Google Pixel 3a XL review: Come for the camera, stay for the experience

Rather than run with another disconcertingly deep notch, Google went with a more standard 6. The front-facing camera can capture great-looking shots but there is a noticeable reduction in quality compared to the selfies shot on the flagship Pixels. But do those savings come at a cost? Ultimately, it comes down to your smartphone usage patterns. I know what some of you are thinking: Taking a phone with a shaky track record like the Pixel 3 has and stripping it down to its bare bones could be problematic. Testing out a bokeh effect in the Portrait Mode yielded similar results. Both phones will get three years of updates Source: Android Central Google is thankfully not making any changes when it comes to the software side of things. However, a spec sheet does not make a phone. There's no way to add on storage, but at least all your photos are automatically backed up to Google Photos, so that's one way to conserve space on the phone. Or will you prefer something with a bit more grunt under-the-hood? The carriers will sell both Pixel 3a models online and in-store, and Google will carry the devices on its as well as on. Hint: it all comes down the display size and battery life. The phone quickly becomes an extension of the user. There is another difference that will give you a stronger clue though — the return of the headphone jack. They keep packing more and more features into their phones, driving up the cost. You can also expect the other software features that highlight Google's more expensive phones. Google has backtracked from their decision to get rid of , at least for their budget models. The Pixel 3a has dual stereo speakers as well. This is a phone that offers a truly fantastic user experience but is incredibly hard to recommend in key markets because of the sheer value and specs competitors offer. Barcelona's obnoxious day-glo away shirt was easy to pick out despite the glare. On the bright side, no notch, at least. This is way too low, and, after restoring my phone backup, I was left with under half that. The latter stacks data from multiple images to reduce noise. The two buttons have excellent tactile feedback. We've used every single Pixel device Google has released, and are here to help you make the right choice when picking up your next phone. The end result is a bright-looking image with limited noise. Google's solution: Take all the things people like about the Pixel 3 and put them in an that costs much, much less. The major difference is the glass build has been switched out for polycarbonate. Regardless, the company says it plans to keep the mid-range a-line going for a while. If Google could make a phone that seemed this solid, why did the Pixel 3 turn out the way it did? The phone has absolutely no bloat onboard. This might improve the movie, actually. And just to show it means business, the Google Pixel 3a brings back the headphone jack and keeps the Active Edge feature Google has popularised. This is not a budget smartphone. Look at this photo of a plate of scrambled eggs, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell which one was shot by the more expensive phone. The Pixel 2 and 3 proved that it doesn't really matter what kind of camera a phone has if machine learning can improve the photos after they're taken. I am, after all, Engadget's resident butterfingers. The story is the same for graphics. Instead you get a small block of bezel above and below the screen, for an aesthetic that matches the smaller Pixel 3. This is the same Pixel experience you get on the full-fat Pixel 3 right down to the image quality. There is a bit more noise, the frame of view is lower and images are just a bit softer on details. That likely means shooting light sources will be more difficult than if you had one. Now more than ever, Google needs a more affordable entryway into the Pixel family. However, those are the only differences between the handsets. That was something that stood out to those who noticed the phone when we were using it, and it often earned compliments. That includes Call Screening, a feature Google introduced last year where the Google Assistant intercepts calls and deals with robocalls on your behalf. So, what does a company like Google do when its flashy, premium smartphones aren't doing so well? Over three generations of hardware, Google has constantly cut design cruft away. No one's felt that pain more acutely than Google, which reported that sales of the Pixel 3 are off the pace set by the Pixel 2. Using the feature, you will be able to get direction information overlaid on top of a map of your surroundings. In Natural mode, display performance is exceptional. While the phone usually managed things well, there were a few occasions when the music player force closed when I launched an additional app or the Twitter app would load up from scratch. And that has to be disappointing, given that the Pixel 3 is one of the you can buy today. In other words, if you didn't already have a Pixel — or some other flagship phone — you'd find little to complain about here. That's really the only other one worth owning. The hardware is decent enough for everyday tasks, but the camera is head and shoulders above anything else you'll find in this segment. Despite that omission, Google has replicated all the features found in the flagship Pixels through clever software