If you’re looking to buy a good camera phone, be ready to shell out at least Rs 50,000, and if you’re an Apple enthusiast, well, then, simply double that amount. Or you could also go for a refurbished phone. These are your only options! But what if you could get a brand-new phone that captures pictures just as great as the Pixel 3 and at nearly half the price. Yes, I’m talking about the recently launched Pixel 3a.
Priced at Rs 39,999, the Pixel 3a doesn’t follow the rule that says that only with a great price comes a great camera phone, rather it breaks it. And while it makes a few compromises here and there, it more than makes up for in terms of camera quality. The photos it captures just like the ones captured by its older brother – the Pixel 3, which costs an additional Rs 20,000.
Design and display
In terms of design, the Pixel 3a is similar to the Google Pixel 3. It also has the same feel, but there is a major difference – the Pixel 3a’s body is all plastic (Google calls it polycarbonate) as compared to the glass body of the Pixel 3. But that doesn’t affect the way it nicely fits in your hand. The 3a is not water-resistant and also does not support wireless charging. While the Pixel 3 has two speakers at the front – something that I really liked about it – the Pixel 3a comes with only one speaker. It comes with an OLED display.
The phone has big bezels both above and below the screen. But the good thing is that there is no notch. There is a single camera at the front, while the fingerprint sensor is at the back instead of sitting under the screen, and there is no face unlock feature. And although the phone is not premium, it’s well designed – I love its two-tone finish. It still supports squeeze to launch Google Assistant feature. Also, there is a headphone jack.
Running on Google’s version of Android, aka stock Android, the Pixel 3a, like other Pixel phones, is relatively easy to navigate and understand than phones running on custom-skin variants of Android. Another plus side (of Google Pixel phones) is that they get faster OS updates – as soon as they’re available – for three years from the time the phone’s launch than other phones.
At the back, it features a single 12.2MP camera with similar sensors and features as the Pixel 3. But, at the front, instead of a dual-camera setup of the Pixel 3 – one for wide-angle and one normal – the Pixel 3a only has a single 8MP camera. Other hardware differences between the two include the lack of Google’s custom ‘Pixel Visual Core’ processor in the 3a, which means that images are processed by its main CPU and GPU, which causes it to have a longer to save. But the result is the same. The Pixel 3a has all major features of the Pixel 3, including night sight, dancing AR cartoons, top shot, and the new time-lapse feature, which is available in all Pixel phones.
Photos captured by the Pixel 3a are just as excellent as those captured by the Pixel 3 and are very detailed with impressive dynamic range. Pictures captured by this phones are so brilliant that you’d have a hard time believing that it’s priced under Rs 40,000 – no other phone priced similarly captures photos as great as the Pixel 3a, especially in difficult settings such as shooting directly in the sun or low light conditions.
And there is no doubt that Night Sight feature is on another level.
The storage option offered with the phone, however, is quite disappointing. While the Pixel 3 offers free unlimited backup of photos in the original resolution, the Pixel 3a offers free backup of only high-quality images. And if you want to upload photos in the original quality, you’ll have to pay extra for storage.
So, the Pixel 3a has a decent design, good software, and a great camera! But here is the rub – like every inexpensive Android phone, the Pixel 3a also makes a few compromises.
The very first of which is its speed. To put it simply, it’s not fast. The 3a gets the job done, but you will notice it’s not smooth like high-end phones. In fact, it struggles with RAM management. Opening apps, editing photos and scrolling through apps are all lag-free, but still, you feel that the phone is not fast enough. The reason might be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor. While most smartphones that are priced lower than the Pixel 3a are packed with top-of-the-line processors, Google decided to stick with the Snapdragon 670 for the Pixel 3a.
The second is its display. A premium phone must have a great screen, which the first thing you look at in a smartphone. Some of the best screens on the phones flow from edge-to-edge and offer high resolutions and excellent brightness. The Pixel 3a doesn’t do any of that, but it’s still a decent screen at this price. The screen is OLED, meaning it offers vibrant colours and perfect black in every image. It also has an always-on display for time and notifications.
The one thing in which this phone is better than its older brother is battery life. And that’s because it has a full-HD display and low-powered hardware. And also, because it has a larger 3,000mAh battery as compared to the Pixel 3’s 2915mAh battery. During our test, the phone constantly delivered 5 to 6 hours of screen time, and, on heavy usage, it ran for almost a day.
If you can live a phone that’s not water-resistant and has a slow processor, the Google Pixel 3a is a steal, as it has an excellent camera, free storage, a 3.5mm jack and costs much less than its older brother – Pixel 3.
Price Rs 39,999
Price, excellent camera
No wireless charging