Google Pixel 3 XL durability test suggests you may want to put a case on it


If you’re in the market for a hot new high-end smartphone, you’re probably considering Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL... alongside about a dozen other possibilities. Granted, these two aren't exactly affordable, and their battery life is far from impressive, but Android purists will be happy to know the software experience is smoother than ever before.

The single rear-facing camera is also surprisingly powerful, even compared to some dual and triple shooter solutions out there, while device durability appears to be a bit of a mixed bag. That’s at least according to popular YouTuber Zack Nelson from JerryRigEverything.

Nelson almost couldn’t get the Pixel 3 XL to flex at all in his signature bend test, which is obviously a great thing from an endurance standpoint. It also means the handset’s water protection will probably stand the test of time, no matter how often you forget this bad boy in your back pocket and end up sitting on it.

Unfortunately, scratch resistance seems to be the new phone’s major vulnerability. Not only is the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner about as scratchable as you expect, exhibiting issues registering fingerprints once damaged, but the entire backplate of the Pixel 3 XL is one big scratch magnet. Well, not the whole thing. Just the non-glossy lower part.

This shows its weakness in contact with both coins and keys, although if it makes you feel any better (and it shouldn’t), plastic objects don’t leave any marks on the back of the newest “pure Google” jumbo-sized phone.

Interestingly, another test performed by YouTuber Erica Griffin, aka the Technology Nerd Who Likes to Film Stuff, demonstrates a relatively easy fix to this problem. All you need is water, a toothbrush, some soap, and a bit of commitment. For the most part, those ugly scuff marks will disappear like magic, proving the glass surface isn’t technically as easily scratchable as it seems.


But the average user may not want to go through that kind of trouble to clean such an expensive device, so you can either forget about it or slap a case on it.

Scratch test aside, it might be worth pointing out that the Pixel 3 XL is deemed sturdier overall than its predecessor by Zack Nelson, with a number of minor but noticeable durability improvements in tow. Some of the buttons, the sides, and even the screen are better able to handle drops and... fire.

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 128 GB
  • Battery 3430 mAh

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24 Comments

1. Subie

Posts: 2257; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Wow, another glass backed phone with a "put a case on it" recommendation. Didn't see that coming...;)

3. alanrock

Posts: 221; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

true that :))

13. Subie

Posts: 2257; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I honestly wish some of these manufacturers would try a durably/quality poly-carbonate back like the kind Nokia was using in their earlier Lumia flagships. The 920 was built "like a tank" according to many reviewers. Metal and glass just works better from a marketing/psychological standpoint IMO...

24. Marienx

Posts: 115; Member since: Aug 27, 2013

A YouTuber by the name of Erika already proved that those are not scratches but mineral residues from the metal that contacts the phone. She goes on and washes the back with water and soap and the "Scratches" or marks completely disappeared.

2. Phonehex

Posts: 719; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Even though those "Scratches" can be removed , its still a bad choice of material by google .Except the tech community not everyone else will know how to get rid of those ugly marks. Phones will look terrible and again.. a bad move by Google.

7. BuffaloSouce

Posts: 1130; Member since: May 01, 2017

Then go make a phone and show everyone how done...

16. Phonehex

Posts: 719; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

@buffalosouce ..looks like you bought the ugly duckling... so bitter.. Lol

20. kabiluddin

Posts: 273; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

You are a racist piece of $hit. Can't wait for the day they finally ban you from here.

23. Phonehex

Posts: 719; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Please dont "explode" with anger.

14. GalaxyLeads_iCrapFollows

Posts: 184; Member since: Nov 29, 2017

Not only did google make an ugly phone, it is also not durable. lol. google is the next htc

4. srgonu

Posts: 489; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

I think google should give up on hardware and go back to nexus line.

6. Scott93274

Posts: 6024; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I disagree, my Pixel 2 is an amazing phone, I just wish they wouldn't price them so damn high.

8. BuffaloSouce

Posts: 1130; Member since: May 01, 2017

The nexus would be the exact same phone the Pixel is now.... it's just a different name

9. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 599; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

I've been saying this along, but people seem to think the name makes a difference. Google changed the name, that's it. The only thing they really approved upon from Nexus to Pixel are the cameras. It's still the same line of phones though.

10. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Yeah, but the Nexus 6P was bargain priced at $500+. And that was for the larger model. Now that the smaller Pixel starts at $800, it's out of my price range, otherwise I would've already ordered one.

17. srgonu

Posts: 489; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Not really. In case of Nexus, design and hardware presented to google by OEMs and google approves it. Once approved OEM does manufacturing and testing before release. For pixel google designs it themselves and tests it. That's where the problem is. As much as I want google to succeed, I hate the quality issues with 3 continuous iterations. Its just not worth googles effort.

18. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I think design was more collaborative. Google might have specced out certain wants and needs (size, SoC, screen tech, speaker placement) and then left it to the OEM to execute them. That might be why the Nexus 5X and 6P look so much like the Pixel 2 lineup.

5. maherk

Posts: 6637; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

A quick wash will remove these marks. These aren't scratches, in fact, these are the residue of the metal parts that came into contact with the glass back.

11. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Isn't frosted glass inherently more fragile? It's like having a billion little imperfections on the back of your phone. Feels great to the touch though, I'll give them that.

12. theot14430 unregistered

Not built good enough for me. Pass.

15. darkkjedii

Posts: 30675; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Seems to have RAM management issues too https://youtu.be/GF2o5NrT5lM

19. almostdone

Posts: 416; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

They need Samsung to build their phones.

21. tokuzumi

Posts: 1757; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

This is really the case for any glass sandwich. I find the metal band around the phone is usually slippery, so I put a minimalist TPU case to add some grip. Using this method, I haven't had an issue with a phone in 5-6 years. Added grip is also a must with these huge phones that are coming out now. Screens are way more expensive than in previous years, so anything to prevent damaging the practical joke screen would be a good thing.

22. D34ever

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 14, 2018

I don't think a phone's durability has any bearing on why people put a case on their phone.

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