After months of leaks, Google has made the Pixel 3a and 3a XL official. The new mid-range handsets start at $399, with the 3a XL starting at $479.
And that’s the point: Today’s flagship smartphones pack a lot of power and functionality, but prices have skyrocketed in recent years. And this is especially problematic for Google, which has so far not had much traction with wireless carriers while its phone hardware has suffered from major reliability issues.
So the search giant is hoping to solve these problems with the Pixel 3a lineup, which costs about half as much true flagships while providing similar power and functionality. Of particular note is the camera system, which carries forward unchanged from the more expensive Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Google saved money in various ways, some of which will be obvious.
From a form factor perspective, the Pixel 3a and 3 XL more closely resemble the 2017-era Pixel 2 handsets than they do the other Pixel 3 family members, with their large bezels and non-glass bodies. Internally, they pack mostly modest hardware, with a mid-level Snapdragon 670 processor, 4 GB of RAM (oddly, an improvement over the Pixel 3 and 3 XL) and a maximum of 64 GB of storage.
The Pixel 3a lineup is not water resistant. And it does not support wireless charging.
But the most important change here might just be the phones’ availability. Where previously Pixel handsets were only available from Google directly and from Verizon in the United States, the 3a lineup will also be sold by Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. That should help spread Pixel to a wider audience.