Google Pixel 3a Review: Is the cheapest pixel cheap enough?

Google Pixel 3a is the cheapest Pixel you can get as of now, but is the price drop substantial enough?

Pixel 3a
Pixel 3a is small and fits comfortably in the hand.

Google Pixel 3a is the company’s latest offering in its ever-growing Pixel lineup. After departing from the Nexus brand name, the Pixel lineup of smartphones has been what Google uses to showcase Android.

With the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL, the company has released its first mid-range Pixel smartphone devices. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL had to make some significant sacrifices to form the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. However, is the price drop big enough to justify those sacrifices? Let's find out:

Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor. This is coupled with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. There are is no expandable storage option nor a bigger storage variant option, which would be a bummer for some.

Pixel 3a
Google Pixel 3a is the cheapest Pixel smartphone yet.

The device sports a 5.6-inch (2220 x 1080 pixels) 18.5 aspect ratio OLED display. For the optics, it features a single camera set up at the back, consisting of a 12.2-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture main sensor with dual pixel PDAF and optical image stabilization. For selfies, it packs an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture sensor. All of this is backed by a 3,000mAh non-removable battery.

At the first glance, the back looks like the Pixel 3 series which sports a rear glass, but make no mistake the Pixel 3a and the 3a XL sport a plastic back with a matte paint job. It runs Google’s Android 9.0 Pie operating system.

The phone sports a single SIM card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack something the Pixel 3 series is missing, a USB-Type C port and a fingerprint sensor at the back.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Design

Design of the Google Pixel 3a is really good. The back panel is made out of plastic, which is a little disappointing considering its price. But with the matte finished lower back of the device you don't really get the plastic feel. With the price user's are paying, having a plastic back is really disappointing.

Pixel 3a
The OLED panel of the pixel 3a without any notch or camera cutout is quite impressive.

Speaker grille is located above the display, whereas, the 12.2-megapixel front camera is housed inside of the huge top bezel. The bottom of the device also has a big chin, which makes the device looks symmetrical.

Pixel 3a
Pixel 3a sports a dual-tone plastic back panel.

Coming to the back, Google Pixel 3a sports a single camera setup paired with an LED flash aligned horizontally on the top left corner. There is a small camera bump, but nothing that major. The fingerprint sensor located towards the top of the device, which aligns perfectly in a users hands.

Pixel 3a
Right, left, top, bottom in that order

The right edge consists of the volume rockers and an accented power button. The top edge holds the headphone jack and the secondary microphone. The left edge sports only the sim card tray, while the bottom edge has the USB-Type C port along with the speakers.

The primary microphone grille has been made to look a speaker grille giving the phone a symmetrical look.

Overall, the design of Google Pixel 3a feels pretty good. It looks quite subtle, which according to me is a good thing. The back is made out of plastic, which might have been an issue, but the paint job makes the smartphone feel good while using.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Software

The Google Pixel 3a runs the company's own Android 9.0 Pie operating system, it is what is known as the Pixel Experience. The software is optimised and built directly side by side with the Android OS.

Pixel 3a softwre
The stock Android on the Pixel 3a is the best form of Android out there

It is one of the cleanest and the fastest software experiences you will find out there in the Android ecosystem. It has all the bells and whistles of the Android Operating system like the Always listening feature and the call screen feature. It also comes with no bloatware, which is an amazing thing.

Overall, Pixel 3a's software is one of the best in the market as of now.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Performance

Performance is a major area of concern on any device, the same goes for the Google Pixel 3a. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor coupled with an Adreno 615 GPU and 4GB of RAM.

Pixel 3a AnTuTu and Geekbnech
AnTuTu (Left) Geekbench (Right)

We ran our usual benchmark tests to evaluate how the device performs. On AnTuTu the device was able to score 135612, which is great considering the price and competition is a bit low.

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On GeekBench it managed to get a single-core score of 1446 and a multi-core score of 4824. The performance numbers of the device on paper are way low compared to its competition.

While playing light games such as Temple Run and Crossy Chicken, the phone runs flawlessly. Heavy games like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty also run without any hiccup with some minor heating.

Overall, the performance of the Pixel 3a is disappointing compared to the price a user needs to pay.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Display

Google Pixel 3a sports a 5.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2220×1080 pixels and comes with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. The brightness levels are able to get super low and immensely high depending on the situation. The colours are more vibrant and the blacks are great thanks to that OLED panel.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Camera

Google Pixel 3a features a single camera setup on the back. There is a 12.2-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture main sensor with PDAF. For selfies, it packs an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture sensor. I personally would have preferred a wide-angle or a zoom lens in addition but the camera quality is so good I can't even complain.

Images which I took with the rear camera came out extremely good. The images have good details and come out very sharp. The portrait mode is also able to do a very good job. Due to the device being powered by the Snapdragon 670, which is not the greatest of processors, you would have to wait for around 30 seconds for the images to process but the results are well worth it.

Pixel 3a Camera Samples
Normal (Right) vs Portrait (Left)

Coming to the front camera, the story is pretty much the same, low light shots are amazing, the contrast and colour balance is great. It is definitely one of the best camera setups I have found in a smartphone.

Also Read: Top 5 Oppo Reno alternatives: OnePlus 7, Pixel 3a and more

Overall, the single front and rear camera setup are way better than some triple and quad-camera setups on smartphones. If you want a phone dedicated to photography, you won't regret getting the Pixel 3a.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Battery

Pixel 3a
The battery life of the Pixel 3a is not at all impressive.

Google Pixel 3a is backed by a 3,000mAh Li-Po battery, which easily lasts almost a whole day on a single charge. Charging time with the included charger is around 120-150 minutes, which is great. If you are not a heavy user, you can easily make it work till the end of the workday.

We ran PCMark’s Work 2.0 Battery Life test, which subjects the phone to heavy usage and finds out how the battery performs in those conditions. The device yielded a result of 10 hours and 10 minutes, which is adequate in comparison to similar battery capacity smartphones.

Google Pixel 3a Review: Verdict

Pixel 3a
Pixel 3a is not the greatest looking smartphone.

Google Pixel 3a costs Rs. 39,999., for that price the plastic back and a Snapdragon 670 processor is definitely a bummer. You can get the OnePlus 7 for cheaper than that with a glass back and Snapdragon 855, putting the Pixel 3a to shame.

Things like an OLED display and Google's software gives the device an edge over other devices. However, it is not enough to justify the price. That being said, its camera performance crushes the competition.

It relies completely on its camera to sell itself. Unless and until you are a huge camera fanatic, the Pixel 3a is not the smartphone for you. However, with that camera unit and software processing, the device is almost worth it. If it was a little cheaper, the device would have been one of the best camera based smartphone, but its Rs 39,999 price tag is a little hard to digest especially considering the processor.


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