engineering. Overall, this is a fine display. The phone is able to recognize buildings and surroundings and overlay visual signs over them. I did notice that the phone heats up moderately after 10-15 minutes of gaming but not to an uncomfortable degree. At the heart of the two new Pixel handsets are the camera experience, access to Google's suite of apps and voice assistant, and the latest software and security updates guaranteed for three years. To think that you now get a camera of this caliber in the mid-range segment is astounding. Pricing, of course, is relative. Still, both of those times mean the latest Pixels are among the we've tested recently. I tried running on the phone and performance was more than satisfactory. There are a couple of tiny differences between the two displays, apart from size. The feature is quite straightforward and lets you shoot 10-second clips with images captured over 50 seconds, all the way up to 20 minutes. Thankfully, both versions of the Pixel 3a have standard headphone jacks so you can plug in your favorite pair of cans without having to remember where you left that obnoxious little converter dongle. While the 3a retains most of the major software features of Pixel phones, there is one notable omission. Previous Pixels were restricted to either Verizon or Google's own Google Fi wireless service, unless you opted for an unlocked model. The delivers a lot more punch as far as hardware is concerned for not much more money. Although the phones look similar, Google has used different materials. The right side has the power button and volume rocker within easy reach. Both phones are available to order now through , , , U. With all that said, the camera experience here isn't identical to what Pixel 3 owners might be used to. The Pixel 3a has a slightly wider 18. From the moment went on sale, us reviewers were largely in agreement: The phones' software was far more impressive than the hardware. Unfortunately, this feature is not supported in India due to the lack of Street View data. We suspect that this was done to differentiate the budget Pixel from the premium device, but it is still very disappointing to see such a key element of the Pixel experience missing from the phone. I suspect the black variant might fare better. While this is not the most versatile camera on the market the would take the cake for that , the Pixel series is one of the most reliable shooters. Check out all the news Google announced at its developer conference on our. There's even Night Sight, Google's multi-frame capture mode that effectively lets you phone see in the dark. For one, the Visual Core's inclusion was reported so widely that it already seemed like a done deal. And increasingly, people aren't buying them. One of the tent poles of the Pixel experience is a. An interesting feature that has carried down from the higher-end Google Pixels is Active Edge. It has great specs, a strong battery, the return of a headphone jack and most importantly in Google's eyes, a brilliant camera. The and its Snapdragon 632 processor turned in a 4,814 result, while the Snapdragon 636-powered scored 4,934. Users frequently complained about lag and apps in the background being killed but I didn't struggle with either problem during my week of testing. However, when you take it indoors, the Pixel 3a streaks ahead. What's more interesting to me is that Google went with some decidedly non-premium silicon when building the 3a. You don't need to worry much, though. This is, of course, to be expected when using a mid-range phone. It ships with Android Pie out of the box and it guarantees three years of software updates. If you're comparing these two phones and looking for a great smartphone deal, now's a wonderful time. Building a great budget-friendly phone is all about finding the right balance of trade-offs and capability. As a result, the Pixel design language feels almost organic in nature. It's the same single 12-megapixel rear shooter you'll find on the more expensive Pixels. Well, until Android Q launches, anyway. However, that wasn't what happened when we tested both phones. In my week with the phone, not once did I feel the phone was running out of steam. In building this phone, Google tried to bring some of its best work to a wider audience, and the work has paid off. That means you won't be able to take wide-angle selfies — helpful when you want to squeeze in more people or capture more background details in your self-portrait. In addition to the quality of the screen itself, the haptics also stood out to me. Will this be enough to turn the tide for the Pixel series? For what it's worth, a Google spokesperson told me that the Visual Core was left out purely to keep costs down. The two most important things that a smartphone can provide are a good camera and long battery life. Here's the thing about the Pixels, though: Everyone knows that Google is, relatively speaking, a rookie hardware-maker. That said, I do wish Google had gone with a panel that was just a little brighter; it's mostly readable under direct sunlight, but a little more oomph would have made outdoor use a little easier. The phone distills the to its basics, drops the cruft and offers a clean vision of what Google wants Android phones to be. The lower speaker, predictably, gets muffled every time you hold the phone in a landscape orientation. Things even out when we're not staring directly into the sun, though. Close-up