In the era of smartphones becoming more pricey, nobody seems interested in lowering the price of premium flagship devices. Over the years, smartphones have become more pricey and even hit the $1000 mark for the first time in 2017. No OEM is ready to lower the “dignity” of their premium flagships with low prices; hence, it’s becoming a common trend to create cheaper low-end devices on top of premium flagships instead.
Google, however, is no exception. In their recent I/0 2019 conference, Google announced its first entry-level flagships devices the Pixel 3a and 3a XL devices. The major selling point for Google in the Pixel 3a and 3a XL devices is the outstanding camera from their Pixel 3/3 XL launched in 2018.
Google’s new flagships are total game-changers compared to other midrange level devices in the smartphone market. At $350 and $500 range, the most common sacrifice one has to make is usually regarding the camera, design, and the processor platform.
But with the new Pixel 3a and 3a XL, the bigger sacrifice one has to make is only about the chipset. Both devices run on a Snapdragon 600 series processor rather than the premium 800 Series chip. Notably on the downside, at this price range an 18:9 screen to body ratio is not appealing. Additionally, the devices are not IP68 certified, and if wireless charging is a priority for you, the two Google entry-level devices are not for you. Also, another setback lies in the screen resolution – both have 1080p screen resolution lower than the QHD+ resolution in the Pixel 3 series.
The body is made of polycarbonate (fancy word for plastic) unlike the glass body in most premium flagships but has more durability as compared to glass bodies. Both Pixels run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, 4gigabytes of RAM and packs 64GB of internal storage.
As you would expect, the devices don’t feature the premium Snapdragon 800 series chipset as in most high-end devices. Due to this the Pixel 3a series experience will be a little bit slower than the original Pixel 3. In comparison to the Pixel 3 however, Google Pixel 3a is half-cheaper.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL premium features are very competitive as compared to the market existing $400 range devices the likes of OnePlus 6 or even the Xiaomi Mi 9.
Here’s a deep dive into the Pixel 3a and 3a XL features
The devices boast the best camera in the smartphone industry considering the adoption of the original Pixel 3 camera. The selfie camera is made of a 12.2MP lens with an f/1.8 aperture featuring Optical Image Stabilization with dual pixel PDAF. The camera features include panorama and HDR modes.
On the primary camera 2160p video recording can be achieved at 30fps while 1080p videos can be shot at either 30fps, 60fps or even 120fps. The selfie camera houses an 8MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. The selfie camera is capable of shooting 1080p videos at 30fps. It’s important to note the absence of an Ultrawide angle view front camera which is included in the Pixel 3.
The front is crafted of glass while the back is made of plastic. A plastic body means that the devices have no wireless charging (Preferably termed as contact charging). The bigger size of the Pixel 3a XL adds a little 20g on the overall weight. However, both devices have both a chin and a bezel but with the excellent camera on board.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL have 5.6-inch and 6.0-inch OLED capacitive display with 1080*2160 and 2220p respectively. Both devices have screens protected with the Asahi Dragontrail Glass protection technology. Though the Pixel 3a XL has fewer pixels per inch compared to the 3a. But don’t worry that won’t be easily noticeable unless you have very sharp eyes.
The devices run on the latest Android 9 Pie. Even a plus to Google’s smartphone ecosystem is that three years of software and security updates are guaranteed, so you’ll be up to date with the coming Android OS at least until 2022. Both devices run on the Snapdragon 670 processor made with the 10nm manufacturing technology paired with the Qualcomm SDM 670 Octa-core CPU (2×2.0 GHz 360 Gold & 6×1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver) with an Adreno 615 GPU.
With only 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage, Google chose not to include a memory card slot, which isn’t a good move in this situation. Also important to note is that the devices have no variants meaning you’re fixed at getting a 4/64GB configuration.
Under the general communication zone, the devices are NFC supported, uses Bluetooth 5.0 and embraces the latest USB 2.0 Type C reversible connector.
Other notable features include a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, a headphone jack. Additionally, the devices support both GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, and LTE connections. The Pixel 3a has a 3000mAh battery while the Pixel 3a XL has more battery capacity of 3700mAh to power the bigger display screen. Both devices have fast charging capabilities, and Google has pitched in the launch that a 15minute charge can last long as 3hours.
Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL will retail for $399 (approx. Ksh 40,000) and $475 (approx. 48,000) respectively.