Google Pixel 3a XL: A evaluation at six months

Google hasn’t ever had an issue making top class telephones. For the reason that liberate of the Nexus lineup, we’ve observed the corporate spouse with handset makers to ship fine quality telephones and pills, a few of that have been loads of greenbacks lower than the contest.

Those choices have been the entire extra attractive since they got here with natural Android, speedy updates, and years of improve from each Google and a group of builders thru customized ROMs and tweaks.

The hunt large determined to take a brand new direction a couple of years in the past, killing off the Nexus lineup in favor of Pixel devices. Long past have been the times of inexpensive gadgets as we have been offered to Google’s imaginative and prescient of a flagship. Shoppers used to affordable annual {hardware} updates needed to glance in any other path.

However, Google is converting direction once more. The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are a go back to reasonably priced {hardware} with a blank construct of Android. If that wasn’t sexy sufficient, the similar lauded digicam from closing 12 months’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL are on board. A in reality compelling package deal, and focused on below $500.

We’ve spent the previous few months dwelling with the Pixel 3a XL and that is what we discovered.

{Hardware} and design

In the event you’ve by no means held a Pixel tool on your hand, it’s possible you’ll now not know the way dominating it may be. Those don’t seem to be the pencil-thin gadgets the place bezels pass to die or extremely tall display screen side ratios. They’re giant, extensive, and the display screen turns out to stretch for miles. That’s no other with the Pixel 3a XL.

The adaptation this 12 months is that the tool is produced from plastic as a substitute of glass– however that’s now not a nasty factor. We’ve lengthy since deserted plastic gadgets and (myself incorporated) have assumed that tumbler backs have been as just right as you might want to get. They really feel nice and glance incredible, however include the disadvantage of scratches and cracks.

With the Pixel 3a XL, I’ve modified how I exploit my telephone. I’ve by no means been overly cautious with my gadgets up to now anyway, however now I don’t fear about my telephone breaking in any respect.

Certain, I do take a look at to offer protection to the display screen however I think significantly better about tossing this into my bag than I’d with any other, way more breakable tool. It’s liberating in some way that I had forgotten about.

And to be fair, this all nonetheless feels lovely great. This isn’t the gross plastic protecting of the Samsung Galaxy S5, nevertheless it’s onerous and feels nice within the hand, like a fine quality product that you simply’d don’t have any drawback paying the cash for.

Because of the plastic again, fingerprints are now not an issue and the doubtless deep scratches of the Pixel 3 are long past, too. Google in point of fact killed it right here.

The largest drawback most of the people may have with the Pixel 3a XL comes at the entrance of the tool. In an international of waterdrop notches and pop-up cameras, the Pixel 3a XL is going in any other path.

Large bezels beautify each the highest and backside of the tool. This wasn’t such a lot an issue with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL as a result of there have been front-firing audio system in that area, however that’s now not the case right here. The 3a XL does have nice stereo audio system, however they’re now not front-firing; fairly choosing an earpiece and downward firing speaker grill like we see in maximum telephones with stereo audio system.

If bezels are a subject matter for you, this isn’t the telephone for you. However all over my time with the Pixel 3a XL, I by no means had a subject matter. Those previous few months, I by no means spotted the “gigantic” notch and I don’t realize the massive bezels right here both. I simplest see the (slightly great) show and listen to the incredible audio popping out of the audio system. It’s now not going to be for everybody, however if you happen to don’t care about screen-to-body ratios, it is a just right are compatible.

Hiding between the ones two bezels is a in point of fact great OLED show. Worth would point out that we’d see an LCD right here as with in a similar way priced telephones just like the ASUS ZenFone 6, however Google used to be in a position to stay with OELD and it pushes the enjoy from great to nice. The colours pop, blacks are splendidly deep and the always-on-display stays a depended on method to look at your notifications and transfer on. I don’t assume I’d be so prime in this tool if the OLED panel wasn’t right here.

Sneaking across the aspects of the tool, we discover SIM card tray on close to the highest of the left facet with all the buttons at the proper facet. A quantity rocker sits below the facility button with not anything else to file but even so the Energetic Edge characteristic that lets you open Google Assistant by means of squeezing your telephone. This can be a acquainted characteristic that has been round for years now and one that I revel in.

I do in finding myself triggering Assistant unintentionally every so often, however Google means that you can retrain the sensitivity in tool to fit your wishes.

There are different gadgets that price much less and have “extra top class” fabrics. There are gadgets which might be tougher. However, there are few that I believe will proceed to appear as just right years down the street. Google struck a in point of fact great steadiness right here and whilst it’s now not going to blow away fanatics, it’s going to be nice for most of the people. That’s precisely what Google used to be going for.

And it has a headphone jack. What extra may just you ask for?


