Google Pixel 3a XL Review: The New Sweet Spot

With its unapologetically plastic body, tremendous camera system, and reasonable pricing, the Google Pixel 3a XL is a winner. And that’s true despite some mid-range specs, a few missing features, and other cost-cutting measures.


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 back, and it eschews the Pixel 3 XL’s giant notch for the non-obnoxious forehead and chin bezels that resemble the Pixel2 family from 2017. And go figure, it looks and feels great. In fact, I like it better than the all-glass Pixel 3 XL design, which is slippery, easily cracked, and results in a weird internal echo and vibration during audio playback.

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Polycarbonate is a great choice. In return for this “concession,” you get a body that will not crack or splinter, and should you actually drop it and mar the surface, the scratch will retain the polycarbonate’s color, which runs throughout the material; there’s no surface paint or coating.

Speaking of color, you have your choice of three: Clearly White, Just Black, and Purple-ish. I opted for the latter and really enjoy it. It’s a subtle purple hue that can look white from certain angles, and it’s about as colorful and attractive as the tan-like Not Pink of my Pixel 3 XL.

And the Google case I bought neatly hints at the underlying color of the handset.

Polycarbonate is also noticeably lighter than the glass and aluminum sandwich design that Google used for the Pixel 3 XL. Where that flagship weighs in at a hefty 6.49 ounces, the Pixel 3a XL weighs just 5.89 ounces. So the Pixel 3a XL is almost 10 percent lighter, and you can really feel the difference when you hold both in your hands at the same time. The Pixel 3a XL seems light and airy by comparison.

Looked at from any angle, the Pixel 3a XL very closely follows the design of the Pixel 3 XL otherwise, and the design aesthetic is consistent with previous Pixels too. There’s a dual-band design to the back, a Pixel standard, a camera, and a rear-facing fingerprint reader. The buttons—for power and volume—-are similarly placed on the right of the device. (The SIM tray is positioned on the left side of the 3a XL, and not on the bottom as with the 3 XL.)

There are a few minor differences beyond the materials. The USB port on the bottom is flanked by two down/side-facing speakers; they are front-facing on the Pixel 3 XL. And there is a headphone jack—a headphone jack!—-on the top of the handset, as God intended.

From the front, the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t look futuristic like the OnePlus 7 Pro and its truly all-screen fascia. But it doesn’t look antiquated either. It is, instead, both handsome and functional and it calls into question the need for notches in the first place.


Perhaps not surprisingly, the Pixel 3a XL display is one key area in which Google sought to save money by using a cheaper and less technically sophisticated part. Despite this, I find that this display compares favorably with the superior—on paper—display used in the Pixel 3 XL. In fact, in comparing multiple identical apps, photos, and videos on each side-by-side, I have trouble telling them apart. Well. Aside from the intrusive notch on the Pixel 3 XL, that is.

The Pixel 3a XL ships with a tall 18:9 aspect ratio 6-inch Full HD+ (2160 x 1080) OLED display that delivers 402 ppi. That doesn’t seem all that great compared to previous Pixels: The 18.5:9 Pixel 3 XL is bigger, at 6.3-inches diagonally, and it has a higher resolution (2960 x 1440) and pixel density (523 ppi). Even the Pixel 2 XL delivered 538 ppi in its Full HD+ display (which was otherwise lackluster, actually).

But these measurements can be deceptive. Despite being taller diagonally, the display on the Pixel 3 XL gives up a lot of usable on-screen real estate, at least when displaying the status bar, because of its obnoxiously large notch. When you look at apps like Instagram or Facebook side-by-side on both handsets, the view on the Pixel 3a XL is only a tiny smidge smaller than on the Pixel 3 XL. In fact, it’s almost exactly the height of the status bar (on the 3a XL). Not much.

The resolution and pixel density differences between the two devices should matter even more. But they don’t. In apps of all kinds—games, productivity apps, photo apps, and video streaming apps—I just don’t see much of a real-world difference when viewed side-by-side. (I configured both displays identically, for example, using the Adaptive colors scheme, and no Pixel supports resolution lowering, as we see on some other Android phones.)

Where the Pixel 3 XL does come out ahead is brightness: That more expensive handset also delivers more whiter whites, if that makes, sense, where the full white areas on the Pixel 3a XL can often look just a tad light gray. But that may be the only major difference I’ve noticed. And it’s not something anyone would notice without specifically comparing the two handsets.

