Since the last two years, Google has been focusing on the high-end flagship devices with its Pixel lineup. The search engine giant now decided to expand its portfolio to mid-range by launching an affordable Pixel device.
Launched at Google IO 19, Google Pixel 3a is an affordable variant of the bigger Pixel 3. As expected, the device also comes in the XL variant. Google Pixel 3a shares tons of features from its elder Pixel 3 device. For instance, it comes with the same cutting-edge camera and Active Edge squeeze function.
I have been using the Pixel 3a smartphone for a couple of weeks now. It did manage to impress with its impressive camera module but what about the rest of the aspects? Let’s find that out in our comprehensive review of Pixel 3a.
Price in India, Variants, and Availability
Google Pixel 3a comes in a single storage variant featuring a 4GB RAM and a 64GB onboard memory. The device is available in three color options namely Just Black, Clearly White and Purple-ish. Coming to the price, the device is up for grabs exclusively via Flipkart for INR 39,999.
At the time of writing this review, there are plenty of offers on the smartphone. Google has partnered with ICICI Bank to offer a 5% Instant Discount up to INR 1,250 on credit and debit transactions. Also, there is a limited period extra 10% off up to INR 4,000 on prepaid orders. With Pixel 3a, you will also get a three-month subscription of YouTube Premium for free.
Like its other Pixel devices, Google Pixel 3a comes packed in a premium white box with the device’s photo on the front. You will also see Google branding as well as the name of the device written on top. Opening the box, the first thing which you’ll see the device itself laying there nicely.
There is a sweet little section inside the box which contains documentation, SIM ejector tool, and a ‘TeamPixel’ sticker. At the bottom, there is a USB Type-C cable, USB Type-C OTG adapter and a fast 18W charger. Since the device comes with a 3.5-mm headphone jack, Google decided to throw in a pair of in-ear headphones.
Here is a quick overview of what you’ll be getting inside the box:
– Google Pixel 3a handset
– 18W fast charger
– USB Type-C cable
– In-ear headphones
– Type-C OTG adapter
– SIM ejector tool
– Manuals and other reading material
Specs at a Glance
Before we jump right into our detailed review, let’s have a look at us what Pixel 3a brings to the table first.
– Display: 5.6-inch gOLED, 2220×1090 pixels
– Processor: Snapdragon 670
– RAM & ROM: 4GB, 64GB
– Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.8
– Selfie Camera: 8MP, f/2.0
– Battery: 3,000mAh
– Software: Android 9 Pie
– Price: INR 39,990
With key specs of the device cleared, let’s take a look at the design and build of the device.
Design and Build Quality
As mentioned earlier, Google Pixel 3a shares the various aspect of the elder and bigger Pixel 3 smartphone. Of course, there is a difference in the material used to tone down the price. The Pixel 3a smartphone comes with a polycarbonate body or you can say unibody plastic casing.
Even though the device uses plastic, it still feels sturdy and premium. In fact, you would not be able to tell the difference between the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 in terms of build.
The back of the Pixel 3a device looks exactly like that of Pixel 3 with a two-tone finish. The device has a matte finish on the bottom half and the glossy finish on the upper part. Pixel 3a doesn’t come with a glass back which is understandable considering it is an affordable take of the brand. I would say Google has done an excellent job with this device in this segment.
The phone feels sturdy, unlike other smartphones which scratch easily. In my daily usage, I didn’t notice any kind of scratches on the back but it is still advisable that you use a case.
The back has a slight curve on the edges giving you comfortable in-hand feel. There is a single camera on the back along with an LED flash and a physical fingerprint sensor. In fact, even the color options are exactly the same as that of main Pixel 3-lineup. Personally, I like the Just Black because of the matte finish which looks very sturdy. The device is on the smaller and compact size perfect for those who prefer one-hand usage.
On the front, there is a 5.6-inch OLED display panel which, unlike Pixel 3, doesn’t have any Corning Gorilla protection. Instead, the device makes use of Asahi’s Dragontrail glass on the front which also feels decent in my opinion. Again, I would suggest you use protection if scratches bother you that much.
