Hands on with the Google Pixel 3a XL - performance from 2016 with a 2019 camera

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 8
The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are official, and pair iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 performance with a modern camera for a fairly solid mid-range smartphone.


Google Pixel 3a XL


At Tuesday's Google IO keynote, the company added to its Pixel line, with the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. They went on sale nearly immediately.

An affordable Pixel device

The Google Pixel 3a comes in two different flavors -- a smaller Pixel 3a with a 5.6-inch Full HD display, and a bigger XL version with a 6-inch Full HD display. Both of these models are OLED, an impressive feature for a mid-range smartphone. It also comes in three different color options, such as Just Black, Clearly White, and a new Purple-ish color.



A design that's familiar

The Pixel 3a's design is very reminiscent of Google's flagship Pixel 3 from the single camera and fingerprint reader in the back, to the unibody two-tone design. When Google introduced this two-tone design for the Pixel 3 they were finally able to add wireless charging to its phones. We were hoping that Google will keep its wireless charging capabilities from its flagship Pixel 3, but unfortunately that doesn't carry over to this mid-range device.

The Pixel 3a family also doesn't have water resistance, and also lacks stereo speakers. The speakers do get very loud, but lacks the clarity and bass from the much more expensive Pixel 3.

The Pixel 3a still carries a lot of the Pixel 3's camera traits such as Night Sight which is incredibly useful for night time photography, and it also features the Pixel's great photo processing power and its AI powered Portrait Mode. One missing feature on the camera front is the wide angle field of view for selfies, but from the looks of it, it's still wider than the iPhone's front facing camera.

We can't say for certain yet whether image quality matches the Pixel 3, but photos do look sharp and vibrant. We'll be looking at this closer soon.


Google Pixel 3a XL

Made with budget in mind

The Pixel 3a is priced at the low-end of Apple's product offerings, and is a mid-range Android device, so don't expect to see the latest and greatest processor inside. Both devices are equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 670 processor, an Adreno 615 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

In our Geekbench test the Pixel 3a scored a single core score of 1603, and a multi core score of 5173. This is similar performance to the 2013 iPhone 6 single-core, and the 2016 iPhone 7 for multiple core jobs.

It's obviously not going to be a blazing fast phone like its flagship brother or Samsung's Galaxy S10, but it still packs a decent processor that should get you by day to day, depending on your use cases.


Google Pixel 3a XL


It's running Android 9.0 Pie out of the box, and in typical Pixel fashion, it's clean. There's no bloatware, it's very minimal looking, and as of right now it's running as smooth as butter. W'll see how this performs a few months from now since Google's Pixel 3 has a reputation for inexplicable slowdowns, so we're expecting similar results with the Pixel 3a over time. We'll keep you posted in the next few months and see how it's holding up.



The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL is available to order now online, or in stores for $399 and $479 respectively. We will be doing a full comparison between the Pixel 3a XL, the $569 iPhone 7 Plus, and the $749 iPhone XR in the coming days to see how they stack up to Google's offering.

Ways to save on pre-orders

Google's Pixel 3a is available for pre-order at B&H Photo with a free $100 e-Gift Card and free Mint Mobile 3-month 8GB Prepaid SIM Card Kit. Priced at $399, each Pixel 3a also includes free expedited shipping within the contiguous U.S. Shoppers looking to sign up for B&H's new Payboo Credit Card can also receive a sales tax refund instantly on orders shipped to qualifying states.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 220member
    So, Google tackles a market that Apple continually chooses to ignore. The sub $500 phone demand (that's growing).

    I hope the Pixel 3a sells well. If it does, we'll probably see an iPhone SE 2. Apple being reactionary and not visionary anymore.
    bigtdschemenginCarnage
  • Reply 2 of 31
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,129moderator
    It's obviously not going to be a blazing fast phone like its flagship brother or Samsung's Galaxy S10, but it still packs a decent processor that should get you by day to day, depending on your use cases.”

    Not for $400!  You can get an actual iPhone 7 Plus (which this matches in dual core performance) with 256gb storage for less than $400!  And it’ll have a dual rear camera that provides 2x optical telephoto and more.  
    thttmayracerhomie3cornchipmagman1979leavingthebiggStrangeDayslolliverchasmpscooter63
  • Reply 3 of 31
    smaffei said:
    So, Google tackles a market that Apple continually chooses to ignore. The sub $500 phone demand (that's growing).

    I hope the Pixel 3a sells well. If it does, we'll probably see an iPhone SE 2. Apple being reactionary and not visionary anymore.
    Apart from the $449 iPhone 7 that Apple sells of course...
    racerhomie3cornchipStrangeDayslolliverchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 31
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,186member
    smaffei said:
    So, Google tackles a market that Apple continually chooses to ignore. The sub $500 phone demand (that's growing).

