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Google Pixel 3a XL Review: The new sweet spot



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With its plastic body without apologies, its tremendous camera system and its reasonable price, the Google Pixel 3a XL is a winner. And that is true despite some midrange specifications, some missing features and other cost reduction measures.

design

From a design perspective, the Google Pixel 3a XL is a fun throwback: it features a unibody polycarbonate (plastic) design, like the best Nokia Lumia models from several years ago, and the new not-unpleasant notch of the Pixel 3 XL. Bevels for the forehead and chin that resemble the Pixel2 family of 2017. And imagine, it looks and feels great. In fact, I like it better than the Pixel 3 XL glass design, which is slippery, breaks easily and produces an internal echo and vibration during audio playback.

Polycarbonate is an excellent choice, although it prevents the Pixel 3a XL from being compatible with wireless charging, if both. (It does not bother me at all). In return, it will not crack or splinter, and if it actually releases it and the surface, the scratch will retain the color of the polycarbonate, which is spread throughout the material; There is no surface paint or coating.

Speaking of color, you can choose between three: Clearly white, Only black and Purple. I chose to laugh and I really enjoyed it. It is a subtle purple hue that can be seen white from certain angles, and is as colorful and attractive as the Not Pink or My Pixel 3 XL.

And the case of Google that I bought perfectly points to the underlying color of the phone.

The polycarbonate is also noticeably lighter than the glass and aluminum sandwich design used by the Pixel 3 XL. The flagship weighs only 6.49 ounces, the Pixel 3a XL weighs only 5.89 ounces. So, the Pixel 3a XL is almost 10% lighter, and you can really feel the difference when you have both in your hands at the same time. The Pixel 3a XL looks light and airy in comparison.

Seen from all angles, the Pixel 3a XL closely follows the design of the Pixel 3 XL, and the aesthetics of the design is also consistent with the previous pixels. There is a dual-band design on the back, a standard of pixels, a camera and a fingerprint reader facing backwards. The buttons, for power and volume, are placed similarly to the right of the device. (The SIM card tray is placed on the left side of the 3rd XL, and not on the bottom as in the 3 XL).

There are some minor differences beyond the materials. The bottom of the USB port is flanked by two speakers facing down / side; They are facing the Pixel 3 XL. And there's a headphone jack – a headphone jack – on top of the headset, God willing.

From the front, the Pixel 3a XL does not look futuristic, like the OnePlus 7 Pro and its true full-screen fascia. But it also does not look old-fashioned. Instead, it is attractive and functional and, in the first place, it questions the need for notches.

display

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Pixel 3a XL screen is a key area in which Google sought to save money by using a cheaper and less technically sophisticated party. Despite this, this screen compares favorably with the upper screen on paper used in the Pixel 3 XL. In fact, multiple applications, photos and identical videos on each side, have problems counting them separately. Good. Apart from the intrusive notch in the Pixel 3 XL, that's it.

The Pixel 3a XL is shipped with an aspect ratio of 18: 9 number 6 inches Full HD + (2160 x 1080) OLED screen that delivers 402 ppi. The 18.5: 9 Pixel 3 XL is larger, with 6.3 inches diagonally, and has a higher resolution (2960 x 1440) and pixel density (523 ppi). Even the Pixel 2 XL delivered 538 ppi on its Full HD + screen (which was not really brilliant, really).

But these measures can be deceptive. Although it is counted diagonally, the screen of the Pixel 3 XL provides a large amount of real estate usable on the screen, at least when the status bar is displayed, due to its terribly large notch. When you look at apps like Instagram or Facebook side by side on both phones, the view on the Pixel 3a XL is only slightly smaller than on the Pixel 3 XL. In fact, it is almost exactly the height of the status bar (in the 3rd XL). Not much

The differences in resolution and pixel density between the two devices should be even more important. But they do not. In applications such as all kinds of games, productivity applications, photo applications and video streaming applications, I simply do not see a big difference in the real world when they look side by side. (I configured both screens identically, for example, using the adaptive color scheme, and no Pixel supports resolution reduction, if we see it on other Android phones).

Where the Pixel 3 XL make the brightness is brighter: that more expensive phone also offers whiter whites, if that makes sense, where the full white areas of the Pixel 3a XL can often look a bit light gray. But that may be the only big difference I've noticed. And it's not something that someone would notice without comparing the two phones.

However, the Pixel 3a XL has one major potential drawback: instead of being protected by the latest Gorilla Glass, the Pixel 3a XL is described as a scratch resistant glass called Dragontrail. But it's not in the same league as Gorilla Glass when it comes to being shock-resistant. Therefore, it is possible that one may have problems in long-term use. In a few weeks of use, I have not mentioned any problems.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. And in this case, I think the compromise was right for Google to measure the reasonable price of the Pixel 3a XL. And the screen looks very good.

