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Google’s Pixel phones left behind the affordable price points of the Nexus era, but the Pixels are some of the best smartphones you can buy. The problem: they’re getting ever more expensive just like other flagship devices. Google’s solution is the much-leaked and now official Pixel 3a and 3a XL. These phones cost hundreds of dollars less than the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, but they still have most of the same features.
At a glance, the Pixel 3a doesn’t look much different than the more expensive phone. Picking it up, you’d immediately notice that it’s lighter. That’s because Google used polycarbonate instead of glass in the construction. However, the finishing process gives it a textured feeling like the Pixel 3’s glass, and there’s a smooth portion at the top that keeps the Pixel’s visual style consistent. However, it’s still plastic, and it probably won’t hold up as well as the Pixel 3.
The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch 1080p OLED, and the XL is 6-inches, also 1080p. Both phones have tall 18:9 screen ratios, so the bezels aren’t too huge. The 3a XL also lacks the silly gigantic notch from the Pixel 3 XL. They have the same rear-facing fingerprint sensor as the existing Pixel phones. One advantage over those devices is the headphone jack. Google included one on its cheaper phones.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Pixel 3a is the camera, which is almost identical to what you get on the flagship Pixels. It’s a single 12.2MP rear camera with support for HDR+ processing, Night Sight, portrait mode, and more. Google says it spent a lot of time optimizing its photo processing algorithms to work on the less powerful Pixel 3a. They run the same Android Pie software, and you can use the 3a in the Android Q beta program.
Just how much less powerful? Well, not that much. These phones both have 4GB of RAM just like the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Instead of the Snapdragon 845, the 3a has a Snapdragon 670. That’s still an octa-core SoC, but it only has two high-power Kryo CPU cores instead of four. The remaining six CPUs are the power-efficient Kryo.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be unlocked and compatible with all major carriers if you purchase them from Google. There are more carrier partners this time as well. The phones are available from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. The 3a starts at $399, and the 3 XL is $479.
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