The mid-range Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL were just announced at Google I/O 2019
Over a year in the making, Google is finally launching mid-range Pixel phones. Seven months after the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were announced, two new members are joining the family. We’ve been hearing about the mid-range Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL for a while now, and after a downpour of leaks, they have finally been made official today at Google I/O 2019.
Pixel 3a/Pixel 3a XL Specifications
|Specs||Pixel 3a||Pixel 3a XL|
|Display||5.6-inches, 2220 x 1080, gOLED, 441 ppi, 18.5:9||6-inches, 2160 x 1080, gOLED, 402 ppi, 18:9|
|Size||151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm, 147g||160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2 mm, 167g|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 670||Qualcomm Snapdragon 670|
|GPU||Adreno 615||Adreno 615|
|Battery Capacity||3,000 mAh||3,700 mAh|
|Fast Charging||Yes, 18W||Yes, 18W|
|Biometrics||Rear fingerprint scanner||Rear fingerprint scanner|
|Water and Dust Resistance||n/a||n/a|
|Software||Android 9 Pie (Android Q soon)||Android 9 Pie (Android Q soon)|
|Colors||Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish||Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish|
Specs are always an important part of the story, but they are especially important for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. What will you be sacrificing for the lower price? First and foremost, these devices are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670, 4GB of RAM, and they have 64GB of storage. Performance should be decent considering the 4GB of RAM is actually the same as the high-end Pixel 3 phones.
The displays are not much smaller than the original Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch display and the Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch display. Battery capacity is slightly bigger with the 3a coming it at 3,000 mAh while the 3a XL is at 3,700 mAh. You’re still getting a rear fingerprint scanner, plus the addition of the 3.5mm headphone jack will make people happy. Overall, the usual sacrifices for mid-range devices can be found here.
Pixel 3a/3a XL Design
Pixel 3a – Clearly White
Unsurprisingly, the design of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL has a lot in common with their older siblings. They have the familiar two-toned back that has become a staple of the Google Pixel line. Button placement is also exactly the same as the Pixel 3/3 XL. The devices have the usual single rear camera and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner as well. On the front, there is no gigantic notch to be found this time. The Pixel 3a series features substantial top and bottom bezels.
Pixel 3a XL – Just Black
Color-wise, there are three options: Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish. The white model features an orange power button, whereas the white Pixel 3 had a green power button. Purple-ish sports a yellow power button. It’s a very muted shade of purple, reminiscent of the Not Pink color. All in all, the design is exactly what you would expect from a mid-range version of the Pixel 3.
Something we didn’t mention in the specifications section is the camera. This has become the defining feature of the Pixel series and Google did not skimp out for the Pixel 3a devices. They feature a 12.2MP Dual Pixel camera on the rear and 8MP camera on the front. You get all the features that make the Google Camera so great: Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Super Res Zoom, and more including the new Time Lapse feature. This is a huge selling point for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. Camera performance is something that mid-range devices usually struggle with. Sadly, Google will only offer unlimited Google Photos storage in high quality, unlike the original quality storage that the first 3 generations of Pixel devices got.
Some other high-end features that have been brought over include Active Edge “squeeze for Google Assistant,” unlimited Google Photos storage, Call Screen, and 3 years of security and OS updates. The Pixel 3a (and all Pixel devices) is also getting an early preview of AR in Google Maps. These may seem like little things, but they will go a long way towards making the Pixel 3a feel like a full-blown Pixel 3. Software support is an especially important thing to have on a mid-range phone. The moral of the story here is the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL may be cheaper, but they are still 100% Google phones through and through.
The big story here is, at least in terms of software, the Pixel 3a has all the same features you get on the high-end Pixel 3. This is not a nerfed version of Android Pie. You’re getting Adaptive Battery, Digital Wellbeing, Duo integration in the dialer, Google Lens, Now Playing, and all the gestures. However, due to hardware limitations, Daydream VR won’t be supported.
Pricing & Availability
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we can talk about pricing. Since the first rumor of a mid-range Pixel popped up, people have been saying “it needs to be priced right.” There are many opinions out there about what is a good price in this category. The Pixel 3a will cost $399, while the Pixel 3a XL will cost $479. That’s almost exactly half of the Pixel 3’s original prices. Is that competitive enough?
The phone will be available on Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Google Fi in the US, and globally in Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, India, Japan, Taiwan, France, Ireland, Singapore, and the UK.
Update 1: Added information on Google Photos unlimited high-quality storage.
Update 2: Added information on the lack of Daydream VR support.