Google announces midrange Pixel 3a and 3aXL with headphone jacks

Google announces Pixel 3a and 3aXL midrange phones

It’s been nearly three years since Google’s premium Pixels entered the smartphone market, and in that time there has been three flagship lines. Today, Google has announced the latest two Pixel smartphones, but for the first time they aren’t successors or flagships, instead midrange additions.

The Pixel 3a and 3aXL sit below the current Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL (which, as the trend goes, will be succeeded by the Pixel 4 line in October), offering the pure Google experience and many premium specs for much less money.

While the Pixel 3 launched last October for £739 (it’s currently only £489, mind you), the Pixel 3a launches at just £399. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3aXL costs £469 compared to the £619 Pixel 3XL, which has also dropped since its original £869 price tag.

So what gives, you ask? Naturally the flagships boast advanced processors (Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 as opposed to the midrange Snapdragon 670) and OLED screens over the midrange 'flagship killer' models. They have metal as opposed to plastic cases too. But the more affordable Pixels aren’t tailing in every aspect.

There’s 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage (albeit no 128GB option) and unlimited photo storage (at ‘high quality’), and as you’d expect they run the latest Android 9.0 Pie OS.

On the audio side, there are dual stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C audio sockets and, yes, the beloved 3.5mm headphone jack – something the costlier handsets sadly forgo.

The Pixel 3a sports a 5.6in FHD+ (2220 x 1080) OLED display at 441 ppi, compared to the Pixel 3’s 5.5in with HDR support. Its battery is 3000mAh (up from Pixel 3’s 2915mAH), with the fast charging feature offering seven hours of use from a 15-minute charge.

As for the larger Google Pixel 3aXL, it boasts a 6in FHD+ (2220 x 1080) OLED display at 402 ppi, compared to the Pixel 3XL’s more premium 6.3in OLED display with HDR support. It too has a bigger battery claim than its flagship large-screen alternative; its 3700mAh battery is up from the 3430mAh battery in the Pixel 3XL.

Early adopters buying before September will also get three months of YouTube Music Premium for free, too. Unlike the flagship Pixels, the Pixel 3a handsets won’t be bundled with Google’s Pixel USB-C earbuds.

The camera uses a 12.2mp Sony rear lens and 8pm front snapper, with the former supporting HDR+ and 4K recording at 30fps. The Pixel’s ‘Night Sight’ low-light camera mode is present, as is ‘Photobooth Mode’, which takes photos automatically upon detection of a smile, funny face or kiss, and ‘Top Shot’, which takes multiple photos in one snap and recommends the best one.

Google Lens, which was previewed for Pixel users last year, is also integrated - and with new functionality. For example, in addition to being able to, say, identify a landmark in a camera frame, it can now automatically detect text in a frame and overlay the translation on top of the original worlds – compatible in more than 100 languages.

By matching dish names with the relevant photos and restaurant reviews in Google Maps, it can also tell you the most popular dishes on a menu that your camera is pointed at.

Available from tomorrow in black, white and purple (well, ‘Purple-ish’ officially), the new Pixels sport a polycarbonate unibody with a two-tone design and Google’s Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner.


Best smartphones 2019: The best phones for music and movies

Best wireless earbuds 2019: Budget and premium


Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.