Google Pixel 3a XL Preview

Posted on May 12, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 54 Comments

I’ve ordered a Google Pixel 3a XL to compare it to the much more expensive Pixel 3 XL. Here are a few thoughts ahead of its arrival.

First and most obviously, I’m a bit taken aback by the positive press that this phone and the Pixel 3a have gotten. The reviewers who gained early access to these devices, and are familiar with the shortcomings of their more expensive siblings, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, are falling for Google’s marketing.

I’m genuinely confused by this.

The New York Times, for example, cites how its readers are “frustrated with today’s smartphone prices, which are approaching the cost of a decent used car.” And Google has found the solution: Replace high-end innards with less expensive parts, chop off some key features, and call it a success.

“We’re seeing the fatigue with some of the flagship pricing of smartphones going up and up and up, and people thinking, ‘You know, five years ago I could buy the best possible phone for half this price,’” Google’s Brian Rakowski told the publication.

Well, yes, Brian. They could. They could have bought that phone from you. It was called the Nexus 6P (and Nexus 5X) and it offered flagships specifications at reasonable prices. The only thing that has changed since, really, is that Google just started charging as much as successful premium handset makers like Apple and Samsung. For some reason.

But the Times isn’t alone in praising the obvious: Phones with cheaper parts cost less.

CNET exclaims that the Pixel 3a is “the cheap phone Google always needed.” CNET apparently wasn’t aware of the Nexus 6P/5X, but Engadget remembers, noting that the Pixel 3a is a “triumphant return to affordable phones” for Google; I guess they just forgot that Google’s previous affordable phones were high-end devices, not stripper models. Android Police, meanwhile, proclaims that these mid-range devices “make almost any phone under $500 look bad.” OK, but for just $50 more, you can get a terrific OnePlus 6T that ships with truly high-end components. In fact, they put the $1000 Pixel 3XL to shame in many ways.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. These guys have actually used a Pixel 3a and/or a Pixel 3a XL, and I haven’t. And … yeah. That’s both true and fair. I will do so, and my own Pixel 3a XL is arriving tomorrow and should make for an interesting head-to-head with the truly flagship-class Pixel 3 XL that I recently acquired for half-off. In fact, I paid just $20 more for a 128 GB Pixel 3 XL than I did for a 64 GB Pixel 3a. I know that, at those prices, the Pixel 3 XL is the much better deal.

But I can also read a specifications sheet, and I can see what Google left out when it announced the handsets. I also have many years of experience with Android phones and understand the issues with this platform, most especially with performance over time. And anyone who believes that a few days of experience with Pixel 3a or 3a XL is in any way enough to determine the handset’s long-term viability is—sorry—a fool.

So let’s take a look at the 3a XL compared to the Pixel 3 XL, since those are the versions I will own, and see where the new handsets shine, and where they do not. What does it look like when you save $410 on a smartphone?

Design. While the Pixel 3a XL keeps the same two-pane look that debuted with the original Pixel, it looks (and presumably feels) more like the Pixel 2 XL than the Pixel 3 XL, with its prominent forehead and chin bezels. This is partially because the body isn’t made of glass, as with Pixel 3 XL, a cost-cutting maneuver that has a negative functional side effect noted below. But it also doesn’t have the same silly and huge notch like its more expensive sibling. This, too, has a negative functional side effect, also noted below.

Form factor. Though the two handsets are the same 3-inch width, they are curiously different in other dimensions. The 3a XL is a tad taller, and its 6-inch display is smaller than the 3 XL’s 6.3-inch display. The real-world size differences are likely minimal because of the 3 XL’s big notch. But the 3a XL’s display is also vastly inferior, see below.

Colors. The Pixel 3 XL can be had in white, black, or (not) pink (which is really a tan color). The Pixel 3a XL is sold in white, black, and purple-ish (which is very much just purple).

