Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
"The best smartphone camera is now affordable with the Pixel 3a, and you also get a longer battery life."
- Intelligent and helpful software, fast updates
- Great performance
- Fantastic camera
- Relatively affordable price
- Good battery life
- Thick aperture
- The build quality feels a bit cheap
Google has released the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. This is the latest and greatest of the Pixel Team. Of course you have to pay more for it.
Mid-range phones have come a long way in just a few years. We've seen big performance upgrades, rechargeable flagship batteries, and a simplified software experience. While tremendous improvements have been made to the camera, phones under $ 500 are often unsatisfactory in this department, especially in low-light environments. It is a mistake we have addressed in almost every budget to improve the telephone quality review we conduct.
Enter Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL from Google. Pixel phones are known for their excellent cameras. Now you do not have to spend an arm or a leg to get one. You get the same rear view camera as the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL ̵
Same design, different materials
The design of the pixel line was often inconsistent. Some say it's too boring – even ugly – and there's no denying that Google does not offer the most modern phones. With everyone else in the industry continuing to shave frames around the screen and insert pinhole displays, Google sticks to dated and thick edges around the screen. When it tries to modernize, it ends up with something like the Pixel 3 XL with its controversial and ugly notch.
You do not have to worry about notches on the Pixel 3a or 3a XL, but thick bezels are still there. It's reminiscent of the Pixel 2 series, although the case of the phones is almost the size of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. The front of the Pixel 3a is no wonder, unlike mobile phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10e or the OnePlus 6T, which have futuristic screens.
On the back, things are different. It's almost a replica of the Pixel 3, but while the more expensive phones use glass, the Pixel 3a line uses a mix of glass and polycarbonate. The back does not attract fingerprints, but due to the low weight of the material, the phone feels a bit cheap. Nevertheless, I like the backside design of Google's pixel phones, even though I'm in the minority. It looks minimal and clean.
With excellent performance and long battery life it is almost pixel accurate.
The Pixel 3a is my choice between the two, as it is so compact and handy. I have no trouble reaching all parts of the screen with one hand. The Pixel 3a XL is handy, though I have big hands. Although I like the extra screens, I wish the phone was a bit narrower to make it more comfortable.
What else is different? There is a new color option – "Purple". It replaces the "non-pink" color of the Pixel 3 series, although I believe Google could have added a little more purple here, as it often looks just white (the phone also comes in black and white). The on / off switch has a neon yellow color paired with a purple tint that is neat.
The second forward facing speaker is gone. You still get two stereo speakers – the one that used to be on the lower bezel is now a bottom firing speaker. Audio still sounds good, but it does not sound so loud as a speaker blows music away from you. Just make sure that you do not obscure the lower speaker, and you get a pleasant experience.
The underlying screen technology is also different. Samsung Super AMOLED screens are no longer used. Google uses a "GOLED" panel instead. The pixel 3a has a resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 and the pixel 3a XL a similar resolution of 2,160 x 1,080. Both screens look sharp, are easy to spot in bright daylight, and have deep blacks, but I've found that the colors are more saturated than those of the Pixel 3 screen. HDR10 is also not supported.
If you watch Netflix's Our Planet which supports HDR, the Pixel 3 offers more lifelike colors. The screen of the Pixel 3a was unnaturally saturated, but changing the display settings from "Adaptive" to "Natural" fixed this for me (though you may prefer the more saturated look). In any case, the screen does not disappoint.
When I heard that the processor in the pixels 3a and 3a XL is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670, I was a bit cautious. My experience with Qualcomm's 600 chipsets was largely positive – the Snapdragon 660 of the BlackBerry Key2 and the Snapdragon 632 of the Moto G7 performed admirably – but more demanding tasks and high-end games often resulted in stuttering.
I'm impressed with how well the pixels 3a and 3a XL are doing.
This is not the case with the pixels 3a and 3a XL. When scrolling fast on Twitter, only a few stuttering occurred. However, this may be due to the fact that the posts are loaded slowly due to the Internet connection. App load times may be a bit longer, as well as image processing times, but the performance was otherwise fluid and fantastic.
After launching PUBG: Mobile the game suggested using the "High" graphics options option – usually the default setting is "Medium" or "Low" for 600 series or lower chipsets. The gameplay is fluid and the graphics looked good. I'm thoroughly impressed with the performance of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and had no qualms about using it on days when I knew I was going to need a lot of work on the phone.
Here are some benchmark results:
- AnTuTu 3DBench: 157.902
- Geekbench 4-CPU: 1.598 single-core; 5.150 Multicore
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 1.543 (volcano)
These values are significantly lower than the Pixel 3 Series on cell phones featuring the latest Snapdragon 855 processor, such as the Galaxy S10 and the Snapdragon 845 chipset , However, it surprisingly hit Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL, which achieved 146,776 and 110,949 points, respectively, on AnTuTu.
There may be some graphics-intensive games that could pause the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, but so far my experience has been smooth.
Intelligent Software and Promised Updates
Pixel phones mean fast updates. Google manages the Android operating system, so Android updates are immediately available for the Pixel series. The company promises at least three years of security and software updates, which means that the phone has a good support runtime.
Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will run Android 9 Pie, but the Android Q update will not be released until August. It's important to remember that most phones under $ 500 receive only an Android version update, with the exception of Android One phones such as Nokia 7.1.
The user interface of the software is otherwise simple, user-friendly and clear. It is also wise. My favorite feature is Now Playing – where the phone uses machine learning on the device to detect which song in your environment is playing, and gently shows you what's on the always-on display. Then there's Flip to Shhh, which lets you flip the phone on a desk to mute it. You can also press the phone to activate Google Assistant.
There's also the call screen, another of my favorite pixel features. You can check a call using Google Assistant, so you do not have to waste time answering annoying robocalls.
Pixel 3a and 3a XL add a new feature to the list: the Google Maps AR mode, which is now available for other pixel phones. This way, you can use a special mode in the Google Maps app to find out which direction you need to go if you use augmented reality. It works pretty well and is perfect for people who need to turn around in big cities.
If everything sounds good so far, the camera will seal the deal. The pixels 3a and 3a XL have exactly the same rear view camera as the pixels 3. This means that it is a 1: 1.8 aperture 12.2 megapixel lens and uses the same Sony IMX363 image sensor. There is an optical image stabilizer and an electronic image stabilizer as well as a fused video stabilizer to ensure a smooth running of the videos.
What's missing? The Pixel Visual Core Chip. It helps with image processing and coping with many camera-related machine learning tasks on the Pixel 3, but Google engineers have been working hard to redesign many of these features for the Snapdragon 670 slightly slower on the Pixel 3a.