Today during the company’s annual I/O developers conference in California, Google finally took the wraps off its newest Pixel phones. But these aren’t what you might call traditional Pixels as they target a much different demographic and offer a new feature set we’ve never seen Google attempt.
Called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, the phones are essentially budget-friendly versions of last year’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Whereas these phones targeted the high-end, the 3a series will aim to offer a similar experience but at a much more affordable price point.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL look similar to each other. Neither of them go crazy in the design department, with both offering plastic builds with sizeable bezels surrounding their screens. You get the same two-tone backplate as the more expensive Pixels, and there’s a fingerprint sensor on the rear of each as well.
On the front, the Pixel 3a sports a 5.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2220×1080 and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3a XL steps things up to 6-inch OLED screen with a 2160×1080 resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio. Both should offer a decent viewing experience, albeit not as good as what’s on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
Under the hood is where you’ll find most of Google’s cost-effective compromises it made. In both phones sits a Snapdragon 670 chipset opposed to a flagship 845 or 855. There’s 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Snapdragon 670 isn’t a slow processor, by any means, but it certainly won’t impress you with its performance.
Luckily, there might not be very much to worry about. Google typically loads a solid software experience on its phones with fast and fluid performance. Android 9 Pie ships with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, so let’s hope Google does enough optimization to make the most of the 670 chipset onboard.
You’ll also find front-facing stereo speakers and, yes, a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top.
In terms of batteries, the 3a comes with a 3,000mAh cell while the 3a XL ships with a 3,700mAh cell. These are actually bigger than what comes in the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, with the former shipping with a 2,915mAh battery and the latter arriving with a 3,430mAh pack. Mixed with the efficient processor onboard and there’s a good change the Pixel 3a series will offer some pretty sweet battery life. Only real-world testing will confirm this, but it seems pretty likely to happen.
Of course, Google didn’t make compromises everywhere, and the camera department is one area where it’s obvious. On the back of both phones, the company includes the same exact 12.2MP camera that’s on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. You get the same HDR processing, Night Sight, portrait mode, Motion Photos, the Playground AR stuff, Photo Booth, Super Res Zoom – all of it. This alone might make the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL worth buying.
The Pixel 3a also comes with Google’s Titan M security chip, and it’s guaranteed to receive three years worth of updates.
The Pixel 3a will cost $399 while the Pixel 3a XL will cost $479. It’ll be available unlocked and through multiple carriers such as Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. It launches today.