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Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL review: A Pixel for everyone

first_img Shweta Ganjoo New DelhiMay 21, 2019UPDATED: May 23, 2019 09:08 IST 8/10HIGHLIGHTS Earlier this month Google launched Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones.The Google Pixel 3a costs Rs 39,999 in India.The Google Pixel 3a XL costs Rs 44,999 in India.Everything comes at a price. And if it is a flagship smartphone, then the price is very high. So, we are now seeing a new trend. With top-end phone prices soaring high, smartphone market is witnessing the emergence of something new: smartphones in the price range of Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 that offer a premium experience but with some compromises. This trend, on one hand, has encouraged companies like OnePlus to push up upwards and introduce pricier phones like OnePlus 7 Pro with better features, whereas some other phone makers, like Google is doing with the Pixel 3a, have introduced somewhat cut-down down versions of their flagship devices. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, launched at Google I/O 2019 earlier this month, in that way are the less pricier Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL.The newly launched Google Pixel 3a and Google Pixel 3a XL, as one would understand, are the more affordable version of the Google Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel 3 XL, that we reviewed last year and are available in India for Rs 71,000 and Rs 83,000 respectively.Being the younger sibling of the Pixel 3 smartphones that have been lauded for their camera performance means that they are quite similar to the flagship devices. But like I said everything comes with a price. And the price for getting relatively affordable Pixel smartphone, in this case, lies in small sacrifices like the absence of water and dust resistance coating, an older processor and the lack of Corning Gorilla Glass — there is Dragon Glass layer, though — protection among other things. Yet, there is an upside to this. The Pixel 3a smartphones gain the famous 3.5mm jack that went away from the Pixel smartphones two years back with the launch of the Google Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL smartphones.advertisementFirst a quick glance at the top specs of the Pixel 3a smartphones.SpecificationsScreen: 5.6-inch full HD+ gOLED display for Pixel 3a; 6.0-inch full HD+ gOLED display for Pixel 3a XLProcessor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipsetRAM: 4GB RAMStorage: 64GB memoryOperating System: Android 9.0 PieCamera: 12.2MP rear camera with dual pixel phase detection, 8MP front-facing cameraConnectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth 5.0Battery: 3,000mAh with 18W fast charging for Pixel 3a; 3,700mAh with 18W fast charging for Pixel 3a XLLooks like Pixel 3If there is one thing to say about the newly launched Google Pixel 3a smartphones, it is that they look like Pixel 3 smartphones, feel like Pixel 3 smartphones, but they aren’t Pixel 3 smartphone. They look so much similar to the original Pixel 3 smartphones that it is almost impossible to see the differences. Yet, if you take a closer look, you would realise what makes the Pixel 3 smartphones at least 30 grand pricier than their recently hatched, ahem, Pixel 3a siblings. First things first. The Google Pixel 3a smartphone measures 6.0×2.8×0.3 inches and weighs 147g. In contrast, the Pixel 3 measures 5.7×2.7×0.3 inches and it weighs 148g. Similarly, the Pixel 3a XL measures 6.3×3.0x0.3 inches and weighs 167g. In contrast, the Pixel 3 XL measures 6.2×3.0x0.3 inches and it weighs 184g. At the front there is an OLED display, which shows resplendent colours, and at the back there is a dual finish body along with the Google logo, the fingerprint sensor and the single rear camera setup that is characteristic to the premium budget Pixel smartphones. Like I said, nearly indistinguishable.Yet there are subtle differences. The Pixel 3a smartphones come with a plastic back as against the glass back in the Pixel 3 smartphones. While Google has maintained the texture of the design at back and to a naked eye the difference is none, when you take a closer peek or when you feel the Pixel 3a smartphones in your hands, you would understand that the glass body is one of the most important factors that help you distinguish the premium sibling from the mid-budget one.In addition to this, the Pixel 3a smartphones also miss out on the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection (in the front and at the back) and the IP68 dust and water resistant coating that make the Pixel 3 smartphones more resilient and immune to their surroundings. There is tough Dragon Layer glass on the screens of the cheaper Pixels, but usually we see this glass on much more affordable phones.The Pixel 3a smartphones look so much similar to the original Pixel 3 smartphones that it is almost impossible to notice the differences.While these small compromises may make the Pixel 3a smartphones not seem like a perfect suitor, it has one thing that the pricier Pixels lack: the 3.5mm jack. A lot of people still apparently want the jack in their phone, and Google grants this wish by including one in its budget smartphones.advertisementGoodbye notchAs far as the display of the Pixel 3a smartphones is concerned, it is another way you can distinguish the Pixel 3a smartphones from the Pixel 3 smartphones. The Google Pixel 3a comes with a 5.6-inch full HD+ OLED display. On the contrary, the Pixel 3 comes with a 5.5-inch full HD+ OLED display. Similarly, the Pixel 3a XL features a 6.0-inch full HD+ OLED display while the Pixel 3 XL comes with a 6.3-inch full HD+ OLED display. Again, nearly indistinguishable.The difference between the two smartphones is outside the specs. The Google Pixel 3 smartphones, as we all know, embrace the notch trend. They house an earpiece along with a dual front camera setup with 8MP wide-angle and lenses in the front. Contrary to that, the Pixel 3a smartphones show a blatant disregard for the notch as they bring back large bezels on the top and on the bottom – just like more mainstream and cheaper smartphones. The thick bezels on top harbour an earpiece and an 8MP front camera. The display of the Pixel 3a smartphones is bright and well lit, which makes using the phone easy even under the bright Delhi sun. The colours seem natural and they put barely any strain on the eyes even when the brightness is maxed out, all of which account for an comfortable viewing experience.Piece of a PieOne reason you should prefer Google’s Pixel smartphones over any other Android smartphone is the features that are exclusive to its flagship devices and the software, which gets updated as soon as Google rolls out an update to its mobile operating system. This means lesser delays in getting improved functionality, quicker security