The Pixel 3a XL got here out of the field working inventory Android 9.0 Pie with Google’s Pixel Enjoy improvements on best and has since been upgraded to Android 10. Updates come quicker than every other Android OEM now not named Crucial, however do lag just a bit bit at the back of the dearer Pixel 3/XL and 4/XL. Those delays are counted in days or perhaps weeks, now not months.

In the event you benefit from the tool enjoy on every other Pixel, you’ll in finding no actual variations right here. It’s speedy, fluid, and lacks the cumbersome options that different OEMs cram into their gadgets. As an apart, it’s ok to love the ones options. We get so stuck up in “natural” Android that we from time to time gloss over the truth that different telephones send with tool options the Pixels don’t have.

Anyway, again on subject. In my time the usage of the OnePlus 7 Professional as my day by day motive force, I forgot about one of the vital helpful options that I in point of fact loved at the Pixel 3/XL and 4/XL. Some of the distinguished is name screening. I’ve T-Mobile so unsolicited mail calls are unrelenting. Whilst Large Magenta has accomplished a just right task chopping down on them in fresh months, they’re nonetheless right here and speak to screening is a surprise.

Name screening works with only a press of a button. As a substitute of simply your commonplace solution and decline buttons, you additionally get the solution to display screen the decision.

A recording will arise mentioning that you simply’re the usage of an answering carrier and can obtain a transcript of the decision. It then asks the caller to spot who they’re and why they’re calling, showing the ones solutions for you. You’re given more than one fast answer buttons on the backside to invite extra questions or finish the decision. It’s an incredible characteristic and one I’ve used again and again.

I’ve heard other people name the Pixel line the “Google iPhone” ahead of and that’s high-quality. I suppose we will be able to simply say that the flagships listed below are iPhone-like and transfer on however the one drawback I’ve with this analogy is that Apple forces you into its tool imaginative and prescient while Google gifts its to you.

It’s gentle, it’s brilliant, and it does the issues you wish to have with out you pondering. However if you happen to don’t need any of that, you’ll be able to exchange it. Do you wish to have to put in 1000 apps that each one paintings in combination and proportion information and information between them? Opt for it. Darkish mode is in nearly each Google app now and got here system-wide with the Android 10 update.

Google has a imaginative and prescient for Android, that a lot is apparent. However that doesn’t should be your imaginative and prescient so that you can love this telephone. You do have to like iOS to like Apple’s telephones, too, and that’s a large space the place Google will ranking issues with customers. It’s a space the place it will have to be instructing customers and if it does, I believe it crushes Apple’s hottest telephone, the iPhone XR.


Digicam is core to the enjoy of a Pixel telephone. If you wish to have merely the most efficient digicam available in the market, you select up a Pixel. That a lot has been identified for years. However we’ve by no means handled a “price range Pixel” ahead of. Maximum price range telephones lower corners to economize and one of the perfect techniques to chop prices is choosing a serviceable, however now not just right, digicam.

Google went any other direction, depending on its digicam to promote devices as it is aware of pictures and whole smartly how one can get the whole lot conceivable out of that sensor. The hunt large is a grasp of computational pictures and it presentations with the Pixel 3a XL.

The digicam setup is most commonly the similar because the more-expensive Pixel 3 XL. We have now a unmarried rear 12.2 MP shooter with an f/1.8 aperture at 28mm, optical and digital symbol stabilization, twin pixel PDAF, and a dual-LED flash.

The place issues begin to fluctuate is round entrance. As a substitute of a dual-lens setup, there’s a unmarried 8 MP f/2.0 lens at 24mm that helps HDR capturing. Long past is the wide-angle lens that allowed for group-shot selfies. We’re additionally lacking the Pixel Visible Core, a devoted chip throughout the tool that allowed for sooner image processing.

In spite of the ones lacking options, the enjoy right here remains to be nice. Footage glance incredible and lively. The portrait mode delivers nice bokeh and Nightsight nonetheless blows me away with how a lot gentle it could pull out of a scene.

The largest exchange from the Pixel 3 XL to the 3a XL is simply how briskly the ones footage get processed. Occasionally I do in finding myself ready round somewhat bit for the slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor to complete operating on my footage, however I truthfully don’t in point of fact care.

Battery and Efficiency

I want I may just inform you that this sub-$500 telephone punched above its weight and went toe-to-toe with telephones that dwarf its price ticket. Sadly, I will’t.

What I will say, despite the fact that, is that the Pixel 3a XL is ok. It completes duties in a well timed style and I’ve but to peer circumstances of dropped frames or onerous stuttering.

It does take longer to finish duties than telephones with flagship-level processors, however that’s to be anticipated. This doesn’t have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 just like the Samsung Galaxy S10, LG G8, or OnePlus 7 Pro, nevertheless it additionally doesn’t have that roughly price ticket both.