Hardware and specifications

You can get the Pixel 3a XL configuration you want, as long as it is powered by a Midcomcom Snapdragon 670 processor with Adreno 615, 4 GB or RAM and 64 GB graphics or non-expandable storage. On paper, each of those components is problematic. But in the use of the real world, only storage has really bothered me. It's like seeing at least an update of 128 GB.

This can change over time: Android is legendary for its performance problems in the rot, but never before significant performance problems when using the Pixel 3a XL normally, as with any smartphone. Serious players will want to look elsewhere, of course, but this phone uses casual games and Asphalt 9: Legends Career title without complaint. (That said, the overall size or game makes it less attractive on the Pixel 3a XL and its limited storage).

I've only seen two performance problems from day to day with the Pixel 3a XL and both, I find it understandable and acceptable for a phone in this price range. The first is a slow processing of photos that I describe briefly in the next section. The second is related to the functionality of voice to type in the Gboard keyboard application, which I use because I believe that writing on small phone screens is difficult and prone to errors.

In the Pixel 3 XL, when I touch the microphone icon on the keyboard to start talking, there is a quick series of messages that appear at the top of the keyboard and say, in turn, Initializing … and later Speak Now. In truth, I had never noticed these messages before. Speak Now It appears so fast that I simply touch the icon and start talking and it just works.

In the Pixel 3a XL, this is more leisurely, and ends up not being the first words I say every time, unless I remember to wait. It's about the difference between 0-1 seconds (Pixel 3 XL) and 1-3 seconds (Pixel 3a XL), and although it may not seem like a big difference, it's night and day when you try to talk to your phone. .

None of these problems is a decisive factor. But I think they do talk, ahem, about the difference in the central and real performance of the two phones. And the question to ask is if it is worth another $ 420 so you do not have to wait a second extra each time you want to transcribe your voice in text. That pause is real, and it shows. But I can wait.

Better yet, the Pixel 3a XL never seems to heat up and stay warm, a problem I had repeatedly with the Pixel 3 XL. It is not clear whether this is due solely to the more modest internal elements or to the combined with the polycarbonate exterior. It does not matter I always worry when a phone gets hot. So this is a welcome change.

Looking beyond performance, the Pixel 3a XL is packed with mostly modern components, as you would expect here in 2019. The phone is compatible with all major operator bands and works across the US. UU operator networks (even formally available in large operators, except AT & T). It is fully compatible with Google Fi, of course, and supports the change of network between GSM and CDMA networks. It also includes Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi network 802.11acn dual band and NFC.

The battery is also a good improvement compared to the Pixel 3 XL: it is a 3700 mAh unit, compared to the smaller version of 3430 mAh used in the 3 XL; that, combined with the less powerful and less hungry energy screen of the 3rd XL should result in better battery life. And that has been my experience: I can never spend a solid day without recharging the Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 3a XL has adapted very well.

Like the Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 3a XL includes stereo speakers, but there are some differences between the two, some of which are improvements and others not. On the negative side, the 3rd XL speakers are less rich and noisy than the 3 XL speakers, and the right / bottom speaker is not in front. But in the positive column, the Pixel 3a XL does not suffer the echoes and vibrations of the most expensive pixel, and the stereo separation is better balanced. (The Pixel 3 XL is very inclined towards the right / lower speaker, which is annoying). Given these drawbacks, I prefer the Pixel 3a XL in general despite the less rich sound. It's good enough

The Pixel 3a XL has another audio feature that the Pixel 3 XL lacks: a real headphone jack. Therefore, you can perform futuristic tasks, such as listening to audio through headphones while simultaneously charging the device. That's wonderful, but it's even better when you forget your dongle and it just works. I listened to music and an audiobook on a recent flight to Miami using only my headphones, unlocked, for the first time in a few years. It was great

A final hardware note: where I experienced serious audio and microphone problems during phone calls with Pixel 3 XL, I had a clean, error-free experience with Pixel 3a XL. In fact, the first time I called my wife after switching to the 3rd XL, she commented, spontaneously, that the call sounded good. With the Pixel 3 XL, my audio was often confusing. And I experienced a static background sound on every call; neither of them has happened with the Pixel 3a XL. It works as it should.

cameras

At this price point, one can forgive Google for cutting some corners in the camera department. But the concessions he made are absolutely acceptable. In fact, most buyers of Pixel 3a XL will never realize that something is missing.

