Popular smartphone makers known for releasing high-end, expensive smartphones have now started coming up with affordable versions of their smartphones. Apple did it with the iPhone Xr, Samsung with the Galaxy S10e, and even Google released the toned-down variant of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL — the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL.
While the whole idea of being able to buy smartphones from tech companies we love at affordable price points is the best we can think of, there still exists the most obvious question — Are these affordable versions worth it?
Google Pixel 3a Review
So, I got hold of the recent offering by Google, the Pixel 3a and thought of finding for myself whether or not the Google Pixel 3a’s camera is enough for me to shed around Rs 39,999 out of my pockets — or, just go for another smartphone in the same price tag from many of now-popular Chinese companies. Therefore, read on to find out my Google Pixel 3a review:
I will start off with the cameras this time and to begin with, the camera configuration for the Pixel 3a is a 12.2MP dual-pixel rear snapper and an 8MP front camera, similar to the Pixel 3’s cameras (except the Pixel 3a has a single front camera).
Most of the camera specs remain the same as the Pixel 3, hence, a slight comparison is called for. But this section will involve a comparison of the Pixel 3a and the iPhone Xr as well.
The Pixel 3a’s camera is more or less similar to the Pixel 3 (I have used the latter as well). While the Pixel family is known for producing natural images (and I agree with it), I still don’t find it better than the iPhone camera.
When I compared the Pixel 3a with the iPhone Xr, it made things clearer for me. The latter had better details with equally natural resultant images. The Pixel 3a has the capability to increase the contrast of the images, thus, producing, enhanced images. The iPhone Xr, on the other hand, calls for subtle tones and colors. Even though some may like the enhanced colors produced, it at times paints a different picture of the subject and can even change the color palette in the image.
You can check out some of the Pixel 3a and iPhone Xr camera samples over here.
While I like the way Pixel’s camera doesn’t over-process photos, the increase in contrast in the images tends to make the images a bit animated at times and not all the areas in the image get highlighted — some remain dark. Furthermore, the selfies have been decent too and details have been highlighted in them, much like the Pixel 3.
Having said that, Google’s Pixel phones top in low-light photography with the company’s Night Sight mode and most phones, even iPhones, fail in this area. So, a shoutout to the Pixel for that!
If I see the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3a from a distance, both devices look alike. But upon taking a closer look, the latter is slightly bigger than the former and also has a good amount of bezels on it.
If I have to rate the Pixel 3a in terms of the design, the device is an ideal one to use; with 147 grams of weight, the smartphone is really easy to hold and use. Comfort-wise, it wins the race against many smartphones out there.
Aesthetics-wise, the Pixel 3a has the proprietary Google-built design; it features a single-camera module, a fingerprint sensor, and the company’s logo on the dual-finish back. However, this one’s made of plastic. The front has a considerable amount of bezels and a front camera with necessary sensors at the top portion.
The left side of the smartphone has a SIM tray while on the right side the volume up/down button and a power on/off button. The bottom part has a USB Type-C port and speaker grille, and the top part has a 3.5mm audio jack.
While it is an easy-to-use device, the plastic built is a turnoff and might not encourage many to go for it.
The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch Full HD+ OLED display with the Always-on functionality. While the device is referred to as a full-screen one, the visible-to-all-sorts of eye bezels prove otherwise. Being slightly bigger than the 5.5-inch Pixel 3’s screen, the Pixel 3a’s display is equally bright and produces vivid colors, like its elder sibling.
Objects on the display appeared aptly lit on it and there was not really a difference between the Pixel 3 and the 3a display, giving the Pixel lovers a reason to go for the affordable variant. Hence, the Pixel 3a earns a point in the display department.
However, the bezels are there, therefore, it could not be liked by the ones who love the bezel-less display trend.
Performance and Tech Specs
Starting off with the tech specs of the Pixel 3a, here’s the spec sheet for a better understanding of the device:
Pixel 3a Spec Sheet
|Specifications||Google Pixel 3a|
|Resolution||2,220 x 1,080|
|Fast Charging Supported||Yes|
|OS||Android 9 Pie|
|Rear Camera||12.2 megapixels|
|Front Camera||8 megapixels|
|Other Camera Features||Top Shot, Group Selfie, Super Res Zoom, Night Sight|
|Phone Features||Active Edge feature|
|Starting Price (Current)||Rs 39,999|
As for the performance part, the Pixel 3a has been a good companion throughout my usage. Even though the processor is a laddered-down Snapdragon one, it doesn’t lag much if I compare it with the Pixel 3. Of course, slight differences appear; the Pixel 3 certainly has an edge over the Pixel 3a as the latter tends to stutter at some moments. There were times when I used to open apps and they closed on their own, without much usage. However, that very edge is not something I would like to make an issue of.
My regular tasks such as playing games (at times), surfing the net, going through YouTube, and most importantly, my social media, got done at a good pace and I don’t have much of a complaint with the device.
As for the battery, the 3,000mA battery lasted me more than a day, which is sufficient for my usage and fast charging ensured my battery consumes its fuel quickly; I have always liked the tech and Google offers a good one.
Lastly, the UI is something I don’t need to say about it; the device offers stock Android 9.0 Pie and what else can an Android lover wish for? Among other things, the audio quality was decent and the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner was quick enough and wasn’t cranky at all.
Now that you got down to the last section of this Pixel 3a review, you might feel that I haven’t really mocked the device, then why the headline? Well, the device is surely a decent one from Google land, given that Google produces expensive smartphones, much like Apple. The Pixel 3a specs are fine too, but what’s not fine is its price tag. Had the price been below Rs 30,000, the device was something I would have recommended more often. Additionally, smartphones such as the OnePlus 7, the Xiaomi Redmi smartphones come for a way lesser price and offer way more than the Pixel 3 and it is a proven fact.
While I adore Google for doing pretty well in many departments, I want it to do the same in the price segment as well.
Hence, my statement “Pixel 3a’s camera is not enough to justify its Indian price” stands true and I go by it.
As a quick disclaimer, if you are a big Pixel fan and price has never been an issue, you may certainly go for the device, it’s not bad at all!