Google has just launched its newest additions to the Pixel series today, the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL (read our review). They were designed as a mid-range, and more affordable, alternative to the Pixel 3. The Pixel 3a costs S$659, while the Pixel 3a XL costs S$779, a big decrease from the Pixel 3 which costs S$1,249.
To bring the price of the Pixel 3a down by as much as they did, Google definitely made a few adjustments to the Pixel 3a. Here’s a look at the new additions and adjustments Google has made to their newest Pixel device, as well as what Google has removed to help reduce the cost of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.
Unlike the Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL both sport 3.5mm headphone jacks. While this might seem like good news, and it definitely is, it’s best not to expect the headphone jack to make a similar appearance on the Pixel 4 as Google has explained that the reason a headphone jack can be found on the Pixel 3a has to do with market demographic. As Google sees it, customers who purchase the Pixel 3a will be less likely to have a Bluetooth headphone, and so they felt that it was important to include a headphone jack on the Pixel 3a.
Aside from the traditional Just Black and Clearly White colour that the previous Pixel phones came in, the Pixel 3a will come in a new colour called ‘Purple-ish’. If you are wondering what is Purple-ish, it is exactly that. It’s not purple, it is just ‘Purple-ish’. This translate to a soft and extremely light lavender colour on the Pixel 3a, with a neon-yellow power button. The lavender is so light that it can be mistaken for white. The Purple-ish colour is only really obvious when placed against objects that are actually white.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL use a Snapdragon 670 CPU processor which is a definite downgrade from the more powerful Snapdragon 845 processor in the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Aside from the Pixel 3a having half the number of high-performance CPU cores (two) than the Pixel 3, it also uses the Adreno 615 GPU which makes the Pixel 3a unsuitable for any intensive gaming. No more running Fortnite on ‘high’ settings.
Lower Resolution Display & No Gorilla Glass
The Pixel 3a comes with an OLED FHD+ display compared to the UHD OLED display on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Though the Pixel 3a comes with reduced resolution, it is frankly not noticeable when in use. Furthermore, both Pixel 3a models use Dragontrail Glass instead of the sturdier Corning’s Gorilla Glass. While the Dragontrail is definitely cheaper, it is still difficult to know how well it’ll stack up against the latest iteration of Gorilla Glass.
Unlike the Pixel 3 and 3 XL which was made from glass, both on the front and the back, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL use a polycarbonate backing. Though it might sound a little less premium than the Pixel 3, it actually has several benefits. For one, the Pixel 3a is a lot less fragile than the Pixel 3, and the plastic backing makes the Pixel 3a substantially lighter than the Pixel 3, making it more resistant to impact when it is dropped. That aside, at a glance it is actually pretty difficult to distinguish the Pixel 3 from the Pixel 3a.
No Front Facing Speakers On The Bottom
The speakers on the Pixel 3a fire predominantly from the bottom, and while they function perfectly fine as speakers, they are no replacement from the front-facing stereo speakers on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
That’s right, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL will not work on Google’s very own Pixel Stand, or any other wireless charging devices.
Unlimited Original Quality Google photos
With the Pixel 3a, users will only have unlimited Google Photos uploads in high quality, not original quality. While this is not a huge deal, as you can always transfer your file via a USB cable, this service is Google’s way of making sure that their premium phones still retain some exclusive Google services.
Wide Angle Selfie Camera
A much-loved feature of the Pixel 3 is not available on the Pixel 3a. While it does not have a wide angle selfie camera, the pixel 3a and 3a XL does have a relatively wide 84-degree field of view on their selfie camera, compared to the 75 and 97-degree front camera on the Pixel 3.
Much like most other phones in the price range, Google has chosen to forgo having a water and dust resistance rating for the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. Google also does not recommend dropping the phone in the toilet which probably means that the 3a will not survive being submerged for any length of time.
One way Google took to save money on the Pixel 3a was to not provide any headphones in the box that came with the phone. You can always get a headphone for your Pixel 3a elsewhere!
Additional Storage Options
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are only available in a single storage configuration, at 64GB. Both phones also come with 4GB of RAM.