Google Pixel 3a Reviewcalendar_today Posted 9 months ago · 6 minute-read · Daily Life
I recently decided to upgrade my phone. My LG Nexus 5X was working fine (generally speaking) up until a few months ago. The fingerprint sensor stopped working, overall performance was very sluggish, and the battery life was very bad. I’m talking about running out of battery at 2PM just for listening to music on my Bluetooth headphones and maybe receiving some calls.
I bought my Nexus 5X in 2016, one year after its original release date, for 300€. At the time I was happy with my purchase, but it’s really a shame that after only 3 years I am literally forced to buy a new phone, since the Nexus can’t keep up with everyday tasks and keeps dying.
Before my Nexus 5X, I had a Nexus 5 (miss that little guy so much) and prior to that, a Samsung Galaxy S. Like, the first Samsung Galaxy that was released in 2010. I have never spent more than 350 bucks on a phone, it’s really difficult for me to shell out too much money on devices other than my laptop.
So I sent my beloved Nexus to a retirement home and looked for a replacement phone around the 300–400€ price range, which is considered mid-lower tier. I had my eyes on the Google Pixel 3a, but it was 399€ at first. I waited for discount season and voilà, it was down to 349€. Got my hands on it on Dec 7, and here I am to share my experience after about a month of use:
- 5.6 inch OLED display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 670, Adreno 615 GPU
- Android 10 (3yrs of updates guaranteed)
- 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage
- 3000 mAh battery, fast battery charging 18W
- 12MP front camera, 1.4µm, OIS
- Stereo speakers (front and bottom)
The phone is made out of plastic, but don’t let that fact fool you. It feels nice in the hands, although maybe too slippery. This is definitely a phone that requires a case.
It’s for sure lighter than higher-end flagship phones, which might make it feel less “premium”. In my opinion, it does not feel cheap at all, I like it! And it has those curves on the back and the screen, really matching Google’s current vision of Material Design.
The Pixel 3a is a solid build. It doesn’t seem like it would break or bend easily. I’m not dropping mine to find out, though! Check out this durability test made by JerryRigEverything. TLDR: It passes the durability test.
The screen is DragonTrail glass, which is a Corning Gorilla glass competitor. I have to say that after a month of usage with an official Google phone case, there’s absolutely no scratches and I’ve had it in my pocket with keys and coins.
In terms of build quality, this Pixel device meets the bar.
Coming from my previous handsets, all I can say is that it feels snappy. This is a snappy phone! After one month of usage, there have been no slowdowns. In fact, I’ve been able to compare with higher-end handsets, like the iPhone, and it feels pretty much the same in terms of speed.
However, this is a budget phone, so I’ve experienced slight performance issues, that depending on the user, won’t be of much significance:
- Frequent application refresh. When you open an app and switch to another app, then switch back, you’ll see that the first app you opened has to reload entirely. With 4GB of RAM, this shouldn’t be as frequent as it is. This is due to the operating system’s RAM management, and Google is already updating all Pixel devices with memory management improvements.
- Shutter lag when taking photos. You’ll need to wait a few seconds in between taking photos.
- HDR processing takes a few seconds. After taking a photo and viewing it in the camera roll, you’ll be greeted with a loading spinner until the image processing has finished. It can take up to 10 seconds.
- Demanding games run slower than on flagship phones with more powerful specifications. This phone is not a phone for heavy gaming, just keep that in mind.
Overall, the Pixel 3a’s performance is excellent. It really does feel quick and responsive all around, which is unusual for a phone in this price range. Nobody could tell it’s not a flagship phone from looking at the performance alone.
Every year Google manages to deliver a smartphone with a great camera. The way they achieve this is by computational photography (through software), there’s really nothing that special about the Sony sensor they use. Google has learned how to treat photo data better than any other smartphone company out there.
The camera is one of the main selling points of this device. When Google revealed the Pixel 3a, they boasted about the camera quality, especially when taking low-light photos. They compared it to the iPhone XS’s camera:
The camera hardware and software is supposed to be identical to its 2018 flagship brother, the Pixel 3. You’ll be able to take stellar photos and videos with it, just like with the Pixel 3.
I am not a cameras person at all, but it is general consensus that this Pixel’s camera does not disappoint and can be considered a competitor to $1000-plus smartphones on the market.
One of the main reasons I upgraded my phone is the terrible battery life. This phone, I’m happy to say, has performed very well so far in the battery department.
The combination of a low-power CPU and a modest OLED screen makes the Pixel 3a really hold on to those 3000mAh of battery. On a full charge, my Pixel lasts about 1.5 days. I gotta say though, I have yet to reach 0% of battery on this phone, since I’m used to charging my devices every night, regardless of the remaining battery percentage.
Overall, the 3000mAh battery, combined with the phone’s mid-tier specs, makes for excellent battery life. And to top it all off, the device also supports quick-charging, which should give you about 7 hours of battery life with a 15-minute charge. Amazing.
For me, this phone is just what I was looking for as a successor to my Nexus 5X. It is a performant, well-built Google phone, that makes for a pure Android experience, great camera, and frequent software updates for at least 3 years. This is a phone Google cares about, and for the price, it’s all I could ever ask for.
9 out of 10