There is one bigger potential downside to the Pixel 3a XL, however: Instead of being protected by the latest Gorilla Glass, the Pixel 3a XL display is instead described as being a scratch-resistant glass called Dragontrail. But it’s not in the same league as Gorilla Glass when it comes to being shatter resistant. So, it’s possible that one could have issues in long-time use. In a few weeks of use, I’ve not noted any issues.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. And in this case, I feel that the compromise was correct in order for Google to meet the Pixel 3a XL’s reasonable price point. And the display looks great.

Hardware and specs

You can get any Pixel 3a XL configuration you want as long as it’s powered by a mid-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor with Adreno 615 graphics, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of non-expandable storage. On paper, each of those components is problematic. But in real-world use, only the storage has really bothered me. I’d like to see at least a 128 GB upgrade.

This may change over time—Android is legendary for its performance rot problems—but I’ve never experienced any meaningful performance issues when using the Pixel 3a XL normally, as I do with any smartphone. Serious gamers will want to look elsewhere, of course, but this handset handled casual games and the Asphalt 9: Legends racing title without complaint. (That said, the sheer size of that game makes it less compelling on the Pixel 3a XL and its limited storage.)

I have seen only two day-to-day performance issues with the Pixel 3a XL and both are, I feel, understandable and acceptable for a phone in this price range. The first is a photo processing slowness which I briefly describe in the next section. The second is related to the voice-to-type functionality in the Gboard keyboard app, which I use a lot because I find typing on small phone screens to be difficult and error-prone.

On the Pixel 3 XL, when I tap the microphone icon on the keyboard to begin speaking, there is quick series of messages that appears at the top of the keyboard and says, in turn, Initializing… and then Speak now. In truth, I never really noticed these messages before because Speak now appears so quickly that I just tap the icon and start talking and it just works.

On the Pixel 3a XL, this occurs more leisurely, and it ends up not transcribing the first few words I say every time unless I remember to wait. It’s roughly the difference between 0-1 seconds (Pixel 3 XL) and 1-3 seconds (Pixel 3a XL), and while that may not seem like a big difference, it’s night and day when you’re trying to speak into your phone.

Neither of these issues is a deal breaker. But I think they do speak, ahem, to the difference in the core, real-world performance of the two handsets. And the question you need to ask yourself is whether it’s worth another $420 so you don’t have to wait one extra second every time you wish to transcribe your voice into text. That pause is real, and is noticeable. But I can wait.

Better still, the Pixel 3a XL never seems to warm up and stay warm, a problem I’ve had with the Pixel 3 XL repeatedly. Whether this is due solely to the more modest internals or that combined with the polycarbonate exterior is unclear. No matter. It always worries me when a phone heats up. So this is a welcome change.

Looking past the performance, the Pixel 3a XL is stocked full of mostly-modern components as one would expect here in 2019. The phone supports all the important carrier bands and works fine on all U.S. carrier networks (It’s even available formally from all of the big carriers except AT&T.) It is fully Google Fi compatible, of course, and supports network switching between both GSM and CDMA networks. It also includes Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band 802.11acn Wi-Fi networking, and NFC.

The battery is a nice improvement over that in the Pixel 3 XL, too: It’s a 3700 mAh unit, up from the smaller 3430 mAh version used in the 3 XL; that, combined with the 3a XL’s less-powerful innards and less power-hungry display should result in better battery life. And that has been my experience: Where I can never get through a solid day without recharging the Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 3a XL has soldiered on nicely.

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 some of which are not. On the negative side, the 3a XL’s speakers are less rich sounding and loud than those on the 3 XL, and the right/bottom speaker is not front-firing. But in the positive column, the Pixel 3a XL does not suffer from the echoes and vibrations I experience on the more expensive Pixel, and the stereo separation is better balanced. (The Pixel 3 XL is heavily biased to the right/bottom speaker, which is irritating.) Given these trade-offs, I prefer the Pixel 3a XL overall 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. So you can perform futuristic tasks like listening to audio via a pair of 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 just my headphones, no dongle, for the first time in a few years. It was great.

One final hardware note: Where I experienced serious audio and microphone issues during phone calls with the Pixel 3 XL, I’ve had a clean, error-free experience with Pixel 3a XL. In fact, the first time I called my wife after switching to the 3a XL, she actually commented, unprompted, that the call sounded great. With the Pixel 3 XL, my audio to her was often mechanically garbled. And I experienced a background static sound on every call; neither has ever occurred with the Pixel 3a XL. It works as it should.


