The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are Android smartphones from the Google Pixel product line. The phones were officially announced on May 7, 2019 at Google I/O as midrange variants of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL come in three colors: ‘Just Black’ (all black), ‘Clearly White’ (white with an orange power button), and ‘Purple-ish’ (lavender, with a yellow power button). Both the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL resemble the smaller Pixel 3, following criticism of the Pixel 3 XL’s notch. They look similar to their more expensive counterparts, but both have a polycarbonate unibody construction and Asahi Dragontrail glass, rather than Corning Gorilla Glass which is used on most other smartphones.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL come with the Snapdragon 670 and 4 GB of RAM with 64 GB of non-expandable internal storage. Both phones lack wireless charging, water resistance and Pixel Visual Core (PVC), all of which are standard on the Pixel 3. They feature stereo speakers and a headphone jack, the latter of which was omitted on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3. Unlike the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, only one of the speakers is front-firing, with the other speaker on the bottom. A USB-C port is used on both for charging and connecting other accessories. Both phones also have Active Edge, where squeezing the sides of the phone activates Google Assistant, which debuted with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL have a 12.2 megapixel rear camera, which is the same unit found on the Pixel 3, and a single 8 megapixel front-facing camera, lacking the second wide-angle sensor. They feature many of the same photography features as the Pixel 3. Some of these features include:
Night Sight – dramatically improves low light performance with no flash or tri-pod.
Super Res Zoom – employs Super-resolution techniques to increase the resolution beyond what the sensor and lens combination would traditionally achieve using subtle shifts from handheld shake and optical image stabilization (OIS).
Top Shot – takes a burst of HDR+ photos and automatically picks the best shots.
Google Lens – recognizes objects and things seen on the Pixel 3a’s and Pixel 3a XL’s camera.
The Pixel 3a’s Google Photos capabilities are more restrictive than the Pixel 3, being limited to free “high quality” backups; users have to pay for more storage if they upload too many original quality photos.
The Pixel 3a’s camera quality was highly praised, more so considering the device’s price point, with Tom’s Guide calling it “the new midrange benchmark” for cameras. Tom’s Guide gave the Pixel 3a an Editor’s Choice award and a rating of 4.5/5, concluding that it “has far and away the best camera, software and display you could ever hope to get in a $400 phone”. The Verge was similarly positive, giving both the 3a and the 3a XL an 8/10, stating that “[it] takes photos that are nearly indistinguishable from what you get out of a Pixel 3”. The battery life and build quality were praised as well, while reviewers also noted the 3a’s lack of premium features.
Some users are reporting that turning off Digital Wellbeing improves performance. The issue affects other Pixel devices as well, and Google has not yet acknowledged these reports.
Pixel 3a and 3a XL have power issues where some users have their phone randomly shut down.
Manufacturing defects have also been found on some units, with crooked cutouts at the bottom for the speakers and USB-C port, the latter of which could potentially interfere with charging.