Google Pixel 3a XL Review

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Introduction

After launching the Google Pixel 3 lineup in October, the search engine giant decided to follow the footsteps of its early Nexus devices. The smartphone maker finally decided to introduce affordable Pixel devices, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL, expanding its portfolio in India. 

 

In order to keep the price down, Google used a slower processor and fewer premium materials on its new Pixel devices. Fortunately, the camera performance remained the same and you should be able to get the same picture quality from the affordable and high-end Pixel devices. 

 

We have already reviewed the Pixel 3a and you should definitely check it out. Is the Pixel 3a XL the device you should spend your money on? We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks in order to answer you. Check out what we think of Pixel 3a XL in this comprehensive review of ours.

Price in India, Variants, and Availability

Google Pixel 3a XL comes in a single storage variant featuring a 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Like Pixel 3a, the XL variant also comes in the same color variants namely Just Black and Clearly White. The device is available for purchase exclusively via Flipkart at a price of INR 44,999. 

 

With the purchase of this device, Google is offering three months of YouTube Premium subscription for free. Flipkart, on the other hand, is also offering a limited time period of 10% off to up to INR 4,000 on all prepaid transactions. In addition, you can also avail no-cost EMI on all major credit and debit card transactions. 

Box Contents

As expected, the Pixel 3a XL comes packed in a premium white colored box with the phone’s photo on the front and company’s branding on top. After opening the box, you’ll see the smartphone itself laying on its back, wrapped in plastic. 

 

Underneath the device, there is a small square section that consists of some booklets, SIM ejector tool, and ‘TeamPixel’ stickers. There are a USB Type-C cable and 18W superfast charging adapter.

 

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll be getting inside the box: 

 

– Google Pixel 3a XL handset

– 18W Charger Adapter 

– USB Type-C cable

– SIM ejector tool 

– Reading Manuals

Specs at a Glance

Before we jump right into our detailed review, let’s have a quick glance at the specs that Pixel 3a XL brings to the table. 

 

Display: 6.0-inch OLED, 1080×2160 pixels 

– Processor: Snapdragon 670 (10nm) 

RAM & ROM: 4GB and 64GB 

Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.8 

Selfie Camera: 8MP, f/2.0 

Battery: 3700mAh capacity 

Software: Android 9.0 Pie 

Weight: 167g 

Dimensions: 160.1×76.1×8.2 mm 

 

With it key specifications out, let’s take a look at the first aspect of the device – Design and Build.

Design and Build

One of the major differences between the Pixel 3a lineup and Pixel 3 lineup is the build quality. In order to keep the price down, Google compromised on the material used for the phone. The device makes use of plastic material on the back, which surprisingly feels kind of premium. 

 

Google somehow manages to deliver premium in-hand feel, even though the device is made of plastic. The XL variant, on the other hand, is slightly bigger thanks to the big display on the front. The device is still comfortable and has a solid grip.

 

At the back, you will see the same two-tone design, which is very popular in the Pixel lineup. The bottom half uses a matte finish while the top half uses a glossy finish. There is a single rear camera along with an LED flash and a fingerprint sensor in the middle. 

 

On the front, there is a 6-inch OLED display with thick bezels on top and bottom. The front of the device looks exactly as that of Pixel 3. Those thick bezels do eat up a lot of real estates, which is something very rare in the smartphones. Thankfully, there is no ugly rectangular notch. In fact, there is no notch or punch-hole cut out at all. Due to this, the device looks really outdated in 2019.

 

It’s time to rejoice! The 3.5-mm headphone jack is resurrected with the new Pixel 3a-lineup and it can be found at the top. At the bottom, there is a speaker and a USB Type-C port for charging. The power button comes with the orange accent which we seem to like very much. 

 

Even though it is an affordable Pixel device, it still looks and feels premium to me. The in-hand feel, no doubt, is on par. Although the competitors are offering everything latest (be it design and whatnot), this is something which you’ll have to ignore if you want Pixel cameras.

 

With that said, I have very few complaints when it comes to the design of new Pixel 3a XL. With all the smartphones offering punch-hole display and larger real estate, Google Pixel 3a XL made us feel that we’re using an outdated phone and getting used to that took us a little time. Those thick bezels might be a deal-breaker for many.

Display

Google Pixel 3a XL features a 6.0-inch gOLED panel, which offers an impressive viewing experience. The color accuracy, brightness, and sharpness – everything is at par. The viewing angles are very impressive, too. 

 

With Full HD+ display having a resolution of 2160×1080 pixels, Pixel 3a XL has an impressive brightness level to give you an amazing experience. Although the resolution is low, compared to the competitors, Pixel 3a XL still delivers a bright and vivid display in which watching a movie has been a pleasant experience.

 

Of course, the phone lags with its competitors in terms of sharpness and detail but still, the overall display experience was brilliant. The sunlight legibility is also on point. You also get Always On Display feature, which has always been a favorite display feature of many since we’re able to control music or see basic information on the screen itself.

Performance

Apart from design and display, Google has also used a weaker processor in order to make it an affordable smartphone. The Pixel 3a XL runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage. 

 

The Snapdragon 670 chipset is manufactured using 10 nm fabrication process having eight cores – 2x Kryo 360 Gold cloaked at 2.0GHz and 6x Kyro 360 Silver clocked at 1.7GHz. For gaming, the processor is paired with the Adreno 615 GPU. 