At this price point, one can forgive Google for cutting some corners in the camera department. But the tradeoffs it made are absolutely acceptable. Indeed, most Pixel 3a XL buyers will never notice that anything is missing.

So what is missing? The Pixel 3 XL lacks Google’s Pixel Visual Core chipset, which it says improves the performance and quality of photographs, especially those like the Night Sight shots that require some AI processing. And where the more expensive Pixel 3 XL provides two front-facing cameras to enable a cool ultra-wide selfie mode, the Pixel 3a XL makes do with a single lens and normal selfies.

Practically speaking, this means that the Pixel 3a XL will take a little longer to both take and process Night Sight and other complicated shots, where the Pixel 3 XL takes maybe one second in post-shot processing. In side-to-side shots, however, I don’t see any quality differences between shots taken with the two handsets. And while the ultra-wide selfie mode is nice, I can live without it.

Beyond that, the Pixel 3a XL packs the same hardware as the 3 XL: The rear camera is a 12 MP single lens unit with an f/1.8 aperture, autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, and optical and electronic image stabilization. And the front-facing selfie camera is likewise a single 8 MP normal lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a 75-degree field of view, (The 3 XL’s other front-facing camera is an  8 MP wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a 97-degree field of view.)

It takes excellent photos in all conditions. And better low-light and nighttime shots than virtually any smartphone, including the latest and most expensive Samsungs, Apple, and Huaweis. Not bad for $480. Hell, it’s not bad at $1000 either.


Google didn’t cut any corners when it comes to security: The Pixel 3a XL includes the same Titan M security chip as the Pixel 3 XL, the same speedy and efficient rear-facing fingerprint reader, and the same software security controls. This handset, like the Pixel 3 XL, is also Android Enterprise Recommended, indicating that it meets a high security bar for businesses.

Put simply, the Pixel 3a XL behaves and functions just like the Pixel 3 XL from a security standpoint. There were no issues here at all.

Unique hardware features

As noted above, the Google Pixel 3a XL features the same rear-facing fingerprint reader as its more expensive sibling and it offers the same excellent performance and accuracy. There is no facial recognition option, but that’s probably for the best given how poorly this technology currently works on Android.

Also like the Pixel 3 XL, the 3a XL features Google’s Active Edge technology, which lets you squeeze the lower sides of the handset to summon Google Assistant. I disable this feature, but I might think otherwise if one could configure it to perform other actions.

And again mimicking its much more expensive sibling, the Pixel 3a XL supports fast charging and even includes an 18-watt fast charger in the box. In a concession to cost, there is no wireless charging.


The Pixel 3a XL ships with the latest version of Google’s clean Android 9 Pie software image and, as always, it’s a delight, with no crapware or other superfluous nonsense. As with more expensive Pixels, Google says it will support the Pixel 3a XL with three years of annual Android version upgrades and monthly security updates. Given this handset’s mid-level specifications, it’s likely that you’ll outgrow the phone before it stops receiving updates.

Pricing and availability

The Google Pixel 3a XL comes in a single configuration with 64 GB of storage and costs $480. I would prefer having at least the option to update the storage and feel that 64 GB—especially when non-expandable via microSD—is the bare minimum for an Android handset today.

Regardless, the Pixel 3a XL is a tremendous value for its $480 asking price. A similarly configured Pixel 3 XL costs an outrageous $900. For that additional cost, you get better performance, albeit only subtly in day-to-day usage, wireless charging and water resistance, a slightly better display, Gorilla Glass protection, and a few other niceties, most unnecessary.

Amazingly, the Pixel 3a XL also outperforms the 3 XL in some important ways. Its polycarbonate body is more durable than the 3 XL’s all-glass body and it doesn’t exhibit the same echo and vibration on audio playback. There’s a headphone jack, which the 3 XL lacks. And in my experience, the call quality on the 3a XL is superior, with no static or microphone issues.

