Price: $ 399
What we like
- Incomparable value
- Excellent camera
- Excellent battery life
And what we do not
- No sealing
- Gesture control is bad
After months of rumors, that is Google Pixel 3a finally available. It's a more affordable version of the company's flagship because the corners are cut in the right places. It's 90 percent of Pixel 3 at half price.
It still offers most of the things that make the Pixel 3 so special: a superb camera, pixel-specific Android with updates directly from Google, the insanely fast and practical backside fingerprint sensor and meaningful software features – all for a starting price of $ 399 Dollars for the Pixel 3a ($ 479 for the 3a XL).
At half the price, of course, a few things are missing: wireless charging, waterproofing, "premium" materials and a first-class processor. But what he lacks in so-called "high-end" functions, he makes in good again.
The most exciting part of the 3a is that it still offers the best feature of Pixel 3: the Killer camera. Since most of the magic in post-processing is on pixel phones, Google in 3a could still offer things like portrait mode, night vision and other great camera features.
It is worth noting that this test focuses on the smaller of the two 3a phones. Since the 3a XL is basically the same phone with a larger screen, you should also be able to apply everything said to it.
Build quality, hardware and specifications: Oh Plastic, How I've Missed You
As manufacturers have begun to use higher quality materials such as aluminum and glass in cell phones, cell phones are too slippery, fragile and expensive. I do not know about you, but I do not like any of these things. Despite the direction in which the telephone industry has moved, I have longed for a plastic phone that is worth using. Pixel 3a is the answer to this longing.
Why plastic? Because it is light, almost indestructible, not easily scratched and not slippery. What more do you want from the body of a phone? I can not imagine anything better – damn it "quality" materials. And the 3a is made of plastic right. Some plastic phones feel cheap, but this little guy feels great. It is a well made little device. The plastic of the 3a is excellent (although it is a fingerprint magnet).
As far as the rest of the design is concerned, that's pretty much what I would expect from a phone with the pixel name. It feels great and well done. Although incredibly light, it still feels like a solid little phone. If the pixels 1 XL and 3 had a baby made of plastic, this would be 3a, as it has certain characteristics.
If you are interested in the overall layout of the phone, look at the right side, it houses the on / off switch and the volume rocker; At the bottom are the USB-C port and the lower speakers (more on this). The SIM card slot is on the right and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. Oh yes, it has a headphone jack. Cool, right?
Let's talk a bit about this controversial Jack. Many people were confused about the inclusion of the headphone jack in the 3a, especially since Google had killed them on the Pixel 3. However, according to the company, they were "of the opinion that consumers at this price, in this price range, really needed flexibility. "That's … pretty interesting. Because customers who shop at higher prices do not need flexibility? What a fascinating statement. But I digress – it has a headphone jack that should make most people happy.
Oh, and if you've already invested in USB-C headphones, they still work on the Pixel 3a. Flexibility! Heh.
The fingerprint sensor is located on the back of the phone. I'm a big fan of back-mounted fingerprint sensors, and this one is no exception. In fact, the Pixel Line's reason is why I love back-mounted fingerprint sensors in the first place. And the 3a on the 3a is lightning fast, always works and is just refreshing to use after I've looked at the sensor on the display of the OnePlus 6T, which has been my daily driver for six months. Some things just should not be confused, and the fingerprint sensor on the back of pixel phones is one of them.
Let's take a quick look at the front of the phone. Talk about the display. As with many other aspects of the phone, it is fine . It's not a first-class panel, but it's damnably useful. While it does not have the features you find on a much more expensive phone – high-resolution, very accurate colors, and generally just beautiful – it's probably the best panel you'll find in a phone at this price. And the more often you use it, the more you'll find that you do not mind that it's okay. I certainly did not do it – I loved the display of the 3a because it's a small compromise made in other areas (like software and camera).
If I had a complaint about the design of the 3a from a usability point of view, then with the speakers: not because they sound bad; because bottom firing speakers suck. Always. No matter what. It's so easy to cover them up at the worst and throw the sound in a way that makes no sense at best. But I understand it – it's a $ 400 phone. It's a compromise and not a dealbreaker. And when it comes down to it, they sound pretty good – you know, if you do not accidentally cover them up.
Update: After publication of the review I realized that the earphone is also a speaker. This did not work properly during the writing of the review (I'm not sure why), but must have been fixed by a reboot. However, after further testing, I can confirm that the earphone is a speaker, drastically reducing the noise caused by ground-based speakers.
As with the other specifications, here you go:
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
- RAM: 4 GB
- Memory: 64 GB
- Display: 5.6 inch 2220 × 1080 (pixel 3a); 6-inch 2160 × 1080 (3a XL)
- Cameras: 12.2 MP rear, 8 MP front
- Connectors: USB-C, 3.5-mm Headphone Jack
- Headphone Jack: Yes!
- Battery: 3,000 mAh (pixel 3a); 3700 mAh (3a XL)
- Fingerprint Sensor: Rear Mounted
- Carrier Compatibility: All major vehicles:
- Colors: Just Black, Clear white, violet
- Price: 399 USD (Pixel 3a); $ 479 (3a XL)
Sure, these are not the hottest specifications on the market right now. But that's not to be – this is a $ 400 phone for the mid-market. It is a cheaper competitor of the iPhone XR and the Galaxy S10e.