 

Coming to the real-time performance, the Snapdragon 675 is not that powerful chipset. In fact, it lags behind some mid-range chipset like Snapdragon 675 and Snapdragon 710. There are phones that offer much better chipsets at half the price of Pixel 3a XL. 

 

In fact, you would see stutters and lags under heavy multitasking and graphics-demanding games. Even though PUBG Mobile runs at max settings by default, occasional frame drops are noticeable. In moderate usage, the phone works flawlessly with no hiccups.

 

RAM management takes a hit since the app doesn’t stay for longer periods which is something we were expecting with this device.  

 

Overall, the performance is something which is not exceptional. A heavy user might not like what Pixel 3a XL offers in the performance department. Well, that’s something that you’ll have to compromise on in order to get a Pixel UI and insane cameras.

Software

Google Pixel 3a XL runs on the latest version of Android, i.e. Android 9.0 Pie, based on the Pixel UI. Apart from OxygenOS, Pixel UI is the only impressive software available for an Android smartphone. The UI offers clean, minimal, and uncluttered software experience.

 

It offers stock Android experience with the swipe-up app drawer, pull-down notification menu, and pill navigation. Google has optimized the software in various ways that result in a smoother experience. You also get various Pixel features that do nothing but enhance the experience much more. 

 

There are all the Android Pie features, including Adaptive Battery, Night Mode, and Digital Wellbeing. Not just that, it also has Active Edge that lets you call Google Assistant just by squeezing on the sides of the phone. In short, you get all the Pixel features that are present in high-end Pixel devices. 

 

On top of this, Google offers unlimited cloud storage on the device, which can solve the low storage problem on Pixel 3a XL.

Cameras

Moving to the optics, Google Pixel 3a XL comes with the same 12.2MP rear camera sensor as the one present on the high-end Pixel 3. For selfies, the phone has 8MP front snapper with an aperture of f/2.0.

 

Pixel devices have always been ahead of the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei in terms of photography. That is largely due to the company’s insane image processing technique. Every single picture that comes out of the Pixel device looks impressive with brilliant details, high exposure, and wide dynamic range. 

 

Pixel devices are already killing the competitors in low-light photography; thanks to the company’s very effective Night Mode. Selfies taken from the device also look exceptional. In fact, you would not be able to tell the difference between Pixel 3a-lineup and Pixel 3 devices in terms of imaging. 

 

Like the pictures, Google Pixel 3a XL also nails the video recording aspect with an amazing level of details, brilliant sharpness, and proper stabilization. The only major difference you will see between the two extreme ends of Pixel devices is the speed of image processing. 

 

Since the Pixel 3a XL comes with just 4 GB of RAM and a weaker processor, the device takes time to click photos and process them. This is something you’ll have to face if you purchase this device.

Battery Life

Google Pixel 3a XL comes with a larger 3,700mAh battery cell coupled with the support of 18W fast charger. Thanks to the low-resolution display and Adaptive Battery feature, the device is able to keep up with you for an entire day. 

 

In our heavy usage, we only charged the smartphone once in the morning and it was able to last till the night. Our daily usage looks something like this – WiFi and Bluetooth always on, medium brightness most of the time, couple sessions of PUBG Mobile, constant text messaging, heavy music playback and 2 to 3 hours of video playback.

 

As mentioned earlier, the device supports 18W fast charging. You’ll be able to get 7 hours of device usage with just 15 minutes of charging time. Sadly, there is no wireless charging on this device.

Audio, Biometrics, and Connectivity

For audio, the Pixel 3a XL comes with front-firing stereo speakers with perfectly fine output. The speakers could have been louder in our opinion but the good thing here is that the audio doesn’t distort at full volume. Plus, you also get a 3.5-mm headphone jack that also works perfectly fine with high-quality output.

 

There is a fingerprint sensor at the back which can unlock your device very quickly. There is no hiccup with the fingerprint reader and it is fairly fast, accurate and very much reliable. You also get Face Unlock, which is not that secure but still works very quick. 

 

As far as connectivity is concerned, Pixel 3a XL comes with all the standard features like dual-band WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB Type-C port for charging. The Bluetooth supports A2DP, aptX HD, and LE to give you high-quality audio over wireless connectivity. The device also comes with NFC support for mobile payment and one-tap pairing requests.

Pros and Cons

Pros

 

– Insane cameras 

– Best Android software 

– Fastest software updates 

– Impressive battery life 

 

Cons

 

– Mediocre chipset 

– Limited amount of storage 

– Speakers could have been louder

Verdict

For someone who wants the insane cameras and fluid software at an affordable price, Google Pixel 3a XL can be the best smartphone. Surely, you will have to compromise on performance, display, and build quality. In our opinion, the only downside of getting a Pixel 3a XL is the weaker chipset that a moderate user can definitely ignore. The fact that Pixel is offering its flagship cameras on an affordable device is quite attractive. The thing which might keep you from buying this device is its Indian pricing. Google, for some reason, messed it all up for the Indian market with its higher pricing. At this price, the device competes with the likes of Galaxy S10e which comes with a slew of features like wireless charging, modern design, best display, and powerful hardware. Again, Google Pixel 3a XL is meant for those users who only need cameras and solid software experience. If you can ignore the price tag and can compromise on performance, then you can certainly join the Team Pixel.