Google Pixel 3a XL Review

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In January 2010, Google launched the Nexus line of smartphones with the intention of offering flagship hardware and a stock Android experience at a price that was half that of flagships from Samsung, HTC, and LG. Although the concept was excellent, the camera experience was average. Google launched the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones with outstanding cameras in 2016 instead of the Nexus brand.

OEMs like Samsung, LG, Huawei, and others have switched to three or four cameras in recent years; however, the Pixels are able to perform admirably with just one camera. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which were released in October 2018, have excellent cameras, but their prices are too high for many people. Everything is changed by the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, which were just released. They’re not too expensive and have the same great cameras as the Pixel 3-series phones. The question now is whether Google has done enough to make the Pixel 3a series worth your money.


You would want to know if the Pixel 3a XL lives up to the reputation it has earned, and I know that Pixel devices have always set a high standard for cameras. Therefore, let me begin with the cameras. Yes, it has the same 12-megapixel rear camera with the same Sony IMX363 sensor, dual-pixel autofocus, optical image stabilization (OIS), and support for 4K video recording. The only difference between it and the Pixel 3 XL is that it lacks the Pixel visual core. Is that relevant? Well, almost. The visual core facilitates quick photo processing, particularly for AI tasks. The Pixel 3a XL takes a few extra seconds to process photos without the core.

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You can take pictures in the default mode or enable HDR+ or HDR+ Enhanced. The photos I took in auto mode were good, but the ones with HDR+ Enhanced show off the best features of Google’s software. The camera does an excellent job, regardless of the lighting—daylight, low light, or even against the sun. Here are a few examples.

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In Night Sight mode, a burst of photos is taken at various exposures to produce brighter images. It is remarkable how Google was able to achieve the same software experience at a lower price point as the flagship model. Here’s an example of a shot.

In comparison to the Pixel 3 XL, the front-facing 8-megapixel selfie camera lacks the secondary ultra-wide sensor. However, unless you are the ones who take a lot of group selfies, this isn’t a big issue. Aside from that, the photos are quite good, and even the AI portrait mode works well. In addition, you can adjust the intensity of the blur and add color pop effects.

However, does the Pixel 3a XL perform similarly to the Pixel 3 XL? I took a few pictures with both phones, and there isn’t much of a difference. The Pixel 3a photos sometimes looked a little warm and some were a little brighter, but considering the price difference, these aren’t too noticeable unless you’re looking for flaws.


Let’s talk about the other things now that the camera is out of the way. The Pixel 3a XL and Pixel 3 XL share a design that you will immediately notice. The back has the same two-tone finish, and the camera is in the same spot. The building materials change. In contrast to the glass on the Pixel 3 XL, the unibody polycarbonate shell of the Pixel 3a XL is included. Therefore, the Pixel 3 XL’s glass will shatter if dropped, whereas your phone may only suffer a scratch if dropped.

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Here, there are subtle alterations. The power/sleep button and volume rocker are on the right, while the SIM card tray has been moved to the left. The speaker and the USB Type C port for charging and data transfer are located at the bottom.

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In addition, the audio jack makes a comeback with the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, despite the fact that the majority of smartphone manufacturers eliminated the 3.5mm headphone jack, including Google with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 series. Google has also included headphones in the box, which is a good thing, and they are on top. The headphones provide audio of a high quality, comparable to that of premium models.

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Google has chosen a 6-inch qOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of FHD+ (1080 x 2160 pixels). Asahi Dragontrail Glass provides the screen with protection. Although it is brighter than some phones in the same price range, the screen is not as good. Good viewing angles and vivid colors are evident.

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The display is smaller than that of the Pixel 3 XL, which has a slightly larger 6.3-inch panel, QHD+ (1440 x 2960 pixel resolution), an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Additionally, the Pixel 3a XL lacks the notch, which was a major criticism of the Pixel 3 XL. The top and bottom’s thick bezels may appear to be a step back, but you’ll get used to them.

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The flagship 10nm Snapdragon 845 SoC in the Pixel 3 series has four Kryo 385 gold cores for power and four Kryo 385 silver cores for efficiency. The Pixel 3a series uses a 10nm Snapdragon 670 SoC with two Kryo 360 gold cores for power and six Kryo 360 silver cores for efficiency. The two-year-old Snapdragon 835 chipset could be considered inferior to the Snapdragon 670.

While the efficiency cores are based on Cortex A55, the power cores are based on Cortex A75, which is definitely a step up from the Snapdragon 835. Additionally, Google has included the Titan M security module, which encrypts and stores all data locally (on-device), including biometrics and passwords.

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The Pixel 3a XL performs fairly well right out of the box. I was able to switch between apps and multitask without any problems. Using high graphics settings to play games like PUBG was as smooth as butter, as was scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter timeline.

However, when using the Pixel 3 XL side-by-side, things changed. Only at that point will you realize that the Pixel 3a XL takes a few additional seconds to load apps. When processing photos using HDR+ Enhanced and RAW, it takes just over two seconds to process, which is also noticeable.

That brings me to my subsequent issue. The Pixel 3 XL with flagship hardware is only seven months old, and many users have been complaining that it is slow. This is probably because it has 4GB of RAM, while competitors are packing 6GB/8GB and even 12GB into their phones to make them future-proof. Since I haven’t been using the Pixel as my primary device, I can’t comment on that. However, it remains to be seen how Google will address that issue, particularly given that it strives to provide the best software experience.


Software has always been the most important feature of Nexus and Pixel smartphones, along with the camera. Software updates and security updates on a monthly basis are included with the Pixel 3a XL for a period of three years. Even though it is now May 2019, my review unit was shipped with the March 2019 security patch. Also, the Pixel 3a series was not mentioned when Google announced Android Q beta at I/O 2019. I wonder how Google will be able to justify that. However, I will want to see how things progress over the following few months before making a decision.

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Battery capacity:

The Pixel 3x XL has fast charging capabilities and a 3,700mAh battery. The 18W charger that Google provided in the box can be fully charged in about 93 minutes. In the first 30 minutes of using Power Delivery, the battery is fully charged to 50%, and then it slows down for the remaining 50%. When used moderately to slightly heavily, it lasts the entire day on a single charge. I might not have to worry about charging again for a day and a half with more moderate usage.


The Pixel 3a is available for Rs 39,999, while the Pixel 3a XL costs Rs 44,999. To give you some idea, the Pixel 3 was originally sold for Rs 71,000, but it is now available for Rs 56,999. On the other hand, the Pixel 3 XL was originally sold for Rs 83,000, but it is now available for Rs 61,999. Yes, Google has acknowledged that the Pixels are not selling well, and the price drop may also be related.


The Pixel 3a XL is less expensive by Rs 17,000 than the Pixel 3 XL, even when we take into account the current price. Yes, there are some compromises, such as the absence of a glass body, wireless charging, an IPXX rating for resistance to water and dust, and a flagship chipset. However, you get access to a 3.5mm audio jack in addition to the same software and camera experience as the premium model.

Does the Pixel 3a XL’s price tag make sense? No. The ideal price range would have been between Rs 35,000 and Rs 38,500. It tries to be a Nexus replacement, but it fails because of its flagship chipset and high price. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, on the other hand, might be worth considering if you’ve always wanted the most recent Pixel but couldn’t afford it.

The OnePlus 6T, for example, has a flagship chipset, more storage, and more RAM than the competition, but you still save some money. It has everything else, but not the best camera. The Pixel 2 XL from last year, which has high-end hardware and a good camera experience, might be another good option.

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