



1. cmdacos

Posts: 4388; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

"that one also looked like taken during the day, but we digress" Google must have photoshopped the same clouds in as well.../s

2. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Meaning that Night Sight photos are going to look way brighter than the actual dusk scenes in front of the lens, the Night shot mode of the P20 Pro does something similar, as it works in a similar hold-it-steady way :)

3. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Any word on the Now Playing log/history coming to the Pixel 2? That's something I would definitely use a lot.

4. slim3bdo

Posts: 186; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

He got you so bad you avoided his comment You said in your article that Google took the shot during the day But he pointed out your mistake and biased towards apple with the cloud being in the same position Just admit you are wrong

6. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

These long-exposure modes produce photos that look brighter than the scene actually is, not that Google has doctored it, they are just not a credible representation of the real amount of ambient light, hence look like "taken during the day". Most of the time you'd take a brighter shot than something that is barely visible for the sake of realism, though, if the option is there.

7. cmdacos

Posts: 4388; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

When you say 'but we digress' you are challenging the legitimacy. To back track now and say that your intent was to call out how impressive it is that these dusk shots look like they were taken in the day doesn't need to be emphasized because that is the entire point of the feature.

8. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

If one is conspiracy-prone, sure, more like manufacturers love to call them "Night" something while the results can't be told apart from daytime shots :)

9. Supah

Posts: 692; Member since: Mar 08, 2017

Who's worse, Daniel P or Ray S?

5. Tuga_Peter

Posts: 17; Member since: Oct 27, 2014

I think it is still great to see google bring some to the new features to the previous pixel devices. Same as last year that made available the portrait mode for pixel 1 devices as well (less precise because was missing the dual pixel technology). I believe that features like focusing the subject on movement or even the top shot that requires the camera to take several HDR pictures before and after are definitely hardware features. There is nothing in the article speaking about the adaptive depth-of-field and if it is coming to older devices as well (I consider it as a feature too)

11. Penny

Posts: 1871; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around how 15 1/3 second exposures results in the same amount of light captured as a 5 second exposure. Will need to look into this.

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5810; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Google really undersold their new camera improvements Will be interesting to see Pixel 3 vs Mate 20 Pro vs S10

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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