Next week Google will be launching their new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones. In case you’re learning about this for the first time, the upcoming phones are Google’s answer to a more affordable Pixel 3 handset, where in exchange for a lower price tag, customers will be sacrificing certain features and performance in the process.
It might sound almost ridiculous to release a phone with 2018 hardware for a (rumored) price tag of $500, and there are plenty of reasons not to love it, but at the same time, there are certain things that we can look forward to as well.
According to the rumors, the Pixel 3a is said to be priced starting at $500. It’s not exactly what one might call a “budget” phone, but it is more affordable than the current price of the Pixel 3. You might argue that the Pixel 3 doesn’t cost much more and has much better specs, but perhaps the target market that Google is aiming at might not necessarily be the ones that are willing to spend an extra $200 or more for a phone with better hardware.
For those who aren’t fans of the skinned/themed UIs that handset manufacturers bundle with their phones, getting a Pixel handset will give you a (relatively) stock Android experience. We expect that this will be the same with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, where for a lower price, you get all the benefits of enjoying stock Android.
Plus, it also seems that Google will be bringing over some features from the Pixel 3 such as Night Sight
Speaking of stock Android, the fact that the phone is still part of the Pixel lineup means that in terms of updates, you can expect to receive them in a timely manner as other Pixel devices. Given that a lot of what makes an experience good is the software, being able to access the latest updates to Android whenever it is released can only be a good thing.
Now one of the things that Google’s Nexus and Pixel smartphones were never really known for was their cameras. They were capable at best, but they definitely paled in comparison compared to the likes of the iPhone and Samsung. Google definitely stepped things up in a big way with the Pixel 3, and we expect that experience to carry over to the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.
In fact, a very recent teaser image shared by Google suggested that the company’s coveted Night Sight mode (which uses AI to artificially brighten up the scene) could be brought over to the Pixel 3a phones. This essentially means that for a phone that’s a few hundred dollars cheaper, you will be able to expect very similar camera capabilities. Plus, for all we know, the Pixel 3a might actually hint at some of the camera improvements that we could expect from the Pixel 4 later this year.
While Google has always sold the Pixel phones unlocked through its website, the Pixel series had previously been exclusive to Verizon here in the US. However, a recent report claims that the exclusivity with Verizon will be coming to an end and that future Pixel phones, including the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, will be available through T-Mobile as well. For non-Verizon customers hoping to pick up the phone on an installment/repayment plan, your options just got a bit wider.
Plus it was recently reported that Google’s Pixel 3 smartphones aren’t selling as well compared to the Pixel 2. Making it available on T-Mobile along with a slightly cheaper price tag could help bolster sales and give the phone a better chance at succeeding.
It Gets The Job Done
The rumors are claiming that the Pixel 3a smartphones could be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset. On paper, it doesn’t look particularly impressive especially when compared to other flagship chipsets, but let’s be honest, it’s more than enough to get the job done.
Unless you consider yourself a power user who plays a lot of resource-intensive games or does heavy processing tasks like video editing on the go, chances are the Snapdragon 670 will be more than adequate for your day-to-day activities.
Return Of The Headphone Jack
If a smartphone that lacks a headphone jack is a deal-breaker for you, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL appear to be bringing the port back.
This is great news for audiophiles who have long argued that wired headphones offer better sound quality than wireless ones, plus if you have a collection of wired headphones, this means you won’t have to deal with dongles/adapters or be forced to buy a set of wireless headphones.
All in all, perhaps the Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be a huge flop as we predicted, or maybe, just maybe, with the right marketing and target audience, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL could be the runaway success that Google needs right now.