    I hope the Pixel 3a sells well. If it does, we'll probably see an iPhone SE 2. Apple being reactionary and not visionary anymore.
    Apart from the $449 iPhone 7 that Apple sells of course...
    The problem is the iPhone 7 is several years old. This phone is new. I wish Apple had a lower-end phone that got updated with a newer body more frequently. Maybe do colored aluminum like they used to do with iPods or a nice plastic where you could update colors similar to what they do with Apple Watch bands. Maybe the internals would come from the previous model or two but the device itself looked new/fresh. But don’t follow the iPhone 5C path from a naming/branding standpoint. Don’t reference a previous phone. Don’t say this is just like an iPhone 7 (which will make people think it’s old). Just talk up how powerful and capable it is for the price. People will buy it if it looks new and nice.

    Honestly with the changes to phones now being mostly incremental companies have to look for other ways to get people to buy. One way is updating the looks of the device. Here I think Google failed  a bit, these devices look boring. Apple could win here by going back to the colorful days of the iPod nano.
    chemenginmuthuk_vanalingambala1234Carnage
  • Reply 5 of 31
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,153member
    Meh. Just get a iPhone 7 with 128GB storage & as a bonus it takes excellent video.
    edited May 8 cornchiplolliverchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,094member
    Meh. Just get a iPhone 7 with 128GB storage & as a bonus it takes excellent video.
    For fans of Apple, or those who've not committed to any particular platform yet I might agree. You for instance should get an iPhone 7. It may or may not continue to get updates for yet another four years like the these Pixel's but for the price who cares? It's quite fairly priced and will pretty much do every common task a regular user asks of it about as well as one of the newest iPhones would. 

    Now will buyers in carrier stores see it the same way? Probably not IMO if the choice is between the latest Pixel model and an iPhone introduced in 2016, all else being equal. 
    edited May 8 muthuk_vanalingamCarnage
  • Reply 7 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,178member
    gatorguy said:
    Meh. Just get a iPhone 7 with 128GB storage & as a bonus it takes excellent video.
    For fans of Apple, or those who've not committed to any particular platform yet I might agree. You for instance should get an iPhone 7. It may or may not continue to get updates for yet another four years like the these Pixel's but for the price who cares? It's quite fairly priced and will pretty much do every common task a regular user asks of it about as well as one of the newest iPhones would. 

    Now will buyers in carrier stores see it the same way? Probably not IMO if the choice is between the latest Pixel model and an iPhone introduced in 2016, all else being equal. 
     Yep. Selling old handsets is never an easy task. The minute someone says 'this model is two years old' the truly new model picks up a clear advantage.

    It's just one of the issues with Apple's business model in 2019. Rogifan_New pointed out others too. The iPhone 7 even looks dated.
    muthuk_vanalingamCarnage
  • Reply 8 of 31
    clarker99clarker99 Posts: 216member
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    StrangeDayslolliverchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,178member
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    We understand.

    However, It's not what Apple wants. It's what consumers want. 

    The problem:

    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.

    The solution?:

    Price adjustments
    Competitive hardware
    Retail improvements
    Business model changes

    That last point began to shape in 2017. The 'limited period' increased trade-in value from 2018 (a last-minute emergency measure) is still applicable over five months later. For 2019 I expect further changes.


    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 31
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,136member
    2013 called, they want their POS plastic, underperforming garbage back!
    StrangeDayslolliverpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    clarker99clarker99 Posts: 216member
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    We understand.

    However, It's not what Apple wants. It's what consumers want. 

    The problem:

    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.

    The solution?:

    Price adjustments
    Competitive hardware
    Retail improvements
    Business model changes

    That last point began to shape in 2017. The 'limited period' increased trade-in value from 2018 (a last-minute emergency measure) is still applicable over five months later. For 2019 I expect further changes.


    Remove China from the numbers and everything is fine.  But keep up the narrative that Apple doesnt know what its doing 🙄
    tmayStrangeDayslolliverpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,178member
    clarker99 said:
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    We understand.

    However, It's not what Apple wants. It's what consumers want. 

    The problem:

    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.

    The solution?:

    Price adjustments
    Competitive hardware
    Retail improvements
    Business model changes

    That last point began to shape in 2017. The 'limited period' increased trade-in value from 2018 (a last-minute emergency measure) is still applicable over five months later. For 2019 I expect further changes.