There are three color options: Clearly White, Just Black, and Purple-ish, the latter of which is unique to the 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 very best smartphone cameras available today and yet costs about half the price of flagships from Apple, Huawei, Samsung, and, yes, Google too. Depending on your needs, Google didn’t really cut any important features out, either, though I will highlight the lack of storage upgradeability as perhaps the sole serious negative. There are questions about the long-term viability of the Pixel 3a XL’s mid-range specs, of course. But I’ve rarely been this delighted by a smartphone, and certainly almost never at this price point. Has Google found a new sweet spot in a crowded and overpriced smartphone market? I think they have.

The Google Pixel 3a XL is highly recommended.



  • Excellent cameras with superb low-light performance
  • Low price, great value
  • Fun and durable polycarbonate body
  • Headphone jack
  • Speedy and accurate fingerprint reader
  • Fast charging support, bundled fast charger
  • Clean Android image
  • Fully compatible with Google Fi


  • No storage upgrade or expansion
  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • No wireless charging
  • Not water resistant

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Conversation 41 comments

  • nicholas_kathrein

    Premium Member
    21 May, 2019 - 11:21 am

    <p>Great review. Google is going to have to make their Pixel 4 a mix of oneplus 7pro with their great camera and new assistant 2.0. If Google can do that they'll have a winner if they keep it around 750 for the regular size and 850 for the XL. I hope they do that. Put more RAM Google! 10 GBs sounds good.</p>

  • broxman

    21 May, 2019 - 11:22 am

    <p>I got the Pixel 3a last week for about $50 straight from Google! They had the $100 credit that can be used at the Google store ( as many vendors, like Best Buy had) and they offered crazy good trade in deals for iPhones. I traded in a 32 GB iPhone SE for $250 and they offered the same $250 for an iPhone 6 and 6s. I guess they really wanted to convert iPhone users. I've had a very positive experience with it so far. I think I'll also try Google Fi.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 1:35 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429639">In reply to broxman:</a></em></blockquote><p>Nice!</p>

  • yoshi

    Premium Member
    21 May, 2019 - 11:26 am

    <p>Nice review, Paul. I'm on day four with the phone and there's really not much I can complain about. It runs great and feels like a steal at $480. I guess if I had to choose one thing negative to say, it's the brightness of the screen as you mentioned. But it's only something I notice if I'm in direct sunlight, so the compromise isn't bad at all.</p><p><br></p><p>Also, now I wish I had picked the Seascape case instead of the Fog one. I also went with Purple-ish and that Seascape looks sharp on it.</p>

  • broxman

    21 May, 2019 - 11:27 am

    <p>I see the trade in deals at the Google store are now down to a reasonable dollar amount $65 or so for an older iPhone. Guess they offered the crazy deals only for the first week.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 1:35 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429644">In reply to broxman:</a></em></blockquote><p>Interesting. That's too bad.</p>

  • Colin Ricks

    21 May, 2019 - 11:56 am

    <p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Polycarbonate is a great choice, though it prevents the Pixel 3a XL from supporting wireless charging</em></p><p><br></p><p>Why do all the reviews of this device say something like this? Polycarbonate doesn't prevent wireless charging. My polycarbonate Galaxy S7 Active works just fine with wireless chargers. </p>

    • nevadah

      21 May, 2019 - 12:55 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429651">In reply to Colin_Ricks:</a></em></blockquote><p>Exactly. Paul noted, "It features a unibody polycarbonate (plastic) design, like the best Nokia Lumia models from several years back…." My Nokia 920 had a polycarbonate body and wireless charging worked just fine.</p><p><br></p><p>Much more likely they just omitted it as a cost-saving measure, much like OnePlus probably does. And that's perfectly okay.</p>

    • jdmacor

      21 May, 2019 - 12:57 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429651">In reply to Colin_Ricks:</a></em></blockquote><p>Its the second time he said that as well. Polycarbonate ENABLES wireless charging. Metal phones are the ones that prevent wireless charging. But plastics and glass (and wood if they felt like it) would be just fine. Almost every phone case is made from polycarbonate…</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        21 May, 2019 - 3:35 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#429673">In reply to jdmacor:</a></em></blockquote><p>I'm sure I've said it more than twice. I'll keep a running tally.</p>

        • sqirrel99

          22 May, 2019 - 3:51 am

          <blockquote><em><a href="#429745">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p>Maybe you could edit the post to remove the misinformation ?</p>

          • Paul Thurrott

            Premium Member
            22 May, 2019 - 10:10 am

            <blockquote><em><a href="#429860">In reply to Sqirrel99:</a></em></blockquote><p>I did.</p>