Display. Here, things get interesting. The Pixel 3 XL has a wonderful 6.3-inch Quad HD+ flexible OLED display at 523 pixels per inch (ppi) and an 18:5.9 aspect ratio with HDR support, the Pixel 3a XL comes with a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED that offers just 402 ppi and an 18:9 aspect ratio and does not support HDR. The only question here is whether the inferior Pixel 3a XL display is “good enough.”

Battery. The 3a XL has a larger 3700 mAh battery than the 3430 mAh 3 XL and that, combined with the less powerful processor and lower resolution display, should result in a meaningful advantage in battery life. Based on a few weeks of experience with the 3 XL, which absolutely does not provide all-day battery, that could be a big deal.

Charging. The Pixel 3 XL supports fast charging and fast wireless charging. The 3a XL supports only fast (wired) charging thanks to its non-glass, polycarbonate back.

Water resistant. The Pixel 3 XL is and the 3a XL is not.

Processors. This is the Pixel 3a XL’s Achilles Heel, I think. Not only is its Snapdragon 670 processor a major step down from Snapdragon 845 found in the Pixel 3 XL, but the 3a XL lacks Google’s Pixel Visual Core chipset, which the firm boasts is the “first custom-designed co-processor for image processing and machine language.” This will be a problem for both photographic quality and performance. When you consider the Pixel camera performance issues that have dogged recent-generation devices and the fact that Android performance erodes over time, the Pixel 3a XL could be a poor choice for anyone looking for a two-plus year commitment. (Both handsets ship with the Titan M security module.)

RAM. Both devices ship with 4 GB of RAM, which is low for a high-end handset but adequate for a mid-range model like the 3a XL.

Storage. The Pixel 3 XL can be purchased with 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. But the 3a XL offers only a single 64 GB configuration, which is a curious and unnecessary limitation. Google should at least give customers the option to upgrade. (And one could make a case for a 256 GB configuration on the 3 XL as well.)

Cameras. Much is made about how the rear cameras are identical, hardware-wise, on these two handsets. That is, both feature a 12.2MP dual-pixel rear camera with a ƒ/1.8 aperture, auto-focus and dual pixel phase detection capabilities, and optical and electronic image stabilization. But the lack of a Pixel Visual Core chipset could have quality and performance implications on the 3a XL. And the front cameras are quite different: Where the Pixel 3 XL features a dual-front camera system with an 8 MP wide-angle lens with a ƒ/2.2 aperture and an 8 MP fixed-focus camera that offer a super-wide “group selfie cam” mode, the Pixel 3a XL has only a single 8 MP fixed-focus front camera with a ƒ/2.0 aperture.

Audio. Both handsets provide stereo speakers, but the 3 XL’s are front-firing (if a bit biased to the right in landscape mode). And both feature audio over USB-C. But only the cheaper 3a offers a real headphone jack. And boy, do I miss that headphone jack.

Running through this list, I identify the following negatives for the cheaper 3a XL, in order:

  • Performance
  • Photography performance and (potentially) quality; no group selfie cam on the front
  • Storage: A single 64 GB storage option
  • No wireless charging
  • No water resistance

That said, the Pixel 3a XL also has some advantages over its doubly-expensive sibling, which is curious. They are (in no particular order):

  • Battery life (presumed)
  • Headphone jack
  • Less fragile because it’s not all-glass
  • Hey, $400 is $400

Surprising, right? And aside from the potential performance issues which, again, could be the Pixel 3a XL’s Achilles Heel, I feel like I could live with most of the other negatives, especially given the $400 differential. That said, I’d also rather pay $550 to $650 for a OnePlus 7 Pro, assuming that that handset finally delivers on a superior camera.

Who knows? The elusive sweet spot in smartphones may be shifting. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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Comments (54)

54 responses to “Google Pixel 3a XL Preview”

  1. Mitch Laarman

    Headphone jack. Sold!

  2. roland

    "The 3a XL supports only fast (wired) charging thanks to its non-glass, polycarbonate back."

    Actually, due to Google not including the coils for wireless charging. A polycarbonate back is just fine for wireless charging. Remember the Lumias? 920, etc. all had it. By themselves the coils aren't an expensive part, so I agree: a negative point to the 3a line.

