This is Google’s first ever non-premium smartphones and I can safely say that Google has totally nailed the basics in this one. The two new variants of the Pixel 3a fall under ‘entry-Premium’ category, which essentially means that you can expect the phones to perform like a premium phone but would not make a hole in your pockets. And that does sound about right. Having said that the pricing for Pixel 3a starts at Rs. 39999. We’ll get into that in a bit.
The Pixel 3a has the XL version as well and come in two colours: Just Black, and Clearly White, in India. I am going to be looking at the Pixel 3a in the colour Just Black.
As you can see the design is borrowed from the Pixel 3 and no one is complaining. The Pixel 3a feels right and light in hand with the dimensions of the phone being 151.3x70.1x8.2 mm, and it weighs 147 grams. You can enjoy an optimal one hand functionality with the device. It has a polycarbonate unibody back which is essentially a plastic back, but I can assure you it does not look and feel plastic-y. I really don’t mind it so much as the fine matt textured back helps avoid both slips and messy fingerprints even though it would mean no wireless charging.
The back of the phone of course has the familiar two-tone design and it includes fingerprint sensor which is extremely quick to unlock your phone. No in-screen sensor, but again, I personally don’t miss it much. The Pixel 3a (Just Black) has no funky power button unlike the ‘Clearly White’ variant, it’s a plain grey button that goes with the plain grey matt back of the phone. It does have dual speaker, but the bottom speaker has dropped down from the bottom face of the phone to the bottom panel and now that you have waited long enough, it does have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top left but no earphones in the box. This is certainly a great addition to a budget phone for sure. It does feel like Google has put in all its might to get the right budget phone even if it means going back in time fish out some of the features. Read on and you’ll know. Once powered on, it’s easy to get started, you can use the Quick Switch Adapter or the USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.
The Pixel 3a features a 5.6-inch full-HD+ (1080x2220 pixels) OLED display with 18:9 display, pixel density of 441ppi. There is no notch on this one, you finally say goodbye to the in-famous Pixel 3 notch. Which also means that there is ample bezel on the phone, thanks to the Pixel 3, bezel is somehow more palatable. Your viewing experience can take a hit only if you are used to watching videos on a big screen phone, not because of video and audio quality, we’ll check it out in detail in our review. I love the fact that the display also supports Always-On mode like its premium devices, which means you can have instant access to details like notifications, the clock and the weather, on your lockscreen.
Coming to the processor, yes, the Pixel 3a is powered by the Snapdragon 670 SoC paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. It may seem like it will fall short considering the other budget phones out there boasts of a lot more. But with fair amount of use I didn’t feel it’s slow at all, then again this can be checked only after using it for a while especially considering there have been issues reported earlier on with the Pixel devices slowing down over a period and that’s something to think about. Another thing that is exciting about the Pixel 3a is the battery. It comes equipped with a 3,000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging (USB-PD 2.0 Quick Charge). Google also promises 7 hours of battery with 15-minute charge. I am yet to test that, but the phone did last me more than a day easily with moderate use. Pixel 3a also feature eSIM, that can enable you to set up your device without needing a SIM card.
Let’s come to the good stuff, faster. Right? The camera on the Pixel 3a, don’t mind my vocabulary, is everything! The phone sports 12.2MP Dual-Pixel Sony IMX363 Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection. And the front camera comes with 8MP, 1.12μm pixel width, f/2.0 aperture, Fixed focus, 84° field of view. The camera is easily the best out there. Let’s just get it off the chest, if you think of your phone as mainly a camera with other functions then go for it. Google is known to bring out some of the best camera phones. It has great clarity, colours and a whole lot of other features like Night Sight, Top Shot, Portrait Mode, Motion Auto Focus, Super Res Zoom, HDR+ et al. The rear camera can record full-HD videos at 30fps, 60fps, 120fps, while 4K videos can be recorded at 30fps. For HD videos, one can choose between 30fps, 60fps, and 240fps. We’ll go into details of all of this in our review. It might be a budget phone but there is nothing ‘budget’ about the camera on this device.
If the striking pictures that the device takes do not impress you, I guess the guaranteed updates from Google is another big advantage for a great Android experience. Think of being first to access to any new features on Youtube, Gmail, Google Photos, preview of AR in Google Maps and all else.
Priced at Rs. 39999 in India, I don’t know if we can call it ‘budget’ in the truest sense as there are many extremely low budgeted phones from Xiaomi and others in India that pack in quite a bit. But if there is a device that can do it for Google, it seems like this is the one. With the pricing, camera and software goodness that Google brings to the table, it could have a winner this time.