I Took The Google Pixel 3 To Coachella — & It’s The Perfect Festival Phone

Yesterday, I descended on Coachella Valley in Indio, CA, with a Google Pixel 3 in hand. I inhaled a lot of dust, witnessed a lot of dance-floor makeouts, shed tears when Ariana Grande brought *NSYNC onstage, and asked many strangers to take pictures of me and my sister.

I left the festival with the most professional batch of photos I’ve ever gotten on a phone, from my many selfies to Ariana Grande’s pink-and-blue dreamscape orb to the ferris wheel at midnight. Basically, the Pixel is the perfect festival companion. Ahead, check out how I did Coachella Pixel-style taking full advantage of the night photography feature, mastering the Group Selfie, and dropping more than a few dancing Childish Gambino Playmoji.

Google paid for Coachella tickets and a hotel stay as part of a press trip the writer of this story attended. However, Google did not approve or review this story.

Night Sight

My hands-down favorite feature of the Pixel is Night Sight. It’s a huge game-changer for night photography and seriously takes low-light photos to the next level, no flash necessary. The phone automatically suggests Night Sight when you’re in low light, so all you have to do is enable it. I went a little Night Sight crazy throughout Ariana Grande’s entire performance so that I can carry the memories in my pocket at all times for the rest of eternity.

Brighter in the Dark

Google Pixel put on “a multi-sensory sight and sound experience” installation called Brighter in the Dark designed by Childish Gambino, which made for a perfect setting for testing out Night Sight. The installation is comprised of two parts — one that isolates sight, and the other, sound. The righthand image was taken inside the soundscape part, which was pitch black, save for a neon light show paired with Childish Gambino’s music.

Childish Gambino Playmoji

Speaking of Childish Gambino, I tested out his new Playmoji, which you might recognize from its debut in a commercial during the Grammys. All you have to do is place him wherever you want in the photo and then do your thing alongside him.

This was very embarrassing for me to do in public. But also, people do a lot of weird shit at Coachella, the least of which is dancing by themselves.

Top Shot

This feature is super handy for capturing a moving subject like a performer on stage. To use it, you just enable motion on your photo, capture your intended image, and then click the three dots at the top of the photo.

From there, click Select Shots, and the camera roll shows you a range of shots in HDR+ and then suggests the best one. This is also really useful for when you’re taking a group shot and someone inevitably blinks just as the rest of the group gets into the perfect position. It’s sort of like Apple’s Live Photos but a bit more practical, since it helps you find the optimal shot out of the whole sequence.


Coachella has more selfies per capita than maybe anywhere? (Not fact, just assumption.) And the Pixel has two really awesome selfie features. The first is Photobooth, which lets you take an almost hands-free selfie. The Pixel’s AI detects when you’re smiling and snaps the shutter on its own at that exact moment — without you having to press a button or tap the screen.

There’s also Group Selfie, as depicted here, which gives you 184% more room in your photo for friends, family, or palm trees.

The Shopping Lens

Coachella fashion runs the gamut. As predicted by the R29 fashion team, I saw a lot of denim underwear. But I also saw many outfits that I liked and wanted to remember and possibly replicate myself post-‘Chella.

There’s a feature on the Pixel called Google Lens, where all you have to do is point the camera at an item of clothing and the lens will identify it and provides similar shoppable items for you. You can also use the feature for reading text or identifying plants or animals. But I mostly used it to i.d. cute shoes, of which there were many cool kinds roaming around the festival grounds yesterday.

Portrait Mode

Portrait Mode is a really easy way to get a new profile pic. All you have to do is click on Portrait, and you immediately get a professional-level photo with a blurred background and a sharp foreground. Once you snap the photo, you can also adjust the blurriness of the background, change what’s in focus, or leave the subject in color while changing the background to black and white. Portrait also works with multiple people in the foreground as well. (Apologies to my sister who is basically my official photo assistant now.)

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