  3. PeterC

    Sorry people. I just don’t get all this pixel 3a xl hype going on. Speaking as a UK customer, this price point is chocka block full of phones with superior specs, looks, battery life etc..... just take a look at the upcoming Honor 20 launching in a weeks time, the camera tech looks staggering. There’s decent Samsung’s, one plus etc etc devices new and then there’s the second user A grade condition market everywhere.

    which brings me to my point. Google sales of the pixel 3 tanked. The device was full of problems. They didn’t sell. Google quickly saw it would be sitting on a VERY LARGE inventory of camera components.... and created a phone to sell as much stock inventory as possible. That’s what this is. A device that appears to be very yesteryear all over, but hey it’s cameras great!

    This is is not a phone to buy if you require a good 2 year life cycle. Nope. Someone’s clearing out the warehouse inventory ....... Sorry for being a party pooper.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to PeterC:

      There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that Google didn't start development of this phone long before they had any idea what the sales were going to be for the Pixel 3/3XL. The turnaround time for design, regulatory and carrier approval, and manufacture of a new phone isn't even close to being that fast.

  4. Andrea Barbera

    Phones like the Lumia 920 had polycarbonate cases and supported wireless charging just fine.

  5. Brian Roelofs

    With respect to the price, you'll see these things go on sale early and often. It is a ludicrous offering at full retail and as you mention a OnePlus goes for not too much more. Knock $100 off the price, though, and these become truly competitive. I think that's their endgame.

  6. wocowboy

    Three things: 1-Having no water resistance at all is a huge no for me. That's just a basic thing that all phones should have because they are designed to be used outdoors and should have at least some protection. 2-64 GB of internal storage in today's world is just ridiculous, since the price of memory chips is just pennies per megabyte. 3-No Micro-SD slot, just "Why?" Cheap Android phones have had those slots for ages, and they can't cost much either. It seems Google is putting all the money on the camera system and leaving everything else on the cutting room floor. Even the screen, with its HUGE forehead and chin and no-name glass is downgraded. This phone may sell well in the third world, it would fill a niche there, but not elsewhere, it's not for me.

    Excellent article, Paul.

    • wright_is

      In reply to wocowboy:

      1. It is, probably, like most other smartphones these days, water resistant. Getting it a bit wet with rain is one thing, diving into a river or pool with it (waterproof) is another entirely.

      2. 64GB is fine for many people. I still have 110GB free on my Mate 10 Pro, for example. My wife has a P-Smart with 32GB and most of that is still free.

    • Kevin Costa

      In reply to wocowboy:

      You are a niche user of a niche group. Water resistance is indeed nice, but is not super essential yet. Like wright_is said, you are probably not submerging your phone into a pool, but if you avoid water drops from entering the USB, speaker and 3,5" jack entrances, you are set.

      64GB is sufficient, if you are not a full time photographer, or a person that keeps tons of music and apps in the phone. I agree with you about the SD card slot, Google should have included one, or have made a 128GB option without one.

      • wright_is

        In reply to Kevin_Costa:

        My current phone is the first waterproof phone I've had since I fist started using mobile phones in 1991. In that time, even when out in the rain and getting soaked through, I have lost a grand total of ZERO phones due to water damage.

        The closest I came was my iPhone in 2010. I was in the UK and had to run from the hotel to the train station (about 500 meters) and it was pouring it down - literally, the water was about 4cm deep on the road and the raindrops splashing up almost to my knees as I ran with my baggage. Everything got soaked through. When I got to the station, I turned off my phone and left it on the ledge above the heater next to my seat on the train. By the time I arrived at the airport, back in Germany, about 6 hours later, I turned the phone on and it was fine.