    Remove China from the numbers and everything is fine.  But keep up the narrative that Apple doesnt know what its doing ߙ䦬t;br>
    If I removed China everything wouldn't be fine. First, the markets would throw a wobbly on Apple, the likes of which you have never seen. Second. That last minute extended and increased trade in value isn't only applicable in China. That tells us the slowdown might have worse been in China but definitely wasn't limited to China.

    The narrative that Apple doesn't know what it's doing doesn't exist. Tim Cook went on record as saying they miscalculated.

    Apple took the risks but knew them 




    edited May 8 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 31
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,537member
    smaffei said:
    So, Google tackles a market that Apple continually chooses to ignore. The sub $500 phone demand (that's growing).

    I hope the Pixel 3a sells well. If it does, we'll probably see an iPhone SE 2. Apple being reactionary and not visionary anymore.
    Lol what a silly thing to say. Google making cheaper phones because nobody is buying their expensive phones doesn’t make them visionary and Apple reactionary. 

    What are Google‘s big “visions” anyway? Online ads, nope isn’t new. An iOS clone, nope that isn’t new either. 
    edited May 8 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 31
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,935member
    gatorguy said:
    Meh. Just get a iPhone 7 with 128GB storage & as a bonus it takes excellent video.
    For fans of Apple, or those who've not committed to any particular platform yet I might agree. You for instance should get an iPhone 7. It may or may not continue to get updates for yet another four years like the these Pixel's but for the price who cares? It's quite fairly priced and will pretty much do every common task a regular user asks of it about as well as one of the newest iPhones would. 

    Now will buyers in carrier stores see it the same way? Probably not IMO if the choice is between the latest Pixel model and an iPhone introduced in 2016, all else being equal. 
    All else isn't equal.

    OS preference is a still a "thing", as is preference of ecosystem. As I've noted to Avon B7 over and over again, there is an iPhone market. and an Android OS market, and very little leaking of one side to another. Pixel 3A is priced to compete with Android OS devices. It may draw some iOS users, but in three weeks, iOS 13 will be announced, as well as Marzipan, strengthening Apple's ecosystem, and as usual, Apple will be releasing the iPhones in September.

    I don't see much reason to leave Apple's walled garden, and I don't expect other current iPhone users to either.
    edited May 8 StrangeDayslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 31
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,537member

    smaffei said:
    So, Google tackles a market that Apple continually chooses to ignore. The sub $500 phone demand (that's growing).

    I hope the Pixel 3a sells well. If it does, we'll probably see an iPhone SE 2. Apple being reactionary and not visionary anymore.
    Apart from the $449 iPhone 7 that Apple sells of course...
    The problem is the iPhone 7 is several years old. This phone is new. I wish Apple had a lower-end phone that got updated with a newer body more frequently. 
    It absolutely does not matter if the 7 is older, if you’re a price-minded consumer. A friend wanted to switch to iphone but didn’t want to spend a lot. He got the 7 based on price point. It’s certainly snappy and fast enough for him. No thoughts given to what year it came out. That’s phone nerd stuff, not normals stuff. 
    tmaylolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,537member

    avon b7 said:
    gatorguy said:
    Meh. Just get a iPhone 7 with 128GB storage & as a bonus it takes excellent video.
    For fans of Apple, or those who've not committed to any particular platform yet I might agree. You for instance should get an iPhone 7. It may or may not continue to get updates for yet another four years like the these Pixel's but for the price who cares? It's quite fairly priced and will pretty much do every common task a regular user asks of it about as well as one of the newest iPhones would. 

    Now will buyers in carrier stores see it the same way? Probably not IMO if the choice is between the latest Pixel model and an iPhone introduced in 2016, all else being equal. 
     Yep. Selling old handsets is never an easy task. The minute someone says 'this model is two years old' the truly new model picks up a clear advantage.

    It's just one of the issues with Apple's business model in 2019. Rogifan_New pointed out others too. The iPhone 7 even looks dated.
    Nope. It looks like an iPhone. A nice one. 

    You know what looks dated? Your knockoff brand’s Kentucky Fried Chicken phone from about the same time. lol


    edited May 8 lolliverpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 31
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,537member

    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.
    Every time somebody says “But but but these are iterative improvements!” it immediately flags them as someone ignorant to how Apple rolls. Iterative product development is the name of their game. Gruber wrote about this almost a decade ago. Read up.


    ...doing this consistently is how you have something amazingly better years later. Iteration.

    edited May 8 lolliverpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31
    clarker99clarker99 Posts: 216member
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    We understand.

    However, It's not what Apple wants. It's what consumers want. 

    The problem:

    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.

    The solution?:

    Price adjustments
    Competitive hardware
    Retail improvements
    Business model changes

    That last point began to shape in 2017. The 'limited period' increased trade-in value from 2018 (a last-minute emergency measure) is still applicable over five months later. For 2019 I expect further changes.