Another key difference in the Pixel 3a is the presence of a 3.5-mm headphone jack. It’s been a long time since Pixel smartphone has seen an audio jack. On the right side, there is a volume rocker as well as the Power button. Like Pixel 3, the power button comes with an orange accent which I really really like and would love to see it in more smartphones.
The headphone jack sits there on the top like a lone wolf while the USB Type-C port can be found at the bottom along with speaker grilles.
Thankfully, Pixel 3a doesn’t come with the hideous notch which we’ve seen in the Pixel 3XL. Instead, the device comes with thick bezels on all the side. It still looks outdated considering you can get almost bezel-less experience at this price point. The reason why bezel is still present on the device could be due to the presence of the front-firing speaker.
Due to the audio jack, Google decided to shift one front speaker at the bottom. I wouldn’t mind this since we’re getting an audio jack in return.
Overall, the build quality of Pixel 3a seems premium with sturdy and solid in-hand feel. The thing which disappoints me the most is those thick bezels on the front and absence of IP68 rating & wireless charging which for many would be a deal-breaker.
Google Pixel 3a features a much smaller 5.6-inch gOLED display which delivers sharp and crisp experience. There is still no information about the gOLED panel and how it is different from the regular OLED panels. With 2220×1080 pixels resolution, the screen delivers punchy colors, deep blacks, and excellent viewing angles.
You also get an Always-On display feature with this device which is always a nifty addition in my opinion. Unlike other devices, the Always-On display doesn’t consume that much battery on this device which is something I noticed in my daily usage. When compared with the Pixel 3 XL, I did notice improvements in the viewing angles on the smaller Pixel 3a device.
The OLED panels have always performed better than the IPS LCD screen and this device is no exception here. You would love consuming content on this device with enough brightness level to give you an immersive experience. Even the sunlight legibility on this phone is up to the mark and I don’t have any complaints apart from the outdated design of this device.
Under the hood, Pixel 3a is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The Snapdragon 670 is fabricated over a 10nm manufacturing process and consists of eight cores. The SoC has 2x Kryo Gold cores clocked at 2.0GHz and 6x Kryo 360 Silver cores clocked at 1.7GHz.
The chipset powering this device isn’t the fastest one out there and it will not be able to handle heavy tasks. Google should have gone with Snapdragon 710 chipset instead of the SD 670 in order to make up for the average performance. Surely, there are other smartphones in this price range that comes with powerful chipset like Snapdragon 800-series. The Snapdragon 670 processor even lags behind the SD675 powering the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
In my daily usage, the smartphone was able to handle all the moderate tasks. The apps stayed in memory for a decent amount of time. Pixel 3a struggles when it comes to the heavy multitasking or graphics demanding applications. Pubg Mobile runs on the high settings by default which is good but you’ll face the occasional frame drops.
Surely, Pixel 3a would not give you that snappy performance which other competitors might be offering at this price point. In fact, the smartphone is designed for those who’re looking for exceptional cameras and stock Android experience.
The software is the place where Pixel smartphones have always been performing well giving you a true flagship experience. Like any other Pixel device, the Pixel 3a also comes with the latest version of Android i.e. Android 9.0 Pie based on the Pixel UI.
Pixel devices hs always manage to impress me in the software department. You get all the features in the software which are present in the expensive Pixel lineup.
The pill-based navigation gesture is also present on the device which you’ll really appreciate once you’ll get the hang of it. You also get Android Pie features like Digital Wellbeing and Adaptive battery which seems to work pretty well.
Like the Pixel 3-lineup, this one too comes with Active Edge feature which lets you launch Google Assistant just by squeezing the edges of the device. Google is also offering unlimited storage with the device which would come in handy most of the time.
The overall software experience on the Pixel 3a is brilliant and you can feel the flagship esque which Google always manages to offer in its device. The OxygenOS and Pixel UI are the two top-of-the-line software and you would surely love the experience.
