The Google Pixel 3a still remains one the best affordable Android phones you can buy, simply because it offers the best bits of the Pixel series with only a few compromises.
While the 3a is by no means the first affordable Android phone that gives you an experience that doesn’t appear to match the entry price, it’s one of the few smartphones in recent years that, in some ways, is easier to recommend than its high-end siblings.
Of course, the vast majority of tech fans will undoubtedly cast the Google Pixel 3a aside in favor of an expensive high-end flagship phone complete with all the “bells and whistles.” At least to us, Google has shown that maybe you don’t always need to have the top-end chipset and powerhouse internals to have a thoroughly pleasant experience.
Some people — ourselves included — hinted at parallels between the now-defunct Nexus line and the 3a series. There may be similar pricing, but they couldn’t be further apart in terms of the overall experience. The 3a series is polished and without glaring issues or problems — it also hasn’t had huge corners cut to maintain an enticingly low entry price.
This is one of the very smartphones that has made us really reassess what we “need” in a smartphone, rather than just what we want. Yes, you’ll miss out on maybe a few things here and there, but for the most part, it’s a fantastic experience that doesn’t disappoint.
The Pixel 4a might be on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean you should skip or ignore the Pixel 3a. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that for most people out there reading, you’ll feel far better lowering your budget, and picking up the 3a over a “more established” $1,000+ smartphone. With that in mind, here are five reasons we think that the Google Pixel 3a is still worth picking up.
Still one of the first areas to be downgraded on any budget device, luckily, that isn’t the case with the Pixel 3a. This is a genuine flagship-tier camera — albeit a solo lens setup. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset is modest, which means that processing time is a little longer than it would be on the Pixel 3 or 4, but the end result is almost indistinguishable from its more “capable” siblings.
If you want the best sub-$500 camera on the market, then the Google Pixel 3a is the smartphone to pick up. Yes, there are limitations as a result of this smartphone coming with a solitary lens, but when you get photos that are better than even the S10 series, you’ll be as astounded as we were.
Bold claim: This might even be a better purchase than an entry-level or similarly priced digital camera for most people out there — especially when you see the end results!
Cheaper smartphones tend to be made with cheaper but actively more durable materials. Even despite using polycarbonate to mimic the design of the Pixel 3, the 3a manages to feels very similar, thanks to the faux frosted glass back.
It’s surprisingly sturdy. Not many smartphones made of polycarbonate feel quite as solid in the hand. That’s a massive bonus when using the Active Edge features or even the rear-mounted fingerprint reader on the back.
The most obvious reason to go for the penny-saving Pixel. The RRP at launch for the Pixel 3a was $399 with the Pixel 3a XL starting at $479. That has since dipped quite substantially in the 12-month interim. You can get some fantastic deals on the 3a series, with regular sales and promotion that push that pricing below $400 for both smartphones.
I’d never necessarily suggest that a port is a reason to pick up a smartphone, but with the headphone port all but gone from the most expensive phones on the market — including the Pixel series — if you want a Pixel with the ability to plug in some wired headphones, then the 3a is one of only two Pixel devices with the option available.
I’m not really sure of the thought process behind giving the cheaper Google Pixel 3a the headphone port and then removing it from the flagship line. However, it’s a great option for those that still want to be able to use the aux cable in their car or just plug in a cheap pair of earbuds at the gym.
There aren’t many devices released in 2019 that have even been updated to Android 10, let alone the Android 11 Developer Previews. The Google Pixel 3a is one of the very few sub-$500 smartphones that has been updated to the latest OS and is probably the only 2019 smartphone that will get Android 11 on day one.
Android 10 has reinvigorated the already impressive performance on this smartphone. You also get some new camera features and extras that are Pixel-exclusive — you won’t find them elsewhere. To add to that, monthly security patches and regular Pixel Feature Drops are just another impressive addition to the mix that ensures you have everything ahead of the competition — and at a far lower entry price.
If you want a smartphone that just gives you a “premier” Android experience with the associated pricing, then you’re bound to love the Pixel 3a. There are quite a few similarly priced smartphones that might have more bells and whistles, but they simply won’t have the same experience, camera quality, and that Pixel special sauce.
Where can I get the best price on the Google Pixel 3a?
Unlike Pixels past, the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are not carrier exclusive to Verizon in the US, but can both be purchased from Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Mobile. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL can be purchased unlocked from a variety of retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Walmart for $369 and $479, respectively. At the time of writing, Best Buy has the best deal, offering a $50 discount off the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL if you choose to activate the phone immediately.
Have you picked up the Google Pixel 3a?
What are your favorite features of the Google Pixel 3a series? Did you upgrade or downgrade from another device to the budget Pixel, or are you going to wait and see what the Pixel 4a brings? Let us know down in the comments section below.
More on Google Pixel:
- Pixel 4: 5 reasons to still buy the latest ‘Made by Google’ phone [Video]
- Latest Google Pixel Launcher update suggests folder names based on apps
- March Pixel Feature Drop: Hands-on with all the new additions [Video]
- Google Pixel devices can pin apps to Android’s share menu w/ March security update
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