    • jimchamplin

      Premium Member
      21 May, 2019 - 1:48 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429651">In reply to Colin_Ricks:</a></em></blockquote><p>I still use my Nokia Qi charging pad with my iPhone XS Max. It was originally used with a Lumia 820 with a red plastic backplate. </p>

  • PeteB

    21 May, 2019 - 1:20 pm

    <p>The best just keeps getting better. Really loving mine. Thanks Google!</p>

  • wbhite

    Premium Member
    21 May, 2019 - 1:23 pm

    <p>Great review, I'm definitely going to consider this (or it's future version) when my Pixel 2 dies.</p><p><br></p><p>On another note, I am now imagining you and Brad going on late night beach strolls together. ;)</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      21 May, 2019 - 3:33 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429679">In reply to wbhite:</a></em></blockquote><p>To be fair, there were others there too. :)</p>

  • solomonrex

    21 May, 2019 - 1:48 pm

    <p>The keyboard mic lag is really curious considering that didn't lag on much older phones, and this is actually a google phone. What 'special sauce' are they adding if not reliable voice queries and dictation? Why are they going backwards?</p><p><br></p><p>Just checked on my two year old s8 – instantaneous. Never noticed the 'initializing' message prior to this, either, since it's usually a distracted driving thing.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      21 May, 2019 - 3:33 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429694">In reply to solomonrex:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yeah, I really don't know what's up. I'd never really experienced it before.</p>

  • bassoprofundo

    Premium Member
    21 May, 2019 - 1:55 pm

    <p>Anyone running one of these on AT&amp;T that can confirm if VoLTE and Wifi Calling work? This same issue has kept me from adopting non-carrier model devices, leaving me pretty much stuck with Apple or Samsung. :(</p>

  • bart

    Premium Member
    21 May, 2019 - 2:17 pm

    <p>I always ask myself the question when buying a phone: when is enough, enough?</p><p><br></p><p>Personally I feel that, much like with PC's, at some point a high end device simply isn't necessary anymore. Of course every person has it needs. But for me, I think phones have now reached that point, where a mid-level phone is good enough. And I am thrilled about it!</p><p>I love the greatest and latest tech, but buying that €1000 laptop, because that €1500 laptop is simply too much, feels……satisfying. At the moment I got the Pixel 3 and absolutely love this phone! But knowing there is a Pixel 3a, that most likely would do the job as well, gives me buyers remorse. That said, am looking forward to buying an 'a'-version Google phone in the future, full well knowing it is going to be good enough. And you know what, the specs are only going to get better.</p><p><br></p><p>Exciting stuff!</p>

  • mterrill68

    21 May, 2019 - 3:50 pm

    <p>Just curious why the case being polycarbonate would prevent the wireless charging. Weren't the Nokia Windows phones made out of polycarbonate and they supported wireless charging? I really wish HMD, or really anyone, would make a phone out of that type of material and let me have my wireless charging with a phone that I wasn't constantly worrying about breaking.</p>

    • jaredthegeek

      Premium Member
      21 May, 2019 - 4:10 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429754">In reply to mterrill68:</a></em></blockquote><p>It doesn't. Aluminum stops wireless charging which is why premium phones switched from that to all glass. Polycarbonate works fine for wireless charging as exemplified by the Lumia line. Notice all the charging pads are plastic and not glass. Google left it off as another reason to upgrade because its a cheap add on.</p>

    • SvenJ

      Premium Member
      21 May, 2019 - 8:33 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#429754"><em>In reply to mterrill68:</em></a><em> </em>I was going to dispute that as well. Cost savings <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">prevents the Pixel 3a XL from supporting wireless charging. Really not a lot of cost savings either.</span></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • JosephDickerson

    21 May, 2019 - 5:25 pm

    <p>I'm extremely happy. it's the first "new" phone I've bought in a long while (I've been using a refurbished Galaxy S7 for almost 2 years) and it's jut terrific. The idea that I can get 20 hours of battery life without battery saver on is wonderful (and the reason I got the XL). Can't wait to take it on my trip to Japan next week and give the camera a true run for its money.</p>

  • dmaddogg

    21 May, 2019 - 7:34 pm

    <p>Thanks for the great review Paul. i am sold. You should have a link in this article to purchase the phone and it should be able to send you a kickback…</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 10:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429801">In reply to dmaddogg:</a></em></blockquote><p>Right. I do that sometimes, but I'm not very good about it.</p>

