In a surprising move, Google has released a cheaper version of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL–okay so it was leaked everywhere and not a surprise at all, but still, it is an interesting move.
I already did a day in the life video where I put its camera up against some other phones and checked to see how long it would take to kill the battery during normal use. Feel free to check that out here.
In this video, however, let’s do a more detailed dive about everything the Pixel 3a is and do a complete walkthrough.
First up let’s talk about the hardware.
The new Pixel 3a and 3a XL are half the price of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL and because of this there were some sacrifices (less than you’d think but we’ll get to that later). The first of them being that, instead of glass, the Pixel 3a is made out of plastic.
It is still this soft touch plastic on the lower section of the back and a glossier plastic for the top to further resemble the 3 and 3 XL’s style. And, honestly, while the Pixel 3 and 3 XL back feels great, you’d have a hard time telling anyone that the Pixel 3a feel just half as good.
We have another, even less noticeable difference regarding the materials. The front glass is not Gorilla Glass like we’re used to on most phones nowadays, instead it is DragonTrail glass. A similar product from a rival company that is much cheaper presumably, but feels just as much like glass as the monkey variety.
That screen is an 18.5:5 aspect ratio 5.6″ screen with a 2220 x 1080 resolution. Something to note about that screen is the fact that it will not support Daydream (Google’s VR platform) as according to Google, it has “resolution and framerate” issues that make it incompatible.
Above that screen, we don’t have two front cameras like on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Instead of the 19mm and 28mm equivalent cameras we had on those, we have one camera, basically in the middle of that at 24mm. That camera, by the way, is an 8MP f2.0 camera with 1.12-micron pixels.
Working around the device, we have our USB 2.0 Type-C port at the bottom along with one of our two dual speakers (the other is the earpiece). This port has support for USD Power Delivery 2.0 in the form of 18 watts. We also lose support for Qi charging compared to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
On the right, we have a volume rocker and our power button.
On the left, there is our NanoSIM slot (there is no MicroSD card slot or dual SIM).
At the top, we have a welcomed difference between the 3a and 3, a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the back, we have our fingerprint sensor that can also be used to pull down the notification shade, which I love.
Above that, we have the big thing everyone is talking about with this phone and that’s the fact it has the exact same camera as the more expensive Pixel 3 and 3 XL that have been praised even to this day as one of the best cameras on a smartphone.
As a refreshed, it’s a single lens 12.2MP f1.8 aperture 28mm equivalent optically stabilized camera with 1.4-micro pixels and dual pixel auto focus.
It can also shoot video at up to 4K at 30fps with some serious EIS enabled and can do 1080P up to 60fps.
We have modes for Panorama, portrait mode, night sight (Google’s version of Night Mode for brighter low-light shots using a long exposure), time-lapse, Google Lens, Photo Sphere, Photo Booth, and Playground (their AR lens).
On the inside, we have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset paired with 4GBs of RAM and 64GBs of storage. That Snapdragon 670 which is technically one of Qualcomm’s newest chipsets, but it’s in the mid-range and when compared to the Snapdragon 845 of the Pixel 3 in 3DMark, the difference is noticeable.
Now, while this means there is a noticeable difference in frame rates while playing games it doesn’t mean a big difference in day to day activities. Open apps are a hair slower, scrolling is as well, and image processing, too. But the truth is, thanks in part to the very minimalistic version of Android on all Pixel devices, you wouldn’t notice it.
For battery we have a 3000mah battery, that performs okay. Not amazing, and not horrible, but its similar to the Pixel 3 in that I don’t expect it to last me a full day with heavy use but normal use it’ll die right before I get home (check out my real-world test video for how the battery lasted throughout a typical day in more detail).
Moving on to software, we have what you’d expect from any Pixel device. While it’s technically not really stock Android, it’s basically the closest thing we have to anything that would resemble stock Android.
That means that it has the basic Android build (which is one of my favorite versions of Android) with a very minimalistic look, the Google Launcher for your home screen, and is super responsive and clean.
Because of that, like all Pixel devices, it’ll be upgraded to the latest versions of Android faster than any other device out (since there is no added software that needs to be added to Android like with other manufacturers), and Google even promised 3 years of software support.
Finally, the craziest thing about this device is the price. As mentioned, the Pixel 3a is half the cost of the Pixel 3–$399 compared to $799. And, at the time of writing this, you can find an extra $100 in credits on so many different places to buy it from that it’s basically $299, which is even more nuts.
Honestly, I’m having a hard time with this device. I feel like its literally all the good and bad things I felt about the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, but since it’s so much cheaper, I’m more impressed by the good and less annoyed by the bad. If you aren’t planning to game on the phone, I’d have a hard time telling anyone to get a Pixel 3 or 3 XL over the 3a and 3a XL. And that’s blowing my mind right now.
Let me know what you guys think in the comments below and if you’re interested in the Pixel 3a or 3a XL, here’s the cheapest price I could find on them.
As always, thanks for reading!