  7. Tony Barrett

    I have to disagree - strongly. The new 3a/3aXL do not lead the pack on features, performance or much else, but they're priced right and are 'good enough' for 90% of Android phone users. They pack a terrific camera and a clean Android experience. They don't follow the pack with current design trends - and no notch thankfully. Many don't care about waterproofing, edge-to-edge displays, wireless charging, and don't need the latest super fast SoC - they just need something that does the job and will get regular security updates and I think, from the general response so far, these phones are going to be very popular. My last Google phone was a Nexus 5, my next phone could be a 3a.

    • jedwards87

      In reply to ghostrider:

      The only thing I disagree about is water proofing. I think you under estimate just how important that is to people. And even though this phone is cheaper not being water resistant is a big no no. People are so used to their phones being able to be near water this is going to be trouble. I am amazed when on vacation how many people walk into the ocean with phone in hand.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to jedwards87:

        I take your point. Out of the things I mentioned, maybe waterproofing - even some IP rating, you be useful, but I guess it all adds to the cost to get them certified. I still think for many though, it's not that important.

  8. Vladimir Carli

    I think this text perfectly explains why apple owns half of the smartphone market in the US. If cost is less of an issue, there is little reason to go android. Basically you can't have an android phone without serious limitations, being these google's own nonsense or the awful launchers custom built on top of android

    • jgraebner

      In reply to Vladimir:

      iPhones have plenty of limitations of their own, particularly when it comes to the amount of customization available to the owner. Every device has its limitations and every buyer has to decide which capabilities are important to them.

  9. B Mallon

    In reply to jlmerrill:

    Wow. Insightful!

    Why make a comment like that when staying silent does fine.

  10. X911ty12

    I don't get all reviewers stating 4GB of RAM is a negative?1? Two seconds ago that was flagship level and until recent generation was not even an option on iphone. If the phone can't run competently on 4GB there is something seriously wrong.

  11. Winner

    Somehow my 1.5 year old Pixel 2 XL is not experiencing that Android performance degradation everybody talks about.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Winner:

      I've never seen any performance degradation running Android. The only time you may get issues, is on major updates, when a full reset might be worthwhile, but even then, I've done numerous upgrades and rarely have issues.

  12. slerched

    What the hell do you do with a 3XL that doesn't get you all day battery life?

    I have the 2XL that has had no issues. Only time I don't make an entire day is when I'm spending 3 or more hours on Fate Grand Order.

  13. Allen Markham

    A bit about pricing in general. Virtually no product today is priced based on cost plus a % for profit. Cost is only used to determine if a product can make a profit at a particular sales price. Price is usually set to the maximum price that can be charged and still reach the sales goals set for the product. When a company mentions a reduced price due to lower cost parts that's just marketing. Phones today are priced high because people are buying them at those prices - buyers may feel justified in paying extra because they have "high end" parts, but that too is marketing.

  14. jdmp10

    Something not mentioned in the specs breakdown you provided Paul is that the 3a line uses eMMC storage, not the UFS based storage most recently flagships use, the 3 and 3XL included and historically eMMC memory doesn't age well, degrades at a faster rate and this alone should be a cause of concern for those thinking about financing the devices for 2 years or more. While the camera is still the 3a's biggest selling point, all factors should be thoroughly evaluated before thinking the 3a is good value for money, in my opinion, it is not.

  15. stackdaddy

    The phones and features have all peaked. So a phone at this price that runs better than the pixel 2 with the same pixel 3 camera for under $500 is a crazy good deal. Also how worried are you going to be about long term slow down if you can trade in and get another in a year for $150-$200? I think we forget these phones are not PCs they do not have the longevity. Also on the other hand remember the last official Nexus 7 update totally screwed the device, speed decreased by almost half due to OS changes (trim). But I feel as though Google plans to do a better job now or at the very least make it easy to upgrade to a new device. We will see

    • jedwards87

      In reply to stackdaddy:

      They do have the longevity and that is one of the issues with slowing phone sales. Price is only part of the reason phones sales have dropped. People are hanging onto their phones longer because quite frankly there is less and less reasons to upgrade. The same thing happened with PC's.

    • wright_is

      In reply to stackdaddy:

      Most people I know buy a phone in the 200 - 300€ range and expect to replace it in 3 - 5 years time. Slowdown is important, as are security updates.

