The Google Pixel 3a makes a robust case for tossing out the spec sheet. On paper, it seems like one more boring finances smartphone, with a middling processor, single entrance and rear cameras, and a bare-minimum 1080p display screen. But in your pocket, you may simply mistake it for a premium cellphone.

Part of the rationale why is as a result of, effectively, it’s a Pixel. Specifically, it seems lots just like the notchless Pixel 3 and the rumored design for the Pixel 4, and naturally, it runs the most recent model of Android. But whereas the high-priced G-stamped telephones all the time left one thing to be desired when it got here to design, the $399 Pixel 3a seems like a finances cellphone however acts like a premium one. It’s virtually like Google has been setting us up for this all alongside.

Ignoring the numbers recreation

For so long as high-end Android telephones have existed, we’ve been educated to imagine that we want the largest battery and finest processor to get the perfect expertise. As such, handsets have crossed the thousand-dollar threshold to provide us the specs they’ve satisfied us we want, as premium telephones have all sought to outdo one another with cameras, RAM, storage, and pixels.

Michael Simon/IDG

You can squeeze the perimeters of the Pixel 3a to summon Google Assistant.

The Pixel 3a does none of that. Spec-, design-, and most significantly, price-wise, it’s the antithesis of a premium Android cellphone. It’s made from plastic somewhat than glass, has a Full HD display screen as an alternative of a Quad HD one, and its inside attributes are decidedly non-premium as effectively:

  • Processor: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Front digicam: 8MP, f/2.0
  • Rear digicam: 12MP, f/1.8, OIS

But numbers aren’t what the Pixel 3a is promoting. Much just like the premium Pixel—which additionally has simply 4GB of RAM and 64GB of base storage—the 3a makes essentially the most of its elements, providing an Android expertise that rivals telephones that value greater than twice as a lot. Plus it has a headphone jack, which makes the dearth of 1 on the higher-priced Pixel extra obvious. I’d like an choice for extra storage or at the very least a slot for an SD card, however because it stands, the Pixel 3a maxes out at a comparatively paltry 64GB of storage. Keep in thoughts that you just don’t get free limitless storage of images in authentic high quality such as you do on the Pixel 3, so house may turn out to be a problem.

In benchmarks, the Pixel 3a’s Snapdragon 670 scored round 7,250 within the PCMark Work 2.0 take a look at, decrease than the Snapdragon 845-based Pixel 3’s 8,828, however not crippling by any stretch. Geekbench 4 returned comparable outcomes, with the Pixel 3a posting a 1,600/5,125 (single-core/multi-core) rating versus 2,358/8,337 on the Pixel 3, however all in all, the Snapdragon 670 wasn’t as laggy as I anticipated. Only sometimes throughout my testing was I consciously conscious that I wasn’t utilizing a near-thousand-dollar cellphone, and even then, it was fleeting. More usually than not, I forgot that I wasn’t utilizing the grown-up Pixel.

pixel 3a android Michael Simon/IDG

The Pixel 3a runs the most recent model of Android—and can till Android S in 2021.

That’s as a result of Google has taken an iOS-like strategy with the Pixel 3a. Instead of constructing a cellphone optimized to run Android, Google has optimized Android for the handset to the purpose the place the Pixel 3, which prices twice as a lot, doesn’t really feel all that a lot sooner than the 3a in regular use. Even with a lesser processor, Android Pie on the Pixel 3a is as quick or sooner than it’s on telephones that value twice as a lot. Little touches like Now Playing (which listens to background audio to robotically ID songs on the lock display screen and notification panel) are pleasant with out dragging issues down. And since you’re assured to get three years of Android updates—one thing few telephones on this value vary can promise—your Pixel 3a may really really feel sooner at the same time as its {hardware} ages.

A design that lastly matches

The Pixel cellphone’s design has by no means challenged the iPhones and Galaxies of the world, so the Pixel 3a’s huge bezels and plastic again don’t actually really feel misplaced. It’s noticeably lighter than its all-glass older sibling, however in the proper gentle, it might simply be mistaken for Google’s greater priced Pixel 3, proper right down to the coloured energy button (yellow on the purple mannequin and orange on the white one). That’s as a lot of an indictment of the Pixel 3 as it’s a complement to the Pixel 3a, however the truth stays that the design right here feels proper.

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