  • zelmak

    21 May, 2019 - 9:48 pm

    <p>Paul… Thanks for the thorough review. Are you going to review the non XL version as well? I'm probably still going to get one, but I was kinda waiting for your review before I committed…</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 5:10 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429823">In reply to zelmak:</a></em></blockquote><p>Given that Paul has to pay for it out of his own pocket, I would guess he bought the version that made most sense for him to use on a long-term basis.</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        22 May, 2019 - 10:09 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#429863">In reply to wright_is:</a></em></blockquote><p>Right.</p>

        • zelmak

          25 May, 2019 - 12:15 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#429917">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Fair enough. 🙂 Thanks again for all you do for us!</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 10:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429823">In reply to zelmak:</a></em></blockquote><p>No, sorry. </p>

  • craigb

    21 May, 2019 - 10:11 pm

    <p>I love how the aspect ratio is 18:9. Since when did a 2:1 ratio become 18:9 ?? Sounds like Tech gobbledygook. </p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 5:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429824">In reply to craigb:</a></em></blockquote><p>Because consumers are dumb and they have 16:9 TVs and expect 16:9, so 2:1 is worse, 18:9 is better. Come on, do the math! Oh, wait, most people can't do the math without help these days.</p><p>It is like saying something is "15mm thin". NO! It is a measure of thickness, so it is 15mm thick!</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 10:08 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429824">In reply to craigb:</a></em></blockquote><p>I think it better explains the tallness of the display in a world in which 16:10 and 16:9 displays are commonplace and well-understood. </p>

  • wocowboy

    Premium Member
    22 May, 2019 - 6:18 am

    <p>I ordered the 3a and got it yesterday, but I will be sending it back, the gigantic forehead and chin are just deal-killers for me. Paul endlessly berates the iPhone XS for what he calls enormous bezels, and yet he finds the TRULY gigantic chin and forehead of the Pixel 3a to be "non-obnoxious"? I just don't get it. In an age when the cheapest phones from every manufacturer can manage to have a nearly full-screen display, these bezels on the 3a just stick out like a sore thumb. I notice that all pictures in the article of the front of the device are taken from a lay-flat angle instead of straight-on, so you don't really see how big the forehead and chin really are when you hold the thing in your hand. When you include the blacked out area where the navigation buttons are, the bottom chin is about one inch high, which is just ridiculous. So much wasted space, but I guess having a bigger screen would have raised the price by hundreds of dollars. Or something like that. Kudos to Google for getting rid of the huge notch of the Pixel 3 models, but I just can't with the huge chin and forehead. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 May, 2019 - 10:05 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#429865">In reply to wocowboy:</a></em></blockquote><p>I can help you "get it." </p><p><br></p><p>I don't endlessly berate Apple because the iPhone X/XS/XS Max has "what I call" enormous bezels. I criticize Apple for advertising these devices as being "all-screen" when, in fact, they have large bezels and a large notch. The issue isn't that the bezels and notches exist. It's that Apple is misleading customers. You can see this in the planet wallpaper they use in advertising: Around the notch is black space so it hides the notch. You cannot see it in their ads.</p><p><br></p><p>Do you just get it now? </p><p><br></p><p>I have never had an issue with the forehead and chin bezels used by the Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8/S9, etc., and have always preferred this style to the large notches on some phones. I'll let you do this research yourself, but you'll find that commentary in my reviews. Which I guess you're selectively reading for confirmation bias purposes.</p><p><br></p><p>A favor, please. Don't make things so personal. </p><p><br></p><p>And please dear God do not misinterpret what I say and write. The Pixel 3a XL is a $480 phone. There will be concessions. But yes. I really do prefer those bezels to the large notch on the $1000 iPhone XS. It's a review, an opinion. You are welcome to yours as well. Just don't attack me while you make it.</p><p><br></p><p>And seriously. You think I angled photos to … hide bezels? Jesus. That is f@#$ed up. My device review shots are consistent. I angle them because I need to fit them into a 16:9 cropping for the site. And that's how I can fit them. I didn't change this for this review. Because I'm biased to Google all of a sudden and biased against Apple. Do you even read my iPhone reviews? I love those devices.</p><p><br></p><p>What a horrible way to react to an honest review from someone who has had nothing but problems with previous Pixels. </p>

