Last year if you told us Google is planning to creep inside OnePlus’ territory, we’d ask you to place your bets.
But evidently, you’re a year too late to collect your rewards. But will Google Pixel 3a be reaping any rewards by cramming a mid-range processor and marrying it off with a premium tier camera? Ah, the month of May just got hotter but most importantly, is the ‘budget’ Pixel really 3a-tening the upcoming OnePlus 7? You shall know as you read.
Google Pixel 3a body & screen: Back to 2017
Unpacking the Pixel 3a made us nostalgic (don’t laugh). It took us back to the era of ₹1000 rupee notes and chunky bezel displays. Both had their fare share of shelf life, albeit the ₹1000 will be missed more.
The black bars on the top and bottom of the Pixel 3a are hilariously dated but Pixel has always been about function over fashion. The fit and feel of the smartphone feels a year too late, just like your untimely bet. However, the build quality is great. Slightly plasticky but the rounded edges are easy on the grip and the two tone matte back keeps the Pixel 3a stuck to your hands.
If you look past the dated design, the FullHD+ gOLED screen that it surrounds, is quite good! Even Google knows people want vibrant colours, so the screen colours are kept on ‘Boosted’ by default. We got it down to natural and looks absolutely amazing. Contrast and blacks are kept in check so watching Netflix and YouTube videos is a treat and let’s just say GoT Season 8 episode 3 will look really good (read as: It’s got deep blacks). Brightness levels are as good as any OLED screen in the price range although not as eye searing as the Samsung Galaxy S10. Text is sharp and readable under direct sunlight too.
Google Pixel 3a processor and battery: It works but how well?
When you enter the budget arena to battle it out with heavy contenders like OnePlus, Oppo and Honor, every little detail counts. Every jargon on the spec sheet can add value to these fiercely priced smartphones. Sadly, the Snapdragon 670 is a step down. For a smartphone that starts from ₹39,999, OnePlus and Samsung S10e stand a better chance of being a daily driver.
The processor did show some fatigue while multitasking. Especially when clicking photos. The Pixel’s shutter speed suffers primarily because of this. The 3000mAh can last an entire day easily if you’re shuffling between WhatsApp and Twitter. Even a single round of PUBG, dare I say. But that’s about it, any more power hungry usage can drain the battery really fast but at least you’ve got Quick Charge 4 to juice up as quickly.
Google Pixel 3a OS: clearly cleaner
Pixel has always been Google’s idea of how Android should be and that is becoming increasingly better with each software update. Three years of guaranteed software and security updates? Sign us up.
Even if the processor might bog down a few expectations, the overall use of Android on the Pixel is still smooth. Apps open and shut effortlessly and if you like ranting about Liverpool’s comeback in UCL semis on WhatsApp and Twitter, the Pixel 3a won’t slow you down. Serious multitaskers can look away.
Squeezing the edges brings up Google Assistant and with the new update, there’s more talent in this voice butler than Siri or Bixby.
Google Pixel 3a camera: Pixel perfect
Here’s a smartphone that takes excellent pictures and doesn’t require a loan from your bank. Pixel 3a has seriously the best smartphone camera we’ve seen in this price segment. Even with multiple lens, the competition, doesn’t get the pictures as good as the Pixel.
You get all of Pixel 3’s rear camera features and that amazing software wizardry that handles exposure, colour balance and details so well. The single lens camera manages to take excellent portrait shots as well.
Pixel’s Night Sight will seriously make you forget the flash after the sun’s down. It brightens up the image very well, and reduces noise in the process. HDR images take some time to process like Night Sight but the results have a massive improvement in the picture quality. Moving objects don’t do so well with either so non-HDR photos are advisable for action shots.
Colour tone, colour temperature, detail, blacks and contrast - Pixel camera ticks all the right boxes. Even though the camera hasn’t changed much from the previous generation, we’ve truly fallen in love with the Pixel’s single lens rear camera and the 3a is designed for shutterbugs looking to bag a premium camera for less. The front single lens does a decent job as well but not as well as the Pixel 3 and that’s after losing the wide angle here.
Google Pixel 3a Verdict
Like the Nexus 5, the 3a is offering best in class Android experience and a very, very good camera, all for under ₹40,000. Which is frankly a lot compared to the US pricing and we’re not convinced by the processor for this kind of dosh. And if you consider the falling price of Pixel 3, 3a is in a very sticky situation.
For regular software updates and seamless Android experience, the 3a could excite your wallet after a discount or price drop. There’s even a headphone jack and bundled earphones in the box so it’ll slide into your regular life without having to buy anything aside from the phone. We really wish the price was slightly lower but if this means bagging a premium camera in this segment, it might just convince the nerds.