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Google Pixel 3A XL might just be the 'Phone' you have always wanted
Google Pixel 3A XL is priced at Rs. 44,990 in the Indian market and brings the best-in-class camera experience at much lower price-point.
If you have always wanted to buy a premium Google Pixel phone but the exorbitant price came in your way, the new affordable Pixels might solve the problem. The search engine giant has unveiled two new Pixel smartphones- Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL with a promise to deliver the exact same premium user-experience at much lower cost. Priced at Rs. 39,999 and Rs. 44,999 respectively, the affordable Pixel smartphones cost half the price of their premium siblings and might prove game-changing for Google as well as for buyers.
Design: Exactly identical to Pixel 3 XL but a lot has changed
The new Pixel 3A XL looks exactly identical to Pixel 3 XL as the company has maintained the exact similar dual-tone design language. Anyone would get confused if both the devices are placed side by side. However, the affordable Pixel ditches the ugly notch on the display, IP rating and also the glass body of the premium Pixels. The company has cut down the cost by constructing affordable Pixels with polycarbonate material. I did not find much difference in in-hand feel though. The rear panel, which once again is part polished and part frosted, offers the same soft rubberized feel.
Ergonomic design and premium Pixel in-hand feel
The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right edge. The SIM card slot is positioned on the left side. The overall design is very ergonomic except for the power button placement. I feel it should have been placed lower, in the place of volume rockers as most of us interact with the power button more on a daily basis then the volume rockers. With the current arrangement, you have to stretch the thumb all the way up to wake the display. Thankfully, the fingerprint scanner's correct positioning and Always-On display feature compensate to a good extent.
Crisp image quality, stunning bokeh shots
As far as the camera performance is concerned, the images shot on Pixel 3a XL shows are super crisp and detailed. The colours are slightly on the warmer side but the overall output is very soothing to the eyes. Once again the Google's software algorithms are doing their magic. The portrait shots captured by the single-lens on Pixel 3A XL are better than the images shot by some handsets boasting dedicated depth-sensors. The video quality is also brilliant and the low-light shots captured with Google's Nightsight mode reveal very good information.
I did face a minor glitch in the camera app. The moment you tap on the gallery shortcut icon to check the last image shot on the camera within the camera app, it disappears. The gallery shows the second last image by default and you have to swipe back to see the last shot image. This is a minor glitch that can be solved by an OTA update.
No In-screen fingerprint scanner at 45K, but we don’t mind
This also reminds of the fact that at a price-point of 45k, Pixel 3a XL ships with the standard biometric scanner and not with an on-screen fingerprint sensor. OnePlus 6T, Vivo V15 Pro, OPPO F11, Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A70 offers in-screen fingerprint scanners at much lower price-points. If you really fancy a futuristic in-screen fingerprint scanner, the new Pixels aren't for you. I would any day go for standard biometric scanners as they are still much snappier and comfortable to use in everyday scenarios.
Display- Crisp FHD+ display surrounded by thick ugly bezels
Google hasn't yet figured out how to cut down the bezels surrounding the displays for its Pixel smartphones. Or maybe the company is just saving the best its 4th gen. Pixel smartphones. Either way, Google is pretty late to the party as competitors have really stepped up the display game. Having said that, even though the new Pixel 3A and 3A XL sports crisp Full HD+ displays, the multimedia viewing experience is not as immersive as other smartphones available in the market today. Even some handsets like Honor View 20, Vivo V15 Pro, OPPO F11 Pro offer much better screen-to-body-ratio than the new affordable Pixels. If you have been accustomed to edge-to-edge screens, you will find the new Pixel's screens bit dated.
Thick bezels make Pixel 3a XL look outdated in 2019
If I ignore the big bezels surrounding the screen, the Full HD+ display is brilliant. Pixel 3A XL boasts a 6-inch Full HD+ screen with 18:9 aspect ratio. The 2160 x 1080p resolution on 6-inch panel translates to a crisp 402ppi, which make text, pictures and videos look crisp and vivid. The screen is also very touch-responsive and the viewing angles and colour reproduction is quite impressive. The display on Pixel 3a XL has 100,000:1 contrast ratio and produces 16 million colours. Videos and games look vivid and immersive if you can make peace with the big bezels surrounding the screen.
Camera- Best of Premium Pixels at a lower price-point
I was delighted to see that no comprises have been made on the camera hardware for the affordable Pixel 3A XL. The new Pixel 3A XL offers the same single-lens camera setup that the world has seen on the flagship Pixel 3 XL. It easily beats most of the dual and even triple-lens camera setup smartphones in image quality. Google has offered a 12.2MP Dual-Pixel camera working on Sony IMX363 sensor. The camera's autofocus capabilities are super snappy and it also offers dual pixel phase detection.
Same camera performance at half the price
The aperture size is f/1.8 and the camera setup also gets Optical + electronic image stabilization. The rear camera sensor uses a big 1/2.55" Sensor Size with 1.4μm pixel width. The single-lens offers 76° field of view, which is pretty standard. This is a downside of Google Pixel devices and the reason they are technically not the most recommended handsets for landscape and street photography. Smartphones with triple-lens camera setups offer dedicated wide-angle lenses that add a lot of value and a new perspective to your photography.
Hardware- Snapdragon 670+ 4GB RAM at 45K
Chinese smartphone makers have spoilt us so bad that seeing a smartphone with a 6th gen. Snapdragon CPU at a premium price of 45K seems like a joke in the year 2019. There is no doubt that Google has managed to cut a considerable cost by using a much less powerful CPU. However, it is going to be the toughest thing for the company to make people understand that it is more than just CPU that translates to a good real-world performance. The Pixel 3A XL is backed by the Snapdragon 670 chipset, which is much less powerful than the flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset. The CPU even falls behind the SD675 and SD710, which can be seen on affordable smartphones- Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro respectively. The octa-core CPU is aided by Adreno 615 GPU and 4GB RAM to handle graphics and multitasking.
Works and feels just like the Premium Pixels
In real-life scenarios, the new affordable Pixel feels and works just like the flagship Pixel 3 XL. The underlying stock Android Pie is so well-optimized that apps load in a jiffy and basic navigation is super fluid. Multiple tabs in Chrome, high-end games, photo-video editing softwares are also working without any slowdown in performance. You also get Pixel phone's software features such as- Now playing, Always on display, Gestures, Pixel launcher, Adaptive battery, Digital well-being amongst others. The software experience on new affordable Pixel phone is just brilliant. No other Android smartphone can match it. Period. Besides, the stereo speakers produce crisp and loud audio on Pixel 3A XL.
Battery life and connectivity
Pixel 3A XL is backed by a decently sized 3,700 mAh battery unit. The smartphone managed to last for a day even with heavy usage. For connectivity, Pixel 3a XL features a USB Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, single Nano SIM card slot, e-SIM connectivity, Wi-Fi 2.4 + 5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE with AptX HD support, Google Cast, GPS, GLONASS and NFC.
The new affordable Pixel smartphones are not going to be affordable for everyone; however, for that particular user who was willing to spend close to 80k for a flagship Pixel phone, can expect similar experience (if not performance) at half the price now.
For now, we can say that don't judge Pixel 3A XL's complete performance by just the on-paper Snapdragon 670 chipset. There's a lot going on inside this smartphone that makes it deliver the same premium-level Pixel devices' user experience at considerable lower price-point. We will push the affordable Pixel smartphone to its limits in our comprehensive review. Stay tuned.