  • Paul Thurrott

    Premium Member
    22 May, 2019 - 10:08 am

    <p>As a number of readers have noted, the Pixel 3a XL's polycarbonate body is not what prevents the device from supporting wireless charging. So I removed that sentence, thanks. </p>

  • Jeremy Turnley

    22 May, 2019 - 5:22 pm

    <p>I've had mine since the morning they launched – I handed off my OnePlus 6T to my wife and traded in an OG Pixel that was sitting in a drawer for $400 in bill credits at T-Mobile.</p><p><br></p><p>For $480, it's great. Heck, for $600 it's great. For $80 after bill credits after trading in a 3.5 year old phone that I bought used for $150 to begin with? It's insane. </p><p><br></p><p>It doesn't QUITE match up to the OP6T in performance, but it's actually pretty close. Battery life is stellar so far, it can indeed last a couple of days with low usage on mostly WiFi (as I discovered yesterday when I went to plug it in and noticed I hadn't done so the night before). I could pull 3 out on the OP6T, but it's still impressive. On more normal days I can get 6 hours of screen on time with a daily charge, vs 7-8 on the OP6T. Given that the GS9 I had prior was lucky to get 4 hours, I am still impressed.</p><p><br></p><p>The trade off for that is the lower screen brightness (although not problematically so), and the weaker radios. Downloads are noticeably slower on both WiFi and mobile than any phone I have had in a few years. That being said, with only 64GB of storage, I am not actually downloading as much so it evens out.</p><p><br></p><p>Software-wise, while OnePlus' version of Android is a real screamer, there are a lot of tweaks they made that I didn't care for, such as their phone app and notification management. I use an app for work that pages me if there is an emergency, which has custom VERY LOUD notification sounds built in. OnePlus doesn't let apps do that for some reason, so I was forced to fall back to the phone call version of the paging system.</p><p><br></p><p>Google's custom Android (and make no mistake, it's as different from "stock" as Samsung's is) manages to be fast and still keep everything working the way you expect it to. I especially like how it detects when you get a security code texted to you and politely offers to copy it for you so you can paste it into whatever sent it. That's a brilliant little thing that more companies need to do.</p><p><br></p><p>The camera? Not quite night and day (especially if you grab the hacked version of the Pixel camera app for the OP6T that enables night sight on it), but it's still a big improvement. If you use your camera a lot, it's very much noticeably better in every way. Just like comparing the Pixel 3 camera to any 2018/2019 flagship, it's not a "wow, that other camera sucks" level of better, but it's better. Just keep in mind that when Marques Brownlee did a blind comparison test between all of the current cameras last year, the Pixel, Samsung, and Apple entries didn't even make it past the first round, and the humble $280 Pocophone F1 finished second. Just because a camera takes good pictures, doesn't mean it takes pictures that people think look good, especially after Facebook/Instagram photo compression squeezes all the life out of them. ;)</p><p><br></p><p>In the end, if you know someone looking for a phone who is coming from another mid-range or a 3-year-old flagship. or a good first phone, you won't go wrong with recommending a Pixel 3a. It does everything most people do with their phones as well as a flagship, for half the cost.</p>

  • mogelijk

    23 May, 2019 - 5:50 am

    <p>One small correction for you, the Pixel 3a is guaranteed to get Android version updates through May, 2022 — three years (per Google support pages), as well as three years of security updates. This is a change Google made with the Pixel 2 — all Pixel phones starting with the Pixel 2 are guaranteed 3 years of Version and software updates from the date the phone was released.</p><p><br></p><p>I have to say that I agree with your review, I absolutely am loving the Pixel 3a XL. Even more interesting to me, I was trying out a Samsung Galaxy S10e prior to getting the Pixel, and I just never could get warmed up to the S10e. Much to my surprise, the Pixel 3a XL (or Axl, as I call it) has become my daily driver.</p>

  • markld

    Premium Member
    31 May, 2019 - 12:10 am

    <p>Got a pixel 3a each for my son and I (not the XL) for our business. </p><p>Paul thanks for your review, timing was perfect! </p><p>Paul is so spot on in guestioning "Has <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Google found a new sweet spot in a crowded and overpriced smartphone market? I think they have. " &amp; I do agree, too</span>. </p><p>His pros and cons are accurate. </p><p>It is a wonderful mid range phone and the price 399$ for the 3a is wonderful. </p>

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