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The Google Pixel 3a is an invitation to enjoy one of the best cameras that you will find on any cell phone in the market and at a reasonable price.
With its price of (Check on Amazon.com), there is no cell phone that manages to offer such a great camera, plus it is not easy to find a rival that offers the overall Pixel 3a experience at that price.
In addition, the phone retains many of the things we liked most about the Pixel 3 (Check on Amazon.com) and Pixel 3 XL (Check on Amazon.com), while adding a traditional headphone jack, eliminating a few features and reducing its price considerably.
For example, the Pixel 3a will be the first smartphone that will be updated to Android Q, it also allows Google Assistant to answer your unwanted calls, has Google Maps navigation in augmented reality (AR) and will surely also be one of the first to receive the most important updates from Android – it would surely be the first to receive the Live Caption feature when Google presents the Pixel 4.
The biggest shortcomings of the Pixel 3a [and the Pixel 3a XL (Check on Amazon.com)], lie in the design, where they fall behind several competitors since even budget devices such as the Moto G7 look and feel more premium, despite costing less (Check on Amazon.com).
In general, for its price of (Check on Amazon.com), the Pixel 3a is an excellent option that achieves a good balance of specifications, user experience, and price, while receiving one of the best cameras you’ll find on a phone.
Compared to the Pixel 3a XL, I consider the Pixel 3a a better option, because it has less competition and offers virtually the same experience for less.
Google Pixel 3a – Design
Google phones do not have the most beautiful designs and the Pixel 3a is no exception.
While the back feels good in the hand and looks relatively attractive, the front has large bezels and its plastic feel makes it fall behind cheaper phones like the Moto G7.
The back is almost the same as the one on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The rest of the body is soft and attracts fewer fingerprints. There is also a fingerprint reader and a single camera.
However, that back is plastic and not glass. Although the front is covered with glass and the screen manages to offer great detail and very vibrant colors, the Pixel 3a looks – and feels – inferior to other cell phones.
Despite the large bezels, the Pixel 3a doesn’t feature stereo speakers like the Pixel 2 XL (Check on Amazon.com) and Pixel 2 (Check on Amazon.com), instead, the main speaker rests on the bottom edge and the headset doubles as a secondary speaker. The sound is pleasant but it can’t reach the volume of the Pixel 3 or other cell phones such as the Galaxy S10 Plus.
At the top, the Pixel 3a sports a traditional headphone jack, something that you will not find in most modern smartphones.
On the bottom edge, the Pixel 3a is equipped with a USB-C port. The power button and the volume rocker are on the right side and the SIM card tray (doesn’t have a microSD card slot) is located on the left side.
Something else to keep in mind is that the Pixel 3a is not waterproof and doesn’t offer wireless charging like the Pixel 3.
Google Pixel 3a – Performance
The Pixel 3a offers good performance both in multitasking and gaming.
However, since it doesn’t have the Pixel 3’s Snapdragon 845 processor, we noticed that some animations take a little longer and some apps need at least a second more to launch. This is even more noticeable if we compare it side to side with a flagship smartphone like the Galaxy S10 Plus that features a Snapdragon 855 processor.
The user experience is a bit more fluid than the one in Moto G7, but it still lags behind the OnePlus 6T and even the OnePlus 5T (Check on Amazon.com).
Overall, the performance is solid today, but since Google’s flagship phones (Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL) do slow down over time, I’m worried about how the Pixel 3a will behave in the long term.
The Pixel 3a will last you a full working day and it gave me fewer worries than the Pixel 3.
In our battery test – which consists of 720p video playback on a loop using Wi-Fi – the Pixel 3a lasted 16 hours and 15 minutes. In comparison, the Pixel 3 lasted 14 hours and 40 minutes, while the Pixel 3a XL scored 19 hours. The OnePlus 6T lasted for 17 hours and the Moto G7 a little more than 19 hours.
Google Pixel 3a – Cameras
The Pixel 3a has the same camera as the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, one of the best on the market.
During my test period, the Pixel 3a fulfilled my every expectation, capturing photos very quickly, with almost no blur despite shooting slow-moving objects and produced great detail and good colors.
The Pixel 3a also features Google’s amazing Night Sight mode, which allows you to shoot incredible photos in low light conditions. The only difference I noticed is that in order to take photos in portrait mode the viewfinder is set much closer than the one on the Pixel 3, making often necessary to move a few steps back so as to frame the subject correctly.
Sometimes, it seemed to me that this made the blurred background less natural in comparison to the Pixel 3 or other cell phones such as the Galaxy S10+ (Check on Amazon.com) because the background seems further apart from the subject.
One of the novelties is the Time-lapse mode (for example, condensing 50 seconds of recording in 10 seconds of playback).
In general, the videos had good stabilization, good detail, and adequate colors.
Google Pixel 3a – Software
The Pixel 3a runs Android Pie with the same interface that we saw in the previous Pixel, but Google promises that this will be one of the first cell phones that will be updated to Android Q.
Moreover, with each generation of phones, Google has introduced at least one interesting new feature and the Pixel 3a is no exception.
On this occasion, the Pixel 3a is the first smartphone that received Google Maps navigation in augmented reality (known as Google Maps AR). Google Maps AR works well and helped me better identify where I wanted to go.
In a way, the Pixel 3a (Check on Amazon.com) reminds me a bit of Nexus devices, which were trying to offer a solid user experience at a reasonable price. However, some specifications (such as the processor) make it clear that the Pixel 3a is a mid-range smartphone.
The Pixel 3a benefits from having one of the best cameras on the market. Its price also makes it the cheapest Google cell phone (of this generation), which means that it is the cheapest way to enjoy not only the great camera but also the promise of receiving fast Android updates and enjoy features before other Android phones.
Those who want a better performance should opt for the Pixel 3 that currently costs (Check on Amazon.com) or even the OnePlus 6T (Check on Amazon.com) [or the OnePlus 7 Pro if you can justify the price of (Check on Amazon.com)].