Google Pixel 3a XL

£469 (New from Google Store)
9.4

Camera

10.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Audio

9.0/10

Display

10.0/10

Gaming

9.0/10

Pros

  • 3.5mm jack
  • No notch
  • Excellent camera

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Mid-range CPU

On May 7th 2019, at Google I/O, a new addition to the Pixel family was released.

The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are marketed as budget alternatives to their Pixel 3 counterparts. And while this may be the case, I’m happy to have made the switch from my very dated, and failing, Nexus 5X. (You treated me well, Nexus. I’ll miss you.)

Before I dive into it, it’s important I note that here I am reviewing the Pixel 3a XL, not the Pixel 3a. If you are in the market for a Pixel 3a, your mileage may vary.

The Box, And What’s In It

Pixel 3a XL box
Pixel 3a XL box

The box comes equipped with:

  • USB-C Male-to-Male cable
  • USB-C to Outlet adaptor
  • USB-A Female to USB-C Male adaptor
  • SIM removal pin
  • Warranty information
  • and the phone itself (duh)
Contents of the Pixel 3a XL box
Contents of the Pixel 3a XL box

Some Technical Specifications

For a full list of specifications, see them here the Google Store. I’ve summarised what I feel is the most important information below:

Screen6″ (152.4mm) OLED
Display2160 x 1080 @ 402ppi (18:9)
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 670 (up to 2.0 GHz)
RAM4 GB LPDDR4
Storage64 GB
Battery3700 mAh, fast charging
OSAndroid 9.0 Pie (with support for Q when it releases)
Camera12.2 MP f/1.8 Rear, 8 MP f/2.0 Front

Camera Comparison

I’ve taken a couple of sample photographs of the same subject with the camera on the Pixel 3a XL, and the Nexus 5X (my previous phone.)

As evident in the photographs, the camera and its associated app on the Pixel offers wider HDR and contrast. My old Nexus leaves the subject looking very washed out, and the trees in the background even more-so.

What’s Good?

The return of the 3.5mm jack port was – I’m sure – well received by many. Personally, I prefer digital audio via USB-C or Bluetooth headphones. However, it’s important to give people the option to use their existing hardware. While jack may be on the way out, change takes time.

The dreaded notch has also seen its demise this generation. Some of you hated the notch. Many of you may have felt it was a neat idea. If you did approve of it, you’re wrong.

The speakers are pretty great. It seems to me as if the phone has a built in LFE speaker, and so bass-filled audio sounds swell.

The camera is pretty phenomenal if you ask me. Taking photos in the day or in the night leads to excellent quality results. I’ve compared this camera to my previous camera above.

In a similar vain, the display is something I’m quite happy with. The contrast and saturation make for viewing HDR photos a pleasant experience.

What’s Bad?

No wireless charging was a deal-breaker for a good friend of mine. However, considering these models are budget alternatives, you can probably understand why they decided to do this. Take this into account when making your purchase decision.

The CPU is technically under-powered – but I’m willing to let this one slide since the performance on the device is pretty smooth and seamless and games seem to run perfectly. Plus, since it’s a huge step up from my previous phone, subjectively I’m inclined to let it slide even more.

Verdict

*drum-roll* 🥁🥁🥁🥁 ….

It’s up to you. Your choice of phone is an expression of personal preference. All I can do is recommend for or against a phone – and my recommendation will vary from person to person. A phone should suit your needs and if the 3a XL has everything you need, I would absolutely recommend this phone. If it lacks in areas that are important to you, that’s fine – you should choose something else. The decision is ultimately yours. All I can hope is that you don’t base your decision entirely on the ramblings by one guy on the internet.


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