Here's a first look at Google's new Pixel 3 phones

  • Google announced the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL during a press event in New York.
  • The Pixel 3 starts at $799 and launches Oct. 18.
  • CNBC had a chance to check out the Pixel 3, so here's a first look.

Google announced its new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones during a press event in New York on Tuesday. I had a chance to check them out briefly at the event.

Here are some initial thoughts:

The devices look very similar to last year's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, though the Pixel 3 XL has a notch, sort of like the iPhone XS. The design is vastly improved, though. While the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL felt cheap, the new models have a more premium quality thanks to the glass back panels. I also like how the white and pink versions have a different accent color for the power button, which is unique to Pixel phones.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

It's hard to judge a camera in just a few minutes with a phone, but I can already tell this one is good. It shoots pictures quickly, colors look accurate and I like the nice wide-angle lens on the front-facing camera for getting more people into a frame. It's not something I need, but I can see how teens might like this with a group of friends.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The screens look really good, and the notch doesn't bother me on the larger model. Last year's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL adopted new OLED panels for the first time, but they looked way too washed out until Google launched a software update. That's not a problem this year, and colors look just as bright as they do on my iPhone XS Max or Galaxy Note 9, at least at first glance.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

CNBC will spend more time with the Pixel 3 before providing a full review. Things like battery life, software performance and more can really only be judged over a longer period of time. But these phones already look more promising than last year's. They're available for order now for $799 and launch Oct. 18.

WATCH: First look at Google's new gadgets