The pixel's hardware tradeoffs to achieve the lower price are all meaningful. The display is not the best in class, but it's still good. The processor is not the fastest, but does the job. It has a plastic shell instead of more "premium" materials. And while most decisions are okay, lack of water resistance is a huge blow. Currently, this is not a premium feature, but a necessary one. It's probably the only thing I would change at the 3a.
Before we continue with the performance, let's discuss the size for the second. The 3a is a good-sized phone – the 5.6-inch 18.5: 9 display offers a simple bag and great one-hand experience. Although I know and respect that some people prefer massive phones, I think the Pixel 3a is the best sized phone I've used in a long time. So good.
Software and performance: Pixel Android is the best Android
If you know something about standard Android, then you know that there's a universal truth here: it's the purest Get the version of Android you can get. It is Google's Android device, which is free of the approaches of manufacturers such as Samsung. It's Android as intended.
And while Android in stock is free to download and use by any manufacturer, there are certain things Google is doing to make the pixel special. Things that other Android phones can not access, such as call screening – the feature that lets you hear what a caller wants without having to pick up – and camera enhancements, for example.
But those are the things Pixel phones are worth buying, because once you've used something like call screening, it's hard to do without. Damn, this one feature makes the whole phone almost worth it. It's a game changer. The same is true for call spam filtering.
Pixel Android – not Stock Android – is about these little things. The little details that make life easier. Refinements of the call process, the ability to capture a great picture without knowing how can capture a great picture. What makes Pixel Android so great is the software. The operating system of Pixels is the most personal version of Android. It should make life much easier.
However, since I am a longtime pixel user, I knew what to expect from this experience. What I was not sure about in the 3a was the performance. It is a medium range handset. In this case, it has a medium-range processor. Android has proven to be a crap on mid-range and lower-end hardware, and I have to admit that I had some concerns about how well the 3a would fare.
The good news is that at least in the time I had the phone, the performance was fine! It's by no means a speed demon – I can feel the difference in switching between the OnePlus 6T and the 3a, but it's not enough to avoid using the 3a. And after a short time (at most a few hours), I did not notice the difference anymore.
It's true that performance nuances are not even easy to pinpoint – there is no way to quantify the difference when it comes to feeling. Sure, there are benchmarks, but that's just a number that can not be directly translated to a real application. It just is not like that.
But I digress. The point is that I was pleasantly surprised by the 3a's performance, especially by a beast like the 6T. The transition went smoothly and I would have no qualms if I recommended the 3a to everyone (and everyone!), Regardless of which phone they're using.
The only part of the switch that is a pain, however, turns on the gesture navigation of the 3a. Like the Pixel 3, Android Pie on the 3a uses the cumbersome and irritating new gesture system, which, in simple terms, is half-hearted and poorly executed – and there's no built-in way to change it. (However, there is a workaround for experienced users who use ADB.)
The good news is that Google seems to be using the gesture system of iOS rips ever – in Android Q, which is the navigation problem should fix the pixels of the current generation.
Battery life: It will take you through a day
That's me I've written and tested Android devices for a long time, and I remember exactly how difficult it is was to talk about the battery life because she was miserable. Android has come a long way since those days, and the battery life on most cell phones is now pretty good.
The Pixel 3a is no exception to this rule – the battery life is solid. I would not say that it is extraordinary, but it will easily bring you through a day (and much more!). I'm a pretty heavy phone user, especially when I'm checking a device and testing battery life, and I've been able to get around five hours of screen-on-battery time. When I sat in the car and connected to Android Auto, a few "bump" complaints were triggered, but otherwise this was just a normal use.
Simply put, it should not be a big problem to solve a problem day with the pixel 3a, even under heavy use.
Camera: Fine Wine for a Beer Budget
Let's face it, if there's a reason to buy a Pixel 3a, then that's it. Pixels have the reputation of being excellent cameras, and the 3a carries them Award as a decoration. To put it as simply as possible: To find a comparable camera, you need to spend at least twice the cost of the Pixel 3a. This is basically the pixel 3. But at this price, the camera is undeniable.
] The Pixel 3a does not have the best camera hardware which is great – Google can otherwise use mediocre hardware and make it great thanks to its incredible post-processing software. As I said earlier, the software makes the experience on a pixel phone, and the camera software is a big part of what this means.
Left: Without night vision; Right: with night vision
Some additional examples:
Conclusion: A fantastic camera on a good phone
You may have already figured this out, but the pixel 3a (and extension, the 3a XL) is the best mid range handset you can buy – otherwise nothing comes close. There may be cell phones near this price range with better screens or even better hardware. But none of them can come close to the experience of Pixel . If you've ever owned a pixel, you already know what I'm talking about – between the small touches in the software and the crazy camera changes, it's just an unprecedented thought-provoking experience.
And if you've never owned a pixel, the 3a is a great way to dip your toes into the water. It is not a flagship that breaks the wallet, but a middle-class phone with the most important features. It's a win-win situation (and a better value than Pixel 3 in total).
If you are the fence, this is not the case. If you are looking for your next cell phone and you want it for a little money then this is the place.
Here's what we like
- Unparalleled value
- Outstanding camera
- Excellent battery life
And what we do not
- No sealing
- The gesture navigation is bad