+ Thursday June 27th, 2019

Last year, the existence of the Google Pixel 3 was not kept under wraps very well. Coming up to Google I/O, and Google has done its best impression of a colander and there have been leaks aplenty about a new phone announcement at Google I/O, and here it is.

Today during the Google I/O keynote, the company has unveiled a new mid-range Pixel line — the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

Google is pitching the new Pixel 3a line to be entry-level phones and as such we should not expect too much in the way of specs. From hardware to software and AI, Google has attempted to deliver users a premium Google Pixel experience at an accessible price, in an attempt to redefine the entry-level category.

The phones share the same two-tone design as the other Pixel phones, and could easily be mistaken for the Pixel 3 line instead. Both phones will include all the camera software functionality. While neither will have the dual front-facing cameras seen in the Pixel 3 XL, both will feature Night Sight, Google Lens, squeeze to trigger Google Assistant and flip to Shhh.

Onboard security in the form of the Titan M security chip is also included for the secure storage of fingerprints etc, making sure you can securely access your device while keeping your biometric information safe and sound.

What’s inside a Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL?

The XL variant of the Pixel 3a line is once again the more impressive Pixel coming with a slightly higher specced processor than the Pixel 3a. The Pixel 3a XL has a 6.0-inch 18:9 display whereas the Pixel 3a has just a 5.6-inch 18.5:9 display.

Every possible Pixel experience has been put into the new Pixel and by that we mean the software. One new piece of software launching with the phone is Navigation with AR, which allows the users to use AR to navigate themselves around their surroundings. For a phone to be compatible with this it must have AR Core capabilities and Google Street View.

Obviously, then, Google’s Pixel 3a line supports these technologies, and many more.

The specs are more mid-range than entry-level, but it does pay to keep this in mind – we’re so used to the premium experience from Google’s Pixel range. This is a mid-range phone, and we should keep in mind that that Google has built this phone with the Pixel experience at a moderate price in mind, rather than premium specs at a premium price.

SpecPixel 3aPixel 3a XL
Display5.6-inch
2220 x 1080 FHD+ gOLED
18.5:9
Dragontrail glass
6.0-inch
2160 x 1080 FHD+ gOLED
18:9
Dragontrail glass
Size and weight151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
147g
160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2 mm
167g
Battery3000mAh
Up to 7hrs with 15 min charge
USB-C 18W adapter with USB-PD 2.0
18w fast charging
3700mAh
Up to 7hrs with 15 min charge
USB-C 18W adapter with USB-PD 2.0
18w fast charging
DesignPolycarbonate unibody
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 670
Titan M Security Module
RAM4GB LPDDR4x RAM
Rear Camera12.2MP Dual-Pixel Sony IMX363
OIS and EIS
f/1.8 aperture
Front Camera8MP
f/2.0 aperture
OtherStereo speakers (1 front, 1 top)
Wi-Fi 2.4 + 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
NFC
ColoursJust Black
Clearly White
UpdatesMinimum 3 years security and OS updates
Software
features
Always on display, Night Sight, Time Lapse, Photobooth, Now Playing, Active Edge (Squeeze to launch Google Assistant)

The Pixel 3a battery is 3000mAh and 3700mAh for the XL, and according to Pixel spokesperson, Nanda Ramachandran, Google is extremely happy with the result promising 7 hours of battery life from just 15 minutes of charging. Yes, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL both are charged using the same USB-C PD charger as the regular Pixel 3 phones. Overall, Google says you could expect 30 hours of battery life from the phones, but in the real world – just like cars and fuel consumption – your mileage might quite literally vary.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are lighter than their more expensive siblings, due to the polycarbonate construction instead of more metal. They weigh in at just 147g and 167g respectively.

So why is it a mid-range phone?

Of course there are some corners that had to be cut to get the new Pixel phones into the mid-range category (and, perhaps more relevantly, a comfortable mid-range price).