      One of my brothers-in-law still has a Galaxy S4 mini, I think his wife has the somewhat newer S5 mini. My daughter's boyfriend still uses an iPhone 4S - it was a hand-me-down, but as a student, he can't afford a new phone.

  16. ozaz

    "but for just $50 more, you can get a terrific OnePlus 6T that ships with truly high-end components"

    Isn't the OnePlus 6T $100 more?

    Pixel 3a XL: $479; OnePlus 6T: $579

    Also, what about for those of us more interested in the 3a ($400) than the 3a XL? Is there a phone within $50-$75 of $400 that you consider a better proposition than the 3a?

  17. m_p_w_84

    As someone who has owned only an iPhone since what? 2007... I am craving to change to a fresh/new/different/?better platform... i.e. try android.

    It’s soooooo frustrating that 12 years later Android phones still don’t get regular updates, the play store is still bloated with malware, and their phones still fatigue so much.

    I’m not saying iPhones are perfect at all... heck... I want to switch to Android. But these issues are just total road blocks. I can’t understand why Google, now they have total market dominance, don’t throw their weight around to force more change via manufacturers.

    • robinwilson16

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      I'm the same. I always get given cheap Android phones for work and the experience on these is so negative, slow and frustrating. Whilst I realise comparing a £100 Android phone to a £1,000+ Apple phone is rather unfair, and better Android phones would probably not have as many issues, it really is a turn off. £100 Windows Phones offered a fast and refreshing experience but the experience of £100 Android phones is very different; really slow, have to remove pre-installed apps due to lack of space, no updates, cheap-feeling devices, etc. It looks like things are improving somewhat but when a system is apparently built on Java (correct me if I'm wrong) I could never see that performing efficiently.

    • warren

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      So it doesn't matter to you that you'd get a ton more features, right on day 1, by switching to Android? You'd rather worry about not getting even more features a couple of years down the road?

      I loved my iPhone SE, but holy crap, moving to a Galaxy S10e has been a revelation. I can charge with the same plug I use to charge my Switch.... I can organize icons however I like without being forced to a grid... I've got chat bubbles for messenger conversations.... all my Android notifications are also sent to my Windows 10 machine..... there's no intrusive notch..... there's a fingerprint reader....

      There are a ton of novel features, too, like having the screen go grayscale at a predetermined time every night to nudge you off your phone. There's a notification style where it illuminates the border of the screen for a moment, even if the rest of the screen is off.

      So much cool stuff you're missing.

    • obarthelemy

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      "Updates" don't mean the same thing on Android and iOS though.

      On iOS, updates are everything: core OS, ecosystem features, 1st-party apps, security, support libraries

      On Android, OS updates only cover the corest core of the OS. most features, all 1st-party apps, ecosystem features, security, libs are all updated separately.

      So, iOS users are trained to think a non-update OS is a catastrophe. Apple fixed a bug in iMusic ? Need to update the OS. Apple release Apple Pay ? Need to update the OS. Bug in Safari ? Need to update the OS. But none of that applies to Android. Even major platform features, (say, when Google introduced Pay) don't require an OS update.

      Case in point: my old Galaxy Note 10.1 from 2011 died early this year. It was still running all my apps but one (MS Office), and had access to all the features I cared about. That's w/o an OS update for over 5 years. I could have hacked LineageOS onto it, but it wasn't worth the effort.

      So really, all Androids get most updates for years, actually for longer than iOS. You just have to look past the headline number Apple trained you to track.

    • wright_is

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      The updates situation is a lot better than it was. Most of the big names (Huawei, Wiko, Samsung, Nokia, Lenovo, Oppo) provide regular updates - not being Pixels, they generally get the updates a month after Google has released them*, but they are getting them. Back in the 2010 - 2016 time frame, it was certainly the case that many manufacturers only released 1 or 2 updates, total, for their phones. But today, even many of the lower end phones get regular updates.