shots look great, with ample details and very natural-looking color rendering. When switched over to natural, the display comes across as one of the most accurate panels around, with extremely neutral looking colors. Each one offer the same brightly colored vegetables and noticeable flecks of pepper, with a slight overexposure in the upper right corner. That's a big deal when you consider most mid-range phones do not receive timely updates. Naturally, screen-on time has improved, too. Google took just about everything that made the other Pixels worth owning, fixed a lot of lingering issues, and made the whole thing accessible to even more people. Using an onboard database of a few thousand songs, the phone can recognize music playing around you and give you an easy-to-access history of all the tracks. To me, at least, that's the real promise of the 3a line: Sure, you'll get solid performance and improved battery life, but you'll also get a world-class camera experience on the cheap. No wonder the company pushed out so many performance improvement updates after launch. If I had to boil it down, the Pixel experience is defined by only a few crucial factors: the software and the camera experience. The phone was launched on May 7 2019. Yes, Google Pixel 4 deals are now widely available and yet, this will still likely be the most appealing choice to many. That result is 15 minutes behind the Pixel 3a's time, which is a little puzzling since that phone has a smaller 3,000 mAh battery. I was half-hoping that, since Google was clearly open to embracing classic smartphone features, we'd get some expandable memory support here. One-handed use is possible, although those with smaller hands will likely find that both are required to comfortably tap away at the screen. That was with the screen set to maximum brightness, so I would expect a pretty low reading once I have the chance to measure the screen's brightness with a light meter. However, the front camera is a step down from the dual-camera set up on the Pixel 3. It's not clear whether any of these failings specifically led to the disappointing sales Alphabet in the company's most recent earnings call, but they surely didn't help. The guaranteed software updates, well-optimized user experience and great battery life are all credible selling points for a non-demanding user. Oh, and the phone also has a headphone jack. So is the sensor's optical and electronic image stabilization, and its 1. Upon closer inspection, there is a difference in processing speed. Both are all-plastic, but with the same matte and glossy backs, and both come in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White and Purple-ish. Squeezing the sides of the phone triggers and lets you initiate searches and request without having to pull it up via a gesture. The Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor continuously improves detection rate and security with repeated use. If you're dead-set on owning a Google Pixel and really care about battery life, then you don't have a choice. There are, of course, some caveats to using a mid-tier chipset. Even the fact that this screen runs at a lower, 2,140 x 1,080 resolution isn't really an issue since it's still plenty crisp with pleasing colors. Also, Apple's phone was either flummoxed by the towel I have draped over my shoulder or it chose to blur that, too; in either case, it's a look I don't care for. That seems to be the exact market Google is courting with the Pixel 3a. It's a smaller phone, with a screen that measures 5. There is a very slight saturation bump in the images, but it tends to give the final result an almost film-like character. It costs £469, which is £150 less than the. The cheaper Pixel 3a sports a 5. If you're just going off the model number, this might sound a little wimpy compared to the Pixel 3's Snapdragon 845. Titan M brings added security to the Pixel phones and is responsible for storing all biometric and lock code data. Even so, the chip's absence was a surprise for two reasons. Shooting in strong sunshine, the phone managed to evenly light up the lifeguard while preserving the highlights on the water. Yes, it's more limited in some ways, but those limitations never, ever felt like dealbreakers. The glossy-and-matte finish around back is here once again, not to mention the telltale Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor and the little pop of color on the power button. The 3a looks nearly identical to the Pixel 3-series in its minimalist approach to design. Having used both phones side by side, I think the Pixel 3a matches up well against its pricier counterpart. But somewhere along the way, things took a turn. Once you hold the Pixel 3a in your hand, though, it's a little easier to detect where Google was able to save some money on this phone. For my money, it's also the easiest flavor of Android to get started with — aside from some atrocious gesture controls, anyway. The phone includes a headphone jack at the top, a welcome move. Because Google promises three years of security and software updates for its phones, that means you'll get Android Q when that update arrives later this year. There are more flexible options out there, like the and , but when it comes to sheer point-and-shoot pleasure, the Pixel 3a is tough to beat. Back to the design, within a week of use, the white polycarbonate has already picked up a few scuffs and stains. When we