    Remove China from the numbers and everything is fine.  But keep up the narrative that Apple doesnt know what its doing ߙ䦬t;br>
    If I removed China everything wouldn't be fine. First, the markets would throw a wobbly on Apple, the likes of which you have never seen. Second. That last minute extended and increased trade in value isn't only applicable in China. That tells us the slowdown might have worse been in China but definitely wasn't limited to China.

    The narrative that Apple doesn't know what it's doing doesn't exist. Tim Cook went on record as saying they miscalculated.

    Apple took the risks but knew them 




    sigh. It was largely China. That is well known and Tim acknowledged things got better at the end of the quarter.They are adding users, which really is the neglected narrative. Which means  people are buying iPhones.  Apple doesnt care if they are new models, gray market or hand me down otherwise they would sell cheaper ‘new’ phones. People just dont get it.  

    Apple is not going to lower their prices in USA or other wealthier countries. Price is not the problem. If it was, Apple would have been dead years ago.


    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,178member

    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.
    Every time somebody says “But but but these are iterative improvements!” it immediately flags them as someone ignorant to how Apple rolls. Iterative product development is the name of their game. Gruber wrote about this almost a decade ago. Read up.


    ...doing this consistently is how you have something amazingly better years later. Iteration.

    I know. We all know how Apple rolls.

    That doesn't change anything and isn't even the point.

    The fact is Apple is behind in most of the key smartphone areas - as a result - of how it rolls.

    Perhaps (and only perhaps) from a business/investor perspective, it can be understood - even after three years of stagnant iPhone sales.

    However, from a consumer perspective, Apple simply isn't doing enough to reach the front runners. Yes, because of the way it rolls, if you please, but that is irrelevant. Now, with each major Android flagship presentation, the latest iPhones get thrown up on screen to show how poorly they do in certain areas. Even the lowly Pixel 3a got in on the act at its presentation.

    Two consecutive quarters of YoY decline have sent alarm bells ringing.

    Falling even further behind is not an option so expect at least an effort (plus price drops) come this September.

    IMO, it's time for Apple to change how it rolls.

    In fact Apple did actually begin that change in 2017. Now it is time to tackle that iterative angle.


    edited May 8 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,178member
    clarker99 said:
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    avon b7 said:
    clarker99 said:
    As per usual folks pop up and cleary dont get that Apple doesnt need a ‘new’ mid-range device every year. Apple maintains higher prices at the premium end to prop up its amazing gray market. People fundamentally do not understand Apple’s pricing strategy. It is all about maintaining brand/price integrity. Apple’s trade in program is also about controlling the gray market prices. If Apple wants to give $250 for an iPhone 6s trade-in it sets a floor for 2nd hand iPhone value. Why sell it for less if Apple will give $250. 

    Meanwhile, the iOS install base continues to grow.
    We understand.

    However, It's not what Apple wants. It's what consumers want. 

    The problem:

    Three years of stagnant growth. Two consecutive YoY, double digit drops in iPhone shipments. Iterative upgrades. Price increases. Drop off in satisfaction at Apple Retail. Fierce competition.

    The solution?:

    Price adjustments
    Competitive hardware
    Retail improvements
    Business model changes

    That last point began to shape in 2017. The 'limited period' increased trade-in value from 2018 (a last-minute emergency measure) is still applicable over five months later. For 2019 I expect further changes.


    Remove China from the numbers and everything is fine.  But keep up the narrative that Apple doesnt know what its doing ߙ䦬t;br>
    If I removed China everything wouldn't be fine. First, the markets would throw a wobbly on Apple, the likes of which you have never seen. Second. That last minute extended and increased trade in value isn't only applicable in China. That tells us the slowdown might have worse been in China but definitely wasn't limited to China.

    The narrative that Apple doesn't know what it's doing doesn't exist. Tim Cook went on record as saying they miscalculated.

    Apple took the risks but knew them 




    sigh. It was largely China. That is well known and Tim acknowledged things got better at the end of the quarter.They are adding users, which really is the neglected narrative. Which means  people are buying iPhones.  Apple doesnt care if they are new models, gray market or hand me down otherwise they would sell cheaper ‘new’ phones. People just dont get it.  

    Apple is not going to lower their prices in USA or other wealthier countries. Price is not the problem. If it was, Apple would have been dead years ago.


    What do you think 'things got better' means?

    That things are back to normal? No. Even while 'getting better' things were still bad.

    That's why Apple's special, time limited, steep trade in offers are still in place and still on Apple's front page.


    edited May 8 muthuk_vanalingam
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