patches and faster fixation of issues with its mobile OS updates. This is true for the Pixel 3a smartphones as well. The Google Pixel 3a smartphones, just like their elder siblings – the Google Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel 3 XL – come with the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system – Android 9.0 Pie – and the promise of getting the next gen Android OS – Android Q. They also come with some of the Pixel’s characteristic features such as the Now Playing, Active Edge feature for accessing the Google Assistant, display colour modes and the notification dots, which make using Pixel 3a smartphones an absolute delight to use.Then there is the Digital Wellbeing feature that gives you a premium flagship smartphone like experience by giving you a minute-by-minute account of the time that you have spent on various apps. There are also features such as Wind Down, which turns the colours grey depending on your night light schedule and the Flip to Shhh feature, which actives the Do Not Disturb mode when you flip the phone, that make it an ideal fit for anyone.advertisementThe real stunner, however, are the shots captured in the low-light conditions where the colours are absolutely stunning.There is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor inside both the Google Pixel 3a and the Google Pixel 3a XL smartphones, coupled with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage space. While the RAM and storage in the Pixel 3a smartphones is the same as that in the Pixel 3 smartphones, it is a slower processor that waters down the overall Pixel experience, as I like to call it, in the Pixel 3a smartphones. Notably, the fingerprint is fast and I mean really fast (and flawlessly accurate, each time), the overall experience is comparatively cold. You can notice some lag even while clicking the Night Shots, which by the way are uh-mazing. This I presume is because of the processor. Like I had said in the beginning, everything comes with a price. And so it is possible that Google chose to include Snapdragon 670 processor instead of a newer Snapdragon 710 chipset in order to include other premium Pixel-y features while keeping the overall cost under Rs 50,000.Gorgeous night shotsPixel smartphones are known for their camera quality. Google’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithm that is used in the Pixel smartphones is one of the best image processing software in use. It is this software that has helped Google’s premium budget Pixel smartphones race ahead of the competition at a time when smartphones with a triple rare camera setup have become a norm. Google brings the same technological prowess that powers its pricier Pixel devices to its budget Pixel 3a devices.Both the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL come with a 12.2MP rear camera with Sony IMX363 sensor – the same one that is inside the Google Pixel 3 smartphones. On the front, the two smartphones sport an 8MP camera. Camera specs aside, the new Pixel 3a smartphones, just like their pricier siblings, produce some amazing insta-worthy shots. In the images captured in the indoor lighting conditions, the new Pixels capture images in clarity and vibrancy that is devoid of noise or distortion. Similar is the case for the images captured in the outdoor lighting where the newly launched Pixel devices capture natural colours.The images captured in indoor light using the front camera too carry the same clarity. However, the images captured by the Pixel 3a smartphones carry a subtle tone. So, if you like your images to be extra bright you will have to make the necessary adjustments.IMAGE SAMPLESThe real stunner, however, are the shots captured in the low-light conditions where the colours are gorgeous. The colours are brightened – thanks to Google’s image processing algorithm – with no noise and a slight flare. The overall images look balanced and bright. The only issue I noticed is that of the camera lag while processing images, especially the ones captured in low light condition. It takes 1-2 seconds to capture and process images in the low-light conditions. Sometimes, cloudy weather conditions too can increase the image capturing and processing time, but barring that the camera works flawlessly.Long live the king… oops …PixelBattery is to a smartphone what fuel is to a car. A smartphone with a bigger battery and more efficient battery management system can last for longer durations and ensure that your smartphone doesn’t run out of juice when you need it the most. The Google Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL smartphones that were launched earlier this month fare well in this department.The Google Pixel 3a comes with a 3,000mAh battery while the Pixel 3a XL comes with a bigger 3,700mAh battery. Once completely charged, the Pixel 3a XL can go without juice for almost two days under normal conditions. This means that you can scroll through Instagram, respond to WhatsApp messages, make your calls and watch addictive food videos on Facebook and your Pixel 3a XL smartphone will support you for a time close to two days. When drained completely, the Pixel 3a XL goes from 0 to 39 per cent in 30 minutes. This means that if you are low on battery, a 30 minutes of charge can easily get you home. It takes the smartphone nearly 2 hours to charge completely.Should you buy Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL?Absolutely yes, if you want a phone with great camera. The newly launched Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones offer the very best of the original Pixel 3 smartphones at a considerably low price. They have a design that is deceivingly similar to the Pixel 3 smartphones and key ‘Pixel-y’ features such as Active Edge, Now Playing and Digital Wellbeing that work flawlessly. They also offer a fantastic camera experience that is close to flagship Pixel phones. And the best of all, even though they are a bit pricey, they don’t cost a fortune like the Pixel 3 smartphones.True, there are some sacrifices to be made — no water resistance — but like I had said in the beginning of this review, some compromises can be tolerated if in return you are getting the Pixel experience under Rs 50,000. So, if you are comfortable with ignoring what is missing, the Google Pixel 3a and the Google Pixel 3a XL are a total catch!Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL review8/10ProsLong BatteryGreat cameraPixel softwareConsNo IP ratingPlastic bodyOld CPUGet real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byShweta Ganjoo Tags :Follow GoogleFollow Google Pixel 3aFollow Google Pixel 3a xl Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL review: A Pixel for everyoneThe newly launched Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones offer the very best of the original Pixel 3 smartphones at a considerably low price.advertisement Nextlast_img read more