The tool comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of interior garage. The ones are kind of what we’d be expecting to peer at this value in 2019 and are only a step under the large boys who robotically pack in 6GB+ of RAM and 128GB of garage.

We did see problems with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL’s “simplest” 4 GB of RAM when the gadgets first got here out, however Google turns out to have figured the ones out. Now not do tune streaming apps die within the background after they’re closed, and that’s a reduction. However, I did realize that it couldn’t cling too many apps in reminiscence, which result in longer loading instances down the street.

Battery existence, however, is a big win. It’s onerous to not evaluate this tool to the Pixel 3 XL launched overdue closing 12 months on this appreciate as a result of I used to be lovely disenchanted that telephone’s battery existence.

Whilst I did in most cases get in the course of the day, it used to be simply slightly. Energy customers constantly had problems doing so. Fortunately there used to be speedy charging and wi-fi charging on board to stay customers juiced up all over the day.

Whilst speedy charging does go back for the 3a XL, wi-fi charging does now not — and that’s a bummer. It’s one of my favourite options on telephones lately.

I don’t ever do medical trying out on battery existence as a result of that is a space that varies broadly from individual to individual. I don’t assume numbers in point of fact inform the tale. So, let me inform you somewhat bit about how I exploit my telephone and the effects I am getting.

First off, what I don’t do. I don’t play a ton of video games and in most cases simplest do in an effort to take a look at out telephone efficiency right here and there. I don’t snap a ton of images or file 4K video except I’m doing so for a evaluation. I additionally don’t do extraordinarily lengthy video streaming classes as a result of I’ve a TV for that.

My day by day utilization is composed of a number of hours of tune streaming within the background, no less than two hours on Reddit killing time and studying articles, five to ten telephone calls that closing anyplace from a minute to a part an hour, and syncing 10+ e mail accounts. I in most cases kill telephones by means of the tip of the day with someplace round 5 hours of Display screen on Time on the maximum.

All over my evaluation length I by no means as soon as had a subject matter with the Pixel 3a XL loss of life, and even coming remotely shut. If truth be told, I went previous six hours of display screen on time a number of instances with 20-30% of my battery left on the finish of the day.

I’ve held up the OnePlus 6T as my battery champ within the closing 12 months and that lengthy battery existence is one of the explanations that I’ve used it as my day by day motive force for goodbye. The Pixel 3a XL is true there with it and I’d don’t have any drawback taking it with me once I know I’m going to make use of it closely for a complete day.


Price range telephones have lengthy made sense for most of the people. If you’ll be able to select up 90% of the telephone for 50% of the associated fee, that’s a just right compromise, proper? It kind of feels that whilst the common sense is there, customers disagreed. Flagships are nonetheless probably the most thrilling factor in Android with maximum headlines devoted to new chapters from Samsung, LG, and OnePlus.

In spite of that, Google has taken a web page from Motorola’s e book and launched a in reality compelling mid-range tool that delivers in just about ever side. Certain, we’re lacking options like an IP ranking, wi-fi charging, and oodles of RAM, however now we have the whole lot we’d like and a digicam that’s nearly unrivaled.

There’s a been a development of crowning the Pixel 3a and 3a XL because the king of price range telephones, and whilst I believe that’s taking it a little too a long way, there’s a ton to like right here.

To your cash you get a processor that will get the task accomplished, sufficient RAM to stay going all day lengthy, battery existence that may push into the two-day class for gentle customers, and one of the most efficient cameras in the marketplace. All in all, an excessively compelling enjoy at simply $399 for the Pixel 3a and $479 for the 3a XL.

However, this isn’t the telephone for you if you wish to cling onto a tool for a few years into the longer term. Whilst firms like Samsung and OnePlus are sticking a ludicrous 12GB of RAM into gadgets, Google caught with 4GB.

It wouldn’t have made sense for the corporate to liberate the cheap telephone with extra RAM than its flagship, however that doesn’t imply I don’t fear about how the telephone will cling up for the following few years. We’re getting better apps and hungrier formula processes with every passing day and the Pixel 3a XL may just quickly be in a good spot.

In the event you do need a inexpensive telephone for presently, one that may get tool updates smartly into the longer term and a digicam that’s able to extra than simply social media footage, then this the place you wish to have to begin your seek.

At $400, that is one of the most efficient values in the marketplace presently and in america, it’s the one readily to be had possibility which delivers those specifications at this value.

We absolutely counsel the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, despite the fact that if you happen to’re out of doors of america, you do have extra choices. Do your analysis, however get started right here.

Purchase the Pixel 3a XL from Amazon, Best Buy, or Google.

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