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Google Pixel 3a Review

calendar_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.

Google Nexus 5X (2015)

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:

The Specs

  • 5.6 inch OLED dis­play
    441ppi 1080x2220
  • 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)
Pix­el 3a (2019)

Build Quality

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.

Performance

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.

Best-In-Class Camera

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:

“Phone X” and Pix­el 3a low-light pho­to com­par­i­son

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.

Battery Life

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.

Conclusion

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


– Kedi