So what ice lack? The Pixel 3 XL varnishes Google's Pixel Visual Core chipset, which says it improves the performance and quality of photographs, especially those that require some artificial intelligence processing. And where the Pixel 3 XL, which is more expensive, offers two front cameras to enable an ultra-wide ultra-selfie mode, the Pixel 3a XL creates a unique lens and normal selfies.

In practical terms, this means that the Pixel 3a XL will take a little longer to take and process Night Sight and other complicated shots, while the Pixel 3 XL may take a second to post-shot processing. However, in the side-by-side shots, I do not see any difference in quality between the shots taken with the two headphones. And although the ultra wide selfie mode is good, I can live without it.

Beyond that, the Pixel 3a XL contains the same hardware as the 3 XL: the rear camera is a unique 12 MP lens unit with an aperture of f / 1.8, autofocus with double pixel phase detection and image stabilization optics and electronics And the front selfie camera is also a normal 8 MP lens with an aperture of f / 1.8 and a field of view of 75 degrees (the other front camera of the 3 XL is an 8 MP wide-angle lens with an aperture f). of /2.2 and a 97-degree field of view.)

Take excellent photos in all conditions. And better night shots and low light than virtually any smartphone, including the latest and most expensive Samsung, Apple and Huaweis. Not bad for $ 480. Hell, it's not bad at $ 1000 either.

security

The Pixel 3a XL includes the same Titan M security chip as the Pixel 3 XL, the same fast and efficient fingerprint reader, and the same software security controls. This phone, like the Pixel 3 XL, is also Android Enterprise Recommended, which indicates that it complies with a high security bar for companies.

In short, the behaviors and functions of Pixel 3a XL as the Pixel 3 XL from a security point of view. There were no problems here at all.

Unique hardware features

As noted above, the Google Pixel 3a XL introduces the same backward-facing fingerprint reader as its more expensive brother and offers the same excellent performance and accuracy. There is no option for facial recognition, but it is probably the best, given the malfunction of this technology in Android.

Also like the Pixel 3 XL, the 3a XL has Google's Active Edge technology, which allows you to press the bottom of the phone to consult the Google Assistant. I disable this function, but I could think differently if it could be configured to perform other actions.

And again, the Pixel 3a XL supports fast charging and even includes a fixed 18-watt charger in the box. In a concession at cost, there is no wireless charge.

software

The Pixel 3a XL is delivered with the latest version of the image of the Android 9 Pie software from Google and, as always, is a delight, without junk software or other superfluous nonsense. As with more expensive pixels, Google says it will support the Pixel 3a XL with two years of updates to the Android version and three years of security updates. Given the medium-level specifications of this phone, it is likely that it is out of the phone before it stops receiving updates.

Prices and availability

Google Pixel 3a XL comes in a single configuration with 64GB of storage and costs $ 480. I would prefer at least the option to upgrade storage and feel that 64GB, especially when it is not expandable through microSD, is the only minimum for a Android phone today.

Regardless, the Pixel 3a XL is a tremendous value for its retail price of $ 480. A Pixel 3 XL similarly configured costs $ 900. For that additional cost, you get better performance, both subtly and in daily use , wireless charging and water resistance, a slightly better screen, the protection of Gorilla Glass and some other improvements, more unnecessary.

Surprisingly, the Pixel 3a XL also exceeds 3 XL in some important aspects. Its polycarbonate body is more durable than the glass body of all 3 XL and does not have the same echo and vibration in the audio reproduction. There is a headphone jack, which varnishes 3 XL. And in my experience, the quality of the call in the 3rd XL is superior, without problems of static or microphone.

There are three color options: Clearly White, Only Black and Purple, whose laugh is exclusive to Pixel 3a and 3a XL. (Not Pink is not available.)

Recommendations and conclusions

The Google Pixel 3a XL is easy to recommend. It provides one of the best cameras for smartphones available today and costs approximately half the price of Apple, Huawei, Samsung and, yes, Google too. Depending on your needs, Google does not really eliminate any important features, although I will highlight the lack of capacity to update the storage as perhaps the only serious negative. Of course, there are questions about the long-term viability of the mid-range specifications of the Pixel 3a XL. But I loved a smart phone and almost never at this price. Has Google found a sweet spot in a crowded and expensive smartphone market? I think they have done it.

The Google Pixel 3a XL is highly recommended.

At a glance

Pros

  • Excellent cameras with excellent performance in low light
  • Low price, great value
  • Funny and durable polycarbonate body.
  • Headphone jack
  • Fast and accurate fingerprint reader
  • Fast charging stand, fixed charger included
  • Wipe Android image
  • Fully compatible with Google Fi

cons

  • No storage or expansion upgrade
  • Unprotected by Gorilla Glass
  • No wireless charging
  • Not waterproof

Tagged with Google Pixel 3a XL

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