In its most recent I/O, Google has just announced a mid-tier smartphone with some premium features. They call it the Pixel 3a and it’s actually amazing. As you might have guessed, it is based on the infamous Pixel 3.
Now, when I say infamous, I don’t necessarily mean that the Pixel 3 was a bad phone. It was just that at $800, it was just not worth it with the specs it had. The Pixel 3a, however, is here to change just that. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Pixel 3a is a mid-tier smartphone, unlike the Pixel 3, which means it’ll be missing some bells and whistles that you only get with a flagship.
Though it isn’t something to worry about as what the Pixel 3a does have, justifies its price. Let’s see what it all about.
Design & Display
Unlike its more expensive counterpart, which used glass, the Pixel 3a comes with a Polycarbonate unibody design. While the touch and feel of a polycarbonate back is unique in its own way, it doesn’t come close to the premium look that you get with glass. What you do get, however, is a more durable phone. Dropping it will definitely won’t shatter your phone, rest assured. You also get an old-fashioned fingerprint scanner on the back as well, where it’s the most convenient.
Up front, things are different as well. The 3a brings back the traditional bezels, thankfully replacing the abysmal notch that the Pixel 3 had. The display itself is a 1080p OLED panel measuring 5.6-inch and 6.0-inch on the Pixel 3a and 3a XL respectively. Since the OLED panel is sourced from Samsung, you can expect vibrant colors here as well.
This is where the Pixel 3a truly shines. It has inherited the incredible camera setup and software found in the Pixel 3. Now if you haven’t been keeping up, the Pixel 3 has one of the best cameras on a smartphone you can buy today. Even by having a single lens, it manages to take incredible pictures that rival the best from other manufacturers.
Up front, you get a single 8 MP shooter with f/2.0, that can shoot 1080p videos at 30fps. At the back, you also get a single shooter, this time at 12.2 MP with f/1.8. The main camera can also shoot 4K videos at 30fps while at 1080p, it can do 30, 60 and even 120fps for slow motion.
If you know the Pixel, you’d know that it’s not about the hardware that makes its cameras so great. It’s the software. And the 3a is no exception here. Along with the relatively simple hardware, it gets the same software feature as the one featured on the Pixel 3. This includes the iconic Night Sight. It’s still one of the best, if not the best, tool for low-light photography and a welcome addition in the Pixel 3a.
Somewhere the Pixel 3a doesn’t shine is in its raw performance. Under the hood, there’s a rather average Qualcomm Snapdragon 670. Which may not be that bad considering the Pixel 3a’s price point. However, it isn’t the best out there and with the rate, technology is advancing, it will start to show its age really soon.
The Pixel 3a will be available in one configuration only; with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. There’s no expandable storage available, much like every other new phone out there. Unlike, every other new phone, you do get a headphone jack, but at the cost of an IP water/dust resistant rating.
The battery is where the 3a does somehow redeems itself. You get a 3000mAh with the standard Pixel 3a and an impressive 3700mAh if you opt for the PIxel 3a XL. Compared to that, the more “premium” Pixel 3 and 3 XL had 2915mAh and 3430mAh respectively. The new phones also come standard with an 18W fast USB-C charger. However, you’ll finally be reminded that you cut costs when you find out that the 3a does not support wireless charging.
Price & Verdict
Finally coming to the price, it is pretty reasonable at best. For $400, you can get the Pixel 3a. Add in $80 and you can get yourself a Pixel 3a XL. In my opinion, Google has finally gotten the price right. Sure, the Pixel 3 had better features but it was, in no way, worth double this. For $400, you may be getting an “average” phone with certain compromises regarding performance, features and build quality. But the camera and the battery life alone are enough to win me over and declare this smartphone worthy of your purchase.