The Google Pixel 3a Fuccs

Image: Alex Choros

The Google Pixel 3 was a contentious handset when it launched last year.

A good phone to be sure, but the price was a touch high for incremental upgrades to what the Pixel 2 was already packing.

But Google wasn't done. Last month it came in hot with its lite version of the device. Not only are the specs ridiculously similar to its bigger siblings, so is the camera. Oh and the battery is better.

In one fell swoop Google fucked the mid-range phone market. In fact, it may have even fucked the high range one. It redefined what consumers should expect for $650 and thus threw the phone landscape into glorious chaos. And I for one worship it.

The Google Pixel 3 Is Rugged AF

Something you should know about me is that I'm a klutz. One of the nicknames that my parents bestowed upon me during childhood was 'Super Spiller'. The other was 'Possum'. I've never been able to shake either moniker. My penchant for dropping shit has carried over into adulthood, and has resulted in a myriad of cracked and waterlogged phones over the years. Yeah, I even dropped an iPhone 4 in a toilet once. Okay, twice. When it comes to handsets I'm a walking stress test - a fact that was reinforced when I recently took a Google Pixel 3 XL on an 18km hike in the Blue Mountains.

Read more


Just The Specs, Please

Image: Tegan Jones

Much like the Google Pixel 3, the 3a comes in regular and XL variants.

The 3a is a little smaller, with a 5.6-inch 2160 x 1080 OLED display, with the XL coming in a 6-inches.

They also have almost-the-same cameras - 12.2MP on the rear and a god-tier 8MP selfie cam. But we'll get to that.

When it comes to the inside specs you'll find a Snapdragon 670 processor (a downgrade from the 845 that is in the 3 and 3 XL), as well as 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.

The batteries are larger than the standard Pixel 3 variants, with the 3a boasting 3,000mAH and the 3a XL 3,700mAH.

Most importantly of all - it has a headphone jack. It's at the top, which seems weird these days, but I'll take it.


What's Good About it?

Image: Tegan Jones

Camera

The standout feature of the 3a is the camera, which is almost the same as the regular 3 and 3 XL, minus the second front-facing camera and a few other minor specs.

While I still rate the Huawei P30 pro higher, this thing does an amazing job. And for $650 its a god damn ridiculous get.

Here's some regular shots:

When it comes to the front-facing camera, the 3a is black magic level good. It looks particularly good when you pop on portrait mode, which activates the bokeh effect on the background.

To be fair, the bokeh can be a hit and miss. As you can see above, it missed some of the faux leopard jacket on the back of my chair. I have found that the opposite can also happen, with parts of my hair being blurred when I have it out.

It's not perfect by any means, but I'm still impressed by how good everyone looks in the eyes of this selfie cam. I even don't hate my makeup-free shots as much. And for $650, I can forgive some imperfections when it comes to the portrait mode bokeh.

Night Sight is also impressive. While Huawei's P30 Pro has been may be dominating night mode in 2019, the 3a still does an incredible job by combining five frames being shot at different exposures and combining them together.

Here are some examples I got:

If you care about zoom at all, the 3a does okay when being zoomed by 2-5x (depending on the subject and lighting conditions) but don't expect miracles. The 3a relies on software for its zoom and thus can only do so much

Battery Life

The battery life on the 3a is a little better than the 3 and 3XL. I found that I ended most days with around 30 per cent battery and that's with bluetooth on, heavy use, etc. As someone who lives in a perpetual state of phone battery paranoia, I was pleased. I would say most people would comfortably get a full day of battery life, maybe a day and a half depending on your usage.

It Feels Good

Despite its plastic finish, the Pixel 3a still looks and feels premium.

Although I'm a little disappointed that the Purpleish version isn't coming to Australia, the Simply White version still looks lovely and doesn't have the cheap feel that some plastic chassis can have.

While it did take me awhile to get used to such a light device again, I found it to be a nice change from some of the chonky 2019 flagships, especially the hefty 5G models I've been testing lately.

My only criticism is of Google continuing the Pixel tradition of making the lock button fluorescent. I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, but I know that's very much a personal choice. Most people I talk to dig it.

No hate if you love it.


What's Not So Good About It?

WHY!?

Processor Speed

Downgrading from the Snapdragon 845 to the 670 does mean that the processing speed is a little slower. For the most part you probably won't notice it, but I have found some distinct lag in between taking shots at times - particularly when changing the photo mode or the orientation of the device.

While this certainly isn't a deal breaker (again, look at that price) I have found it to occasionally be annoying when I'm trying to take a bunch of shots.

No Water Resistance

Earlier this year I wrote about how the Google Pixel 3a is rugged AF . I discovered this while hiking in the Blue Mountains and subsequently dropping it in mud-clogged puddles. I also did this to it as an added stress test:

It came out just fine both times, and I was damn impressed.

Sadly that Pixel 3a does not have the same IP68 rating, which is a shame because it's one of my favourite features.

But again, it's a mid-range phone so I can't be too mad.

Should You Buy It?

Image: Tegan Jones

I'm not your real dad so I don't want to tell you what to do with your life.

But in a time where some phones with really average specs are costing over $1,000 and the best ones are pushing towards $2,500 - the Google Pixel 3a is an extremely good buy.

If you're someone who wants something a little more than a basic phone, but don't want to sell a kidney for a big-name flagship - this could be your answer.

Sure, it isn't perfect but it does get the two most important consumer elements right - the camera and battery life.

No one had offered specs that good that cheap until the Huawei P30 Lite was released a couple of weeks ago. We'll let you know our verdict on that one once we've finished testing.

Even so, it's difficult to recommend a Huawei device (as good as they are) until there is more clarity on what's going on with the Google Ban.

When it comes down to it, Google has done something utterly unique with the pricing strategy around the Pixel 3a. It's changed the game and it's about bloody time.

The Google Pixel 3a Is Available In Australia Now

Earlier this morning the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL were announced during the I/O 2019 keynote. Thanks to the leaks leading up to the launch, there aren't a lot of surprises when it comes to the specs of the new baby Pixel. But we were surprised to hear that you can buy one in Australia from today.

Read more

Trending Stories Right Now