Phone companies have been ditching physical navigation buttons for a good few years now, but recently they've started gravitating towards gesture-based navigation instead of opting for virtual buttons at the bottom of your screen. Support for this has been available as part of Android Pie, but Google has confirmed the Pixel 3 won't be following in the footsteps of previous Pixels. In other words gesture-based navigation is mandatory.
Both the Pixel and Pixel 2 gave users a choice between gestures and a traditional virtual navigation bar, but now it seems Google has decided gestures are the future. Before you go out and buy a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, just remember that you're going to be stuck swiping around your screen to get about.
Hi! Pixel 3 introduces a new pattern that will represent navigation on all Android phones going forward. While change & adapting to new patterns is hard, we believe it's a better navigation pattern & makes app switching a faster experience.
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) October 9, 2018
As Android Police is quick to point out, this change isn't exactly unexpected. Gestures are enabled by default in Android Pie, so even before the Pixel 3 launch it was clear Google was hoping to transition away from buttons - virtual or otherwise. But now it's official, and you're going to be stuck this way. Unless, of course, you buy a different phone, or someone cobbles together an app that restores the lost illusion of choice.