      Certainly my Huawei Mate 10 Pro and P20 phones and my wife's P-Smart all get monthly security updates - the Mate 10 and the P20 even got Pie updates as well. The Mate and the P20 both got security updates in the first week of May with the 2019 April Security Updates from Google. They probably won't get more than 3 years of updates; but with talk of Apple dropping the SE from the next round of updates, Apple isn't quiet so shiny any more, either.

      * I believe Google generally release the source code of the patches back into the channel at the same time they issue the updates for their own devices.

  18. ruusterc

    the thing i worry about is qaulity control because you had alot of problems with the pixel 3 xl which is much more expensive so this been cheaper i hope they havent cut back on the qaulity control

  19. ggolcher

    I have serious buyer's remorse with the Pixel 3 knowing that the 3a came out. I feel burned by Google as I would have much preferred the 3a.

    • nicholas_kathrein

      In reply to ggolcher:

      I'd bet if this sells well Google will continue to make a high end phone in October and then in around may release the budget version. This would be a good way to cover both parts of the market without eating their high end sales by having them compete on roll out in October.

  20. Kevin Costa

    Some of your complaints are a bit biased, in my opinion. For example: the SoC, RAM and screen. I have a phone from 2015 (Moto X Force, known as Droid Turbo 2 in the US), and it has the same processor from Nexus 6P (Snapdragon 810), and it has 3GB of RAM. The performance, even today, is pretty good, and I use a LOT of apps daily.

    The Pixel 3a is not a flagship by any means (the price proves it), and it does not need to have the high-end hardware specs from its big brother. A Snapdragon 670 is an excelent SoC, not as good as a 845 of course, but why the need for so much power, when you just need half of the power most of the time. I bet that the 3a's camera is better than 90% of Androids handsets today, even without useful gimmicks like Pixel Visual Core.

    About the screen, a Full HD+ OLED 402 ppi screen is nothing to sneeze at, being better than a iPhone XR screen. Way above average.

    Users don't need the latest cutting edge hardware all the time, they can make use from much less. It all depends of the price, for me the Pixel 3a is an great choice for the price. I will wait for your review.

  21. timo47

    "The 3a XL supports only fast (wired) charging thanks to its non-glass, polycarbonate back."

    Come on Paul, you don't need a glass back to support wireless charging! Have you forgotten about Nokia's Windows Phones that were built entirely from polycarbonate and supported wireless charging? Such as the 920?

    Putting a glass back on a phone is one of the must stupidest trends in recent years. It's not required for anything. And the so-called premium feeling you get out of it is lost because it turns your phone in a bar of soap forcing you to put the phone in a case.

    • rupertholmes

      I miss my WP everyday. I now have an Android, Nokia 9, filled with mostly useless Apps, a glass back that I put in a case, a battery that cannot be easily changed, and worst part, less of a camera.

  22. dcdevito

    That phone is well priced but you get what you pay for. Tell me how it’s performing in 12 months with a midrange SoC and eMMC storage. This is the Nexus 5x all over again yet the press is drooling over it for some reason. Perhaps because it has a headphone jack. I don’t get it. To me the best value in a smartphone is still the iPhone XR. But I guess I’m biased.

    What’s even wilder is that the new GoogleAssistant they unveiled to debut on new Pixels this fall will never make it to these midrange Pixels, they simply don’t have the compute power for that.

    • nicholas_kathrein

      In reply to dcdevito:

      Actually your most likely wrong. The SOC runs just fine. Look at the reviews. The assistant 2.0 doesn't need a crazy powerful processor. They are just putting it in the new pixel 4 first to juice the sales. At some point next year all the pixels will get assistant 2.0 include this one. They'll even get it on the Google Home and home mini as long as they have a GB or two of storage for this new on device voice model. Then after that maybe at the end of 2020 it will be on all Android handsets. If you watch back Google IO nothing said this was processor intense. It was all ablout shrinking the size of the model to fit on the device.

