6 Pixel 3a features that may sway you from buying a thousand-dollar flagship

You get a surprising amount of phone for the price.

Credit: Google

At long leak, the Pixel 3a has arrived. At Tuesday’s Google I/O Developer’s Conference, Google took the wraps off its newest handsets, and lo and behold they look at whole lot like the Pixels that came before. Except they’re very different.  A mid-cycle release with a far lower price tag than the Pixel 3 or any of its flagship peers, the $399 Pixel 3a and $479 3a XL don’t have frosted glass or wireless charging, or even a dual selfie cam. Sure, they have a new color and a headphone jack, but they’re very much in the vein of a mid-tier Android phone, with specs and features to match:

Pixel 3a

Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
Display: 5.6-inch OLED 2,220 x 1,080 Full HD+
Processor: Snapdragon 670
Storage: 64GB
Main camera: 12.2MP, f/1.8, 1.4 μm
Front camera: 8MP, f/2.0, 1.4 μm
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Colors: Black (“Just Black”), white (“Clearly White”), light purple (“Purple-ish”)

Pixel 3a XL

Dimensions: 160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2 mm
Display: 6-inch OLED 2,160 x 1,080 Full HD
Processor: Snapdragon 670
Storage: 64GB
Main camera: 12.2MP, f/1.8, 1.4 μm
Front camera: 8MP, f/2.0, 1.4 μm
Battery: 3,700 mAh
Colors: Black (“Just Black”), white (“Clearly White”), light purple (“Purple-ish”)

But if you dig a little deeper, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL have a whole lot more to offer than a middling processor and a 1080p display. They carry the Pixel name and all that goes with it, so even premium phone buyers might want to consider them before spending twice as much on another handset. Here are five reasons why:

1. They have awesome cameras

The No. 1 reason to buy a Pixel phone has always been the camera, and it’s the same with the 3a. The camera in the Pixel 3a is extremely similar to the one in the Pixel 3, meaning it will simply blow away anything in the price range. The Pixel 3a’s camera app comes loaded with Portrait mode, Night Sight, and Motion Auto Focus, In short, the 3a’s camera will compete with the likes of the Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS, flagship devices costing three times as much as the $399 Pixel 3a. 

pixel 3a camera Google

With Night Sight on the Pixel 3a, you’ll be able to see much better in the dark.

2. They’ll get better as they age

If you buy a Galaxy S10+ you can be assured that you’re getting one of the best phones of 2019, but what about 2021? With every Pixel phone, Google promises at least two years of Android updates and three years of security updates. So you’ll get Android Q later this year, Android R next year, and maybe even Android S, with security updates all the way until 2022. No other Android phone can make that promise, at any price.

3. They actually have wide carrier support

The biggest obstacle to the success of the Pixel phones have been carrier support. Verizon has been the exclusive Pixel carrier since it launched, but the Pixel 3a expands availability to T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular stores as well. If you’re an AT&T customer, you’ll still need to buy an unlocked one, though.

4. They have Titan M Security

With the Pixel 3, Google introduced an enterprise-grade custom security chip. It’s the kind of chip you’d expect to find in a flagship phone, locking down the boot process, verifying passwords, and generally making it harder for hackers to crack into your Pixel. Google is bringing that same level of security to the far more affordable Pixel 3a.

5. They’ll last all day and charge quickly

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL’s battery sizes may seem modest, but they’re actually bigger than those in their premium siblings. The Pixel 3 already has excellent battery life, so with fewer pixels to push and a less intensive processor, the 3a should easily power through a day. But if it can’t, the Pixel 3a also supports 18W fast charging, so you can get 7 hours of use with just a 15-minute charge.

pixel 3a sizes Google

No metter which Pixel 3a you choose, you’ll be getting great battery life.

6. They have the best Assistant features

Google Assistant is baked into the deepest corners, search fields and apps on the Pixel 3a. When you want to access it, you can give the sides a squeeze, just like on the Pixel 3. What’s more, the new Pixels feature the incredible Call Screen technology, which can answer suspicious calls, talk to the person on the other end, and let you know whether it’s legit. Seriously, it’ll change your life.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon

PC World (US online)
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