The Google Pixel 3 Is Rugged AF

Image: Angharad Yeo

Something you should know about me is that I'm a klutz.

One of the nicknames that my parents bestowed upon me during childhood was 'Super Spiller'. The other was 'Possum'. I've never been able to shake either moniker.

My penchant for dropping shit has carried over into adulthood, and has resulted in a myriad of cracked and waterlogged phones over the years. Yeah, I even dropped an iPhone 4 in a toilet once. Okay, twice.

When it comes to handsets I'm a walking stress test - a fact that was reinforced when I recently took a Google Pixel 3 XL on an 18km hike in the Blue Mountains.

Google Pixel 3 Review: The Other Way To Make A Killer Phone

The history of smartphone improvement has largely relied on companies cramming faster or more powerful components into the now ubiquitous glass slabs we carry around. But the Pixel 3 is something else. Instead of focusing on things like a brighter screen, tons of RAM, or multiple rear cameras, almost all of the Pixel 3's advantages come from a software-first mindset. This results in a smarter, more intuitive experience that feels very different from the hardware-driven approaches employed by many of Google’s competitors. And while this isn’t Google’s first attempt at something like this, this third Pixel (we evaluated both it and the Pixel 3 XL) is the device that really pulls all of Google’s efforts together and makes it feel special.

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The entire incident was my fault. I have a bad habit of keeping my phone out on hikes to take photos. Its not exactly conducive to relaxation and while I put it away during tricky descents and inclines, it's still not ideal practice.

It was this obsession that resulted in my slipping on a boulder and dropping the Pixel into a deep puddle of thick, muddy water.

That familiar sense of dread overwhelmed me immediately. Realising I'd probably buggered the handset and wondering how much repairs were going to be.

Despite my instant internal fears (and outward expletives), I managed to fish it out quickly. It was only submerged for about 15 seconds.

Much to my surprise, it was fine. Filthy, but fine.

I stopped our hiking procession to test it. The screen was working, the apps were opening without any lag and it was charging from the power bank with no issues.

Nice.

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the phone when it was muddy. I was too paranoid about ruining it to immediately think, "Ohhh, content!"

That mentality did not apply to the second water-dropping.

That's right, ya girl did not learn her lesson.

Several hours and many kilometers after the first incident I went right on ahead and tripped again, phone in hand. This time it landed in a shallow stream.

One of our reviewers, Angharad Yeo, managed to snap a couple of quick pics on the fly after I yelled about how I had done it again. If we're being honest, I was happy about it. I really wanted to write this article.

This wasn't a bad as the muddy puddle; the USB-C port wasn't even submerged. Still, everything was in perfect working order. Image: Angharad Yeo

To be fair, there are a couple of things that contributed to the survival of the Pixel 3 XL. Firstly, there was the backing case, which helped when I kept dropping it on hard surfaces - like all of those bloody rocks.

More importantly, the device has an IP68 moisture protect rating. This means that it can be submerged in water for up to 1.5 meters for half an hour.

Comparatively, my Pixel didn't get anywhere near that time limit. So this morning I threw it in a jug of water.

Between the mini photo shoot and explaining what I was doing to horrified co-workers, the Pixel 3 XL spent about 10 minutes in the jug. It worked fine after I dried the screen off.

It's worth noting that all of the above examples of Pixel abuse occurred in fresh water. IP68 can't guarantee protection against salt water, so be sure to check your pockets before going for a dip in the ocean.

Taking the IP68 rating into consideration, my little adventures may not seem quite so impressive. But I there's something to be said for the mental reality of dropping your phone.

The Pixel 3 XL isn't the first handset to be this impressively water resistant, and I knew that it was well before launch. But that knowledge didn't negate the immediate sense of panic when I saw it slip into the muddy water.

Similarly, my workmates were anxious about my dunking it in a jug, regardless of the guarantees. So was I, to be honest.

Facts are great, but its the multiple hands-on experience with Pixel's water resistance that has converted me.

Since the Blue Mountains I have lugged it around the beaches of the Royal National Park and even gave it a workout at CES in Las Vegas, where it had all manner of questionable mixed beverages spilled on it.

Still, it lives. No cracks, scratches or waterlogging.

I've finally found a device that can survive me. At least for now.

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