  23. obarthelemy

    My default phone recommendation is the much cheaper Redmi Note (the 5 even today, the 7 is more expensive, 25% faster, but the camera is worse). That Redmi Note 5 is $150, and is the yardstick by which I judge all other devices. It's cute, speedy enough, good daytime pics, huge battery, SD+jack+infrared+FM Radio, solid HW and SW. There are very few cases for which one needs something more expensive: gamers, low-light pics, and special cases (I use its 7" "Max" sibling).

    It's always a bit jarring to read US reviewers who a) lack that frame of reference, b) are willing to spend way above average on a phone, c) have random hang ups ("materials" for Ars' Ron Amadeo; "vanilla Android", "OS updates" even though MIUI has had *nice* gestures for over a year when AOSP still hasn't figured them out and dual-apps with alternate credentials;...). US reviews feel 10 year old, plus OnePlus. There's a reason the fastest-growing OEMs are Huawei and Xiaomi.

    I'm sure those Pixel are very nice. I'm sure when I talk about them to people who ask for advice, I'll get a "not worth it, I want something cheaper". Rightly so.

    Edit: I think the US are premium-heavy because contracts are so expensive. In France, you get unlimited + perks (tethering, roaming,...) for $20/mo. It's shocking to pay 5x yearly service for a phone ?

  24. Daekar

    Curious that they left wireless charging off, considering that plastic backed phones can handle that just fine. Will be interested in your assessment of the performance of the lesser SoC.

  25. andyo


    The Pixels 3 have autofocus on their main front camera, they're not fixed-focus. It's one of the truly underrated features of these phones and why such selfies come so sharp compared to other phones, even the Pixels 2 which have otherwise similar cameras and processing.

  26. Yaggs

    The big deal to me here, and also why I think this is getting so much more press, is the fact that these new devices will be available at all the carriers. Say what you want about a lot of the great phones out there like the OnePlus, the Honor devices, etc... they might offer better performance at similar price points but they are not easy to buy. You can't just get one of those from Verizon, AT&T, etc... at least not easily... and they don't have the Google name behind them.

    Apple is offering a *cheap* version of the iPhone... it costs twice the price of these new Pixels. These phones are a big deal because they are from a company people have heard of (Google) and are available at stores that sell phones and phone plans. They will cost half the price of most other phones on your monthly bill and could really be an option for most of the normal people out there... this is a big deal for those people. Not to mention that buying a Google phone ensures you will have access to Android updates for the next couple of years. Those are all big deals. The Nexus phones were not available at carriers like these ones are and that should make a huge difference with how popular these are with normal people.

    • bassoprofundo

      In reply to Yaggs:

      Not all the carriers... (looks at AT&T)

      • nicholas_kathrein

        In reply to bassoprofundo:

        If it sells well ATT might have to just suck it and do the deal. Right now they must want something that Google doesn't want to give them. They will loose the upper hand if this starts selling very well. Remember that ATT wants customers and if it's clear people are going to the other networks to get this they will have to take Google's terms.

  27. warren

    "We’re seeing the fatigue with some of the flagship pricing of smartphones going up and up and up, and people thinking, ‘You know, five years ago I could buy the best possible phone for half this price"

    So basically, Google created the problem, and now they want to take credit for creating the solution?

  28. anderb

    Normal people will find a screen that is "just 402 ppi" and "does not support HDR" perfectly fine. Normal people don't care about, what one reviewer called, "bezels from 2017". Likewise, 64GB on-board storage with unlimited cloud storage will also be a non-issue to normal people. As will 4GB RAM. Ok, so stats-wise this phone may not appeal to supernerds but that's not its intended market. This phone is for normal people. Lots and lots of normal people.

    • wright_is

      In reply to anderb:

      The Huawei high end phones have also had the same resolution display and Paul hasn't complained about them in his reviews, as far as I can remember. The resolution is certainly high enough for me, with my Mate 10 Pro.

  29. pepesilvia

    My understanding was that Visual Core was there for *3rd party* apps to use, not the stock Camera app. In fact if you recall, there was a news cycle when this chip first debuted that it was disabled out of the box, and would be enabled with a future software update.