Google has launched its latest smartphones under the shadow of a data exposure scandal.
According to the BBC, the Pixel 3 handsets introduce new photography features including a much higher-quality digital zoom than before.
The company suggests the innovation shows it has no need to place more than one camera on the handsets’ rear.
The launch comes a day after it emerged that a Google+ bug was not made public when it was discovered in the Spring.
The flaw led to personal data belonging to 500,000 members of the social network not being properly protected.
Google has announced it is now ending access to the service to the wider public.
The Pixel phones will not be directly affected by the move, but do make use of several of the firm’s cloud-based technologies including Google Photos – an image storage service that was spun out from Google+ three years ago.
One advantage of having more lenses, Google says is that each can offer a different focal length, letting users optically zoom in without a substantial loss in quality..
If the phone is locked to a tripod or otherwise steadied, the camera sensor’s image stabiliser slightly moves it about to get the same effect.
A second computational photography mode called Night Sight is also promised as a future update to take photos in low-light conditions without a flash.
It works by taking several frames at different exposures and then merging the data together while using machine learning-trained software to add back colour.
Other new features includes a Top Shot – a facility that automatically tries to identify the best image from a burst of photographs taken in quick succession.
Sunrise Mode – a feature that changes the colour of the screen to mimic dawn ahead of a morning wake-up alarm, if the phone is placed in an optional dock.
Titan – a new chip that secures biometric and other data, which Google says should make the devices harder to hack.
The Pixel 3 starts at £739 – slightly less than the iPhone XR – while the Pixel 3 XL starts at £869 – slightly more than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9.
They will be released in the US next week, and Europe at the start of November.
In addition, its smart speaker range gained a screen-based model called the Home Hub, which will compete with Amazon’s Echo Show.
Google said it had deliberately built the device without a camera in order to reduce privacy concerns around positioning it in personal places like the bedroom.
One industry-watcher said part of the company’s motivation for offering the Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL was to promote “the best of Google”, adding that the message would now be harder to convey.
“The value proposition of Pixel is not just the hardware but the whole Google experience,” explained Carolina Milanesi from the consultancy Creative Strategies.
“If you’re starting to question Google and whether or not you want to be entrenched in its services, then the value that you’ll see in the handsets will decline.”
Despite positive reviews for previous editions of the Pixel, they have been niche products.
Google attained a peak smartphone market share of just 0.53% in the final three months of 2017, according to market research firm IDC, and has since seen that drop to 0.14%.