One thing which Pixel devices does way better than any other smartphone is the camera performance. The only reason why Google decided to offer an affordable Pixel device is to bring the flagship camera experience to a much cheaper price. Pixel 3a comes with all the camera features which we’ve seen on the flagship Pixel smartphones.
Google Pixel 3a is equipped with a single 12.2MP sensor at the back having an aperture of f/1.8. For selfies, there is again a single 8MP front snapper with f/2.0 aperture. The Pixel 3a features the same Sony IMX 364 main camera sensor that can also be found on the Pixel 3 device. Ignoring some minor delays in the rendering (due to the mediocre chipset), the cameras on the Pixel 3a is still exceptional.
Pixel 3a can churn out pictures with impressive details, sharpness and amazing dynamic range be it in low-light or daylight conditions. In fact, you would not be able to tell the difference between the camera performance of Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 smartphone.
The camera app is filled with useful features like Night Sight which helps you take well-lit photos in low-light conditions. In fact, the device comes with a new feature called Time Lapse which will let you capture excellent time-lapse videos.
Like photos, Pixel 3a also lets you record videos with exceptional quality. You can record 4K videos at 30 frame rates per second with OIS and EIS stabilizations. In short, Pixel 3a manages to meet all my expectations and the camera performance is incomparable on this device. Google Pixel 3a continues the legacy of flagship Pixel devices in terms of cameras department.
Google Pixel 3a is fueled by a smaller 3000mAh battery capacity which also supports 18W fast charging capabilities. There is nothing to write home about the battery of this device. It’s mediocre with a screen on time of more than 5 hours on this device. The battery life has been pretty decent so far which was expected with the device having this much cell capacity.
As mentioned earlier, the smartphone supports 18W fast charging feature which makes up for the mediocre battery life. With that said, there is nothing more to talk about the battery life on this device.
Audio, Biometrics, and Connectivity
For audio, Pixel 3a comes with front-firing speakers which are fairly loud enough but it surely could have been better. You will be able to notice the compromise in the loudspeaker in order to keep the price low. There is a 3.5-mm headphone jack too through which the audio output is perfectly fine.
There is a physical fingerprint sensor at the back which is fairly fast, accurate and reliable. The device opens up quick with a fingerprint sensor. You can also use the Face Unlock built right into the software which uses the front-selfie camera to map your face. In low-light conditions, the Face Unlock is able to detect my face and unlocks the phone quickly.
Pixel 3a features all the standard connectivity features like dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 and USB Type-C port. For excellent wireless audio, the smartphone is equipped with A2DP, aptX HD, and LE. There is NFC on board too which can be used for mobile payments and one-tap pairing.
Pros and Cons
– Premium build
– Comfortable in-hand feel
– Brilliant OLED display
– Exceptional camera performance
– 3.5-mm headphone jack
– Pixel UI
– Mediocre chipset
– Average battery life
– Outdated design
– Limited internal storage
– Overpriced for the Indian market
Google Pixel 3a is a solid smartphone with exceptional cameras, premium build, brilliant display, and somewhat decent performance. One thing that disappoints me the most is the Indian pricing of the device. Looking at the Indian pricing, it is hard to say that Pixel 3a is an affordable smartphone. No doubt, Pixel 3a is equipped with exceptional cameras and fluid software experience but considering the aggressive Indian smartphone market, it would be hard for Pixel 3a to make its mark.
Pixel 3a comes with outdated design, mediocre performance and average battery life while the competitors are offering phones with way more powerful chipsets, modern design, and larger battery capacity. Pixel 3a, no doubt, is an amazing option in the international market but sadly, the same can no go for India. If you’re the person who needs exceptional camera performance and doesn’t care about value for money, then you can go for the all-new Pixel 3a.
In my personal opinion, I would only recommend this phone if I see any major price drop in the future. Just so you know, the Pixel 3 comes with a price tag of INR 56,840 at the time of writing this review article. Google should have priced the device somewhere around the INR 30,000 mark.
With that said, the device is only meant for those who’re looking for exceptional cameras at the sub 40k price mark. In return, you will have to make a huge compromise on the design, performance and of course the battery life.