ran our battery test on the phone, it lasted for 11 hours, 44 minutes, which places it among the we've tested in the past year-and-a-half. Combine that with guaranteed security and platform updates for three years and you get one of the best mid-range phones of 2019. Either one of these photos of a rose in a public park would make for a perfectly fine shot, with the winner coming down to personal taste. Would you consider buying one? The lack of the Pixel Visual Core also plays a role in increasing photo processing time in third-party apps. But the Moto G7 512 and Nokia 7. That's a little smaller than the nearly edge-to-edge 6. We've located all of the top Google Pixel 3a deals and listed them in the chart below so you can find the one that works best for you. There are also less obvious differences. Still, going into all of this, I had one big question on my mind: How would the Pixel 3a's camera stack up to the fantastic one we got in the Pixel 3? Summary With a well-made body and surprisingly capable performance, Google has proven again that it can compensate for under-powered hardware with excellent software. Here are some good and low-light comparisons to illustrate my point. In good light, the samples from the Google phones are all extremely close. This is a phone designed for regular people who just want a phone that can capture great memories, deliver solid battery life, and will last them a good few years. Shortly after launch, we started hearing about a litany of issues plaguing those Pixels, from increasingly sluggish performance to worrying battery life to camera-stability problems. The features are in the same places, too: the camera and flash are in the top-left corner on the rear and the fingerprint reader is in the centre just below the glossy strip, with the volume and power buttons residing on the right edge. What I can say, though, is that anyone who hates the idea of paying too much for a phone simply has to pay attention to this phone. As promised, the software here is among the cleanest and most thoughtful implementations of Android you'll find out there. Yes Yes Colors Clearly White, Just Black, Purple-ish Clearly White, Just Black, Purple-ish Size 6 x 2. The sky in the Pixel photo isn't as blown out as it appears in the iPhone image. Applying a bokeh blur to each self-portrait shows that Google handles such effects with greater aplomb, even in its budget phone. More importantly, I was surprised because the 3a still did a good job improving my images without it; it was so quick, I had originally just assumed it was there. A significant part of the appeal of the Google Pixel is its clean software build. For everyone else, Google finally has a really good option that gets you the core flagship experience at a fraction of the cost. So far, it's managed to fend off the dozens of tiny nicks that come with accidentally putting a phone in the same pocket as my keys, but I suspect my luck won't last much longer. An affordable phone, however, this is not. Listen to it below and subscribe! This plastic frame doesn't have the same panache as the original Pixel 3s did, but hey — Google needed to keep costs down somehow. Instead, you get the option to upload at high quality, just like every other Android phone. I do like the Google touch of adding a splash of color to the power button — it's orange on the Clearly White model and lime on the Purple-ish version. While the 6T is able to shoot 4K video at 60fps and fully stabilised, the Pixel 3a can only shoot 30fps 4K. Google has put the Pixel 3's amazing camera in the more affordable and. Don't worry: It's still loud enough for podcasts and YouTube videos, though you lose the kind of immersive audio quality that came with the regular Pixel 3's dual front-facing speakers. On paper, the Xiaomi Mi 9 wins this contest. The differences become more apparent once you flip the phone over. If you've never used a Pixel, well, hello there: You're exactly the kind of person for whom Google made this phone in the first place. When it's time to recharge the phone, Google says that 15 minutes of charge time will give you 7 hours of battery life. I took a photo of the swimming pool where my daughter was practicing, and the conditions were hardly ideal: the sun is setting just off to right of the shot, creating a strong glare on that side of the frame. Choosing between the two comes down to what you're looking for in a device. In fact, we enjoyed the screen a lot. Watching the Sonic The Hedgehog Trailer on YouTube, Sonic was a bright streak of blue, but any dimly-lit scenes looked murky with details lost in the shadows. With fairly consistent use, it'll easily stick around for more than a day, and if you're really judicious, you could pretty easily get the phone to hit two days off a single charge. Otherwise, you get the same great camera on both phones, and you also get the same processing power — and a headphone jack, if that's important to you. This is paired with a chipset. Let's look at these one by one. In adverse lighting conditions, the phone pops up a reminder to use the Night Sight mode.。 。 。

Google Pixel 3a XL review

。 。

16

Google Pixel 3a XL review

。 。

13

Google Pixel 3a XL vs. Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?

Pixel 3a vs. Pixel 3a XL: What's Different?

7

Google Pixel 3a XL Review: The big new affordable Pixel

Google Pixel 3a XL review: Come for the camera, stay for the experience

。 。