The features that did not make the cut for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL include:

  • Mid-range Snapdragon processors
  • Wireless charging
  • Wide-angled selfies — just a single front-facing camera on both Pixel 3a phones
  • No IP68 ingress protection – see below

No IP rating? So, the Google Pixel 3a can’t get wet? Well, not quite. On this topic, Google said:

The Pixel 3a has not been certified. To be certified for IP ratings, every component must go through specialised testing which increases the cost. We optimised to fit in other features.Pixel spokesperson Nanda Ramachandran

What this probably means is that while the Pixel 3a range won’t die if you use it in the rain, I wouldn’t go taking it swimming or immersing it in water. Just be sensible, or – if you’re truly likely to get it wet – wait until Lifeproof or Otterbox release a waterproof case.

So that’s what’s out, what’s in?

All the software, security, and the rear camera. This phone is for those who want a Pixel quality camera, with ongoing security and Android version updates and a long battery life. This is going to be a lot of users right there and we expect the new Pixels to shake up that mid-range market segment.

Those already enjoying the fruits of selling in that price range will have to step up their imaging game now that a competitor has a Pixel quality camera onboard. A premium camera experience for a mid-range price rings a lot of bells for a lot of people.

OK, I want one. When can we expect it in Australia?

How does today sound?

Yes, by the time you’re reading this with your morning coffee, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will be on sale, available to purchase today from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks and the Google Store.

How much do they cost? The short answer is about half what the Pixel 3 line cost at launch:

  • Pixel 3a will retail for AU$649
  • Pixel 3a XL will retail for AU$799

There’s a bonus offer too – eligible customers who activate a Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL by 30/09/19 and redeem by 31/10/19 can get a 3-month trial of YouTube Music Premium on Google.

Scott Plowman   Editor

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Scott is our modding guru - he has his finger on the pulse of all things ‘moddable’, pointing us towards all the cutting edge mods hacks that are available. When he’s not gymming it up, or scanning the heck out of Nexus devices, you'll find him on the Ausdroid Podcast.

Outside of Ausdroid, Scott's a health care professional and lecturer at a well known Victorian university.

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Matthew McQuilty
Ausdroid Reader

The 3a is available via Vodafone too.

Brainbeat
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Brainbeat

Looking at these the price is a bit higher than the competition in the mid range. The price is what I was guessing it might have been on the predicted USA prices. True you are paying for support which is worth something but do wonder if other options that are still better value especially if you can put lineage os or similar on them.

Kevin
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Kevin

That depends on what you are comparing. From what I understand from early reviews, I doubt you will get a comparable camera from any of the mid range phones currently available. Up to now, to get a good camera, you have to buy a flagship phone

10001000101
Ausdroid Reader

Purple when?

Peter L
Ausdroid Reader

Somewhat poor editing by Google on their Aussie store page. When you select “Compare” and choose the 3a XL as the third comparison phone, it says, starts at $649, which considering the 3a is right next to it at the same price, is a bit deceptive.

Andy
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Andy

And our American cousins get $100 in store credit. Aussies get shafted again…

These prices are ridiculous for what they’re offering. Pass.

Kui
Guest
Kui

3.5mm jack is back?! lol

Airbus
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Airbus

$649 for the Google Pixel 3a and $799 for the 3a XL. Roughly $100 more than their prices in US dollars when directly converted

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

The US price does not include sales tax. If you remove Aus sales tax (GST) the price is AUD590. Direct conversion (AU$ -> USS$ at 0.7) makes it AUD 571. So $19 more expensive. Considering there are probably a few overheads selling in AUS, I think thats pretty reasonable.

Jeni Skunk
Ausdroid Reader

The $799 AUD price of the Pixel 3a XL, comes to $726.36 pre-GST.
The US price, $479 USD, allowing for current exchange rate, is $685.29 AUD.

Dan
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Dan

Indeed. However the US price does not include tax, ours does.

Jamie S
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Jamie S

Nice coverage Scott. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see more affordable Google phones back but when you can get a Pixel 3 in white for $900 or an S10e for $988 from JB if you can afford it, I’d spend the extra money and get a flagship.

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