With flagship smartphone sales peaking and the Pixel 3 series failing to sell in decent numbers, Google has unveiled its new mid-range Pixel 3a series of smartphones with a notably cheaper price tag. The company hopes that the lower price tag will help the Pixel 3a do better than the Pixel 3 series in terms of sales.

While the Pixel 3a makes compromises in terms of build quality and internals, it offers the same rear camera experience as the Pixel 3 series. The Pixel 3a series comprises of the 5.65-inch Pixel 3a and the 6-inch Pixel 3a XL. Both phones feature an FHD+ OLED panel and are powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 670 chip. They feature a unibody polycarbonate build, though the overall design is the same as the Pixel 3.

Other specs include 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, Active Edge, Wi-Fi ac, rear fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 5.0, headphone jack, stereo speakers, and 18W fast charging. The Pixel 3a comes with a 3000mAh battery, while the Pixel 3a XL comes with a 3700mAh battery. There’s no wireless charging onboard due to the plastic build.

As mentioned, the rear camera setup on the Pixel 3a series is the same as the Pixel 3. This means we are looking at the same 12.2MP shooter with OIS, f/1.8 aperture, and 1.44um large pixels. While the weaker ISP of Snapdragon 675 on the Pixel 3a series will have an impact on overall image quality, the difference should still be limited in most cases. All the main camera features as found on the Pixel 3 including Super Res Zoom, Portrait mode, and Night Sight are found on the Pixel 3a series.

At the front, there’s an 8MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture and an 84-degree field of view. There’s no secondary ultra-wide angle shooter here for groupfies.

The handsets are running on Android 9.0 with Google experience on top of it. This means you get some Pixel-exclusive features like AR walking directions in Google Maps, Google Duplex, Call Screening and more. The handsets are also guaranteed to get updates for 3 years and will be the first in line to get security updates

All the compromises mean the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL carry a notably lower price tag than the Pixel 3 series. The Pixel 3a starts from $400, with the Pixel 3a XL coming in at $479. In the United States, the Pixel 3a series will be available on T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint as well. They will be available in 13+ markets starting from today itself.

Our Take

The Pixel 3a series is cheaper than Apple’s iPhone XR as well. While the iPhone XR starts from $749, the Pixel 3a is almost half the price at $400. That’s a massive difference and one that’s obvious when one goes through the spec sheet of the Pixel 3a series. The phones make quite a few compromises to reach their lower price tag. However, the performance hit seems to be very minimum and the camera experience remains the same as the Pixel 3.

What do you think about the Pixel 3a series? Will you buy it over the iPhone XR especially since it offers a better rear camera?