Pixel 3a and 3a XL: What’s Similar, What’s Different


Loved the cameras and smooth stock Android UI on the Google  Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones, but found their price too high for comfort? Well, you now have a chance to experience both at a much lower price tag. Google has released more affordable variants of both phones, called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. So what do they bring to the table, and what corners have been cut to get those lower prices?

Look like Pixels…but are plastic, not glass!
Both the Pixel 3a and 3a XL have the same basic design philosophy – fronts dominated by the displays and a dual tone back with a slightly glossy top and a more matte lower portion. There are no notches in either display, which means slightly larger bezels. Unlike the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, the back is not glass but is actually carbonate. But it does not look bad. The dual tone back actually makes the phones stand out from the crowd of glass with gradient finish devices right now. They are both reasonably smart look and relatively slim – both are 8.2 mm thin. We would not call them spectacularly good looking but they look typically Pixel, which is not a bad thing. However, neither is water or dust resistant, unlike the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.

The XL is of course bigger (duh!)
As their names indicate, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL have different sizes. The Pixel 3a XL is the larger one, as can be guessed from its initials – it has a 6 inch AMOLED display as compared to the 5.6 one on the 3a (also AMOLED). Interestingly, however, the Pixel 3a has a higher resolution display with 2220 x 1080 resolution, as compared to 2160 x 1080 on the 3a XL. The larger display also makes the XL a longer device at 160.1 mm as compared to 151.3 mm. And of course, with bigger frames comes greater weight – the XL is heavier at 167 grammes, as compared to 147 grammes of the  3a.

Same stock Android (duh again, these are Pixels), complete with perks
These being Pixel devices, they of course come with pure, stock Android with zero bloatware. Both phones run Android 9, and are assured Android updates for three years. You also get Pixel perks like a YouTube Music Premium free for three months, and unlimited high-definition photo storage on Google Photos. There are no corners cut when it comes to software.

Hooray, same Pixel cameras (on the back)
For many, the cameras would be the biggest factor for thinking of a Pixel and well, on paper it seems that Google has given the Pixel 3a and 3a XL the same rear cameras that made the Pixel 3 and 3 XL legendary – they have a similar 12.2 megapixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture and optical as well as electronic image stabilisation. Of course, they will also be accompanied by the computational photography software magic that made the Pixel 3 take such amazing pictures, so you can be assured of some great photography here. In the front cameras, however, Google has gone with single cameras on both devices (the 3 XL had a dual camera in the notch, remember) – an 8.0-megapixel snapper with f/2.0 aperture. Once again, however, expect the world from it, given the level of software muscle behind it.

Held together by similar, but slower, chips
Perhaps the biggest difference in hardware terms between the a-grade Pixels and their predecessors is the processor. While the Pixel 3 and XL had come with flagship level Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processors, the 3a and its XL cousin come with the slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 670. Both also come with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, which is not expandable (again a Pixel thing!). We think that the chip should be good enough for routine tasks and even a bit of heavy duty stuff, but we would not recommend trying very high graphics gaming on it. Incidentally, the Snapdragon 670 is ranked lower than the Snapdragon 675 seen on the Redmi Note 7 pro and the Snapdragon 710 on the Realme 3 Pro, both of which cost much lesser than the Pixel 3a and XL.

Different batteries that charge fast, but not wirelessly
The Pixel 3a and XL come with different sized batteries – the 3a has a 3000 mAh battery while the 3a XL has a 3700 mAh battery. Both devices support fast charging through their USB type C ports and Google says fifteen minutes of charging will give you up to seven hours of usage, which is an impressive statistic. Mind you, neither phone supports wireless charging, which the 3 and 3 XL did (cost cutting alert!).

Plenty of connectivity but still only one physical SIM
When it comes to connectivity options, both phones come well equipped. You get 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. You also get dual SIM connectivity, but one of the SIMs will have to be an electronic one, which is sort of restrictive. There is only one physical SIM card slot in the phone.

Lots of sound and even a 3.5 mm jack
This is perhaps the one area where the new Pixels beat the old ones. Whereas the Pixel 3 and 3 XL did away with the 3.5 mm audio jack, not allowing you to use wired headphones unless you had an adaptor, the pixel 3a and XL have a 3.5 mm audio jack. And they also have stereo sound, although they do not have front firing speakers. Sound is one area where these seem to be very, well, sound!

And of course, different prices…which STILL seem high
The Pixel 3a is available for Rs 39,999, while the bigger display and battery of the 3a XL moves its price up to Rs 44,999. These might seem to be a bit on the higher side when you consider that there are phones with better processors and more storage RAM at much lower prices, but then Google seems to be betting on camera, stock Android and regular updates. Are those going to be enough? Stay tuned for our report cards on the new Pixels, to find out if they get an A grade!



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