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Everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 3a in 2020

Looking back on the Pixel that changed everything.

In 2019, Google released one of the most noteworthy budget phones in recent years — the Pixel 3a. The phone came out of nowhere following three years of flagship offerings, and it ended up making us rethink what "budget" phones should look and feel like.

Between long-term software support, solid specs, and mind-blowing cameras for the price, the Pixel 3a was something special. It's no longer the newest or hottest phone on the market, but it is still important to talk about here in 2020.

Whether you want to revisit our review of the Pixel 3a, see how its specs hold up, or anything else in between, here's what you need to know about the phone!

Latest Pixel

Google Pixel 4a

The new cheap Pixel to get

$350 at Amazon $350 at Best Buy $349 at B&H

The Pixel 3a was one of the best deals of 2019, but if you're shopping for a phone right now, you might as well get the newer Pixel 4a. It has a nicer design, upgraded display, faster performance, and an even cheaper price. It's our new pick for the best value Android phone, so make sure you don't miss out on it.

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Google Pixel 3a Price and availability

The Google Pixel 3a was launched on May 7, 2019. The regular Pixel 3a featured a retail price of $400, with the larger Pixel 3a XL going for $480.

Google has since discontinued the Pixel 3a, though you can still find it available at certain retailers (often selling for around $300). It's still a solid phone at this point in its life, though we wouldn't consider it to be one of the best Android phones you can buy these days.

Google Pixel 3a The Pixel 4a is now available

Our reasoning for that is pretty simple — you can now buy the Pixel 4a.

The Pixel 4a made its debut on August 20, 2020, and it's a better phone than the Pixel 3a in just about every regard. It has a nicer display with slimmer bezels, faster performance, and longer update support. Everything that was great about the Pixel 3a, such as reliable battery life and a compact design, is every bit as good on the 4a.

What makes the Pixel 4a especially impressive is its price. Google sells the phone for just $350, making it $50 cheaper than the retail price of the Pixel 3a when it first came out. If you're shopping for a new budget handset, it's hard to do much better than the 4a right now.

Google Pixel 3a Review

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL look and feel exactly like what Google intended — cheap versions of 2018's Pixel 3 series. The build quality isn't as fancy, and you miss out on wireless charging and a proper IP rating for water resistance, but all-in-all, the phones stood out as some of the best values of their time.

We reviewed the Pixel 3a right when it came out, in addition to a year after its release. Both times, we were impressed with just how good it was given the low price.

The newer Pixel 4a is obviously the better buy these days, but that's only because Google had such a strong foundation with the 3a.

Google Pixel 3a Models

Just like the Pixel 3 and 4 series, there are two phones in the Pixel 3a lineup — the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

They're nearly identical to one another, featuring the same design, processor, RAM, storage, and camera. However, with the Pixel 3a XL, you get the benefit of a larger display and a bigger battery.

These two things do come at a cost, however. The Pixel 3a XL was $80 more expensive than its smaller sibling, but even with that increased price, we still saw it as the best version of the phone to get.

Google Pixel 3a Specs

In regards to specs, the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL had a very respectable offering for mid-rangers in 2019. The OLED screens were especially impressive, though the lack of an IP68 rating was a drag. Here's the full loadout:

Category Google Pixel 3a Google Pixel 3a XL
Operating System Android 11 Android 11
Display 5.6-inch
2220 x 1080
OLED
18.5:9
6.0-inch
2160 x 1080
OLED
18:9
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
2.0GHz + 1.7GHz
Octa-core
64-bit
Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
2.0GHz + 1.7GHz
Octa-core
64-bit
RAM 4GB
LPDDR4
4GB
LPDDR4
Storage 64GB 64GB
Rear Camera 12.2MP
Dual-Pixel Sony IMX363
Optical + electronic image stabilization
f/1.8 aperture
76° field of view
1.4μm pixel width
12.2MP
Dual-Pixel Sony IMX363
Optical + electronic image stabilization
f/1.8 aperture
76° field of view
1.4μm pixel width
Battery 3,000 mAh
18w fast charging
3,700 mAh
18w fast charging

Google Pixel 3a Design

Google's premium glass design for the Pixel 3 and 4 was pretty great, but that's something that couldn't stick around for their mid-range cousin. Instead, the Pixel 3a featured a polycarbonate build.

While not as flashy as glass, the polycarbonate used for the Pixel 3a series still looked really good and had almost the exact same design on the back as the flagship Pixel 3 — including the subtle two-tone finish with a colored power button.

Perhaps the biggest letdown in these regards was the lack of wireless charging. While phones made out of polycarbonate can technically support it, Google chose to omit it.

Google Pixel 3a Colors

Speaking of the Pixel 3a's design, there were three colors to choose from — Just Black and Clearly White from the Pixel 3, along with a brand new color called Purple-ish.

All three options looked really good, though we were quite smitten with Purple-ish. It's a subtle paint job that added a good bit of pop without being too boastful, and to go along with the purple/violet hue, there was a yellow-clad power button that offered gorgeous contrast.

Google Pixel 3a Camera

We boastfully praised the Pixel 3 as having one of the best smartphone cameras of 2018, and wouldn't you know it, Google took that amazing camera and threw it right on the Pixel 3a lineup despite its considerably lower pricing.

Here are just a few of our favorite shots we took with the Pixel 3a.

So, what could you do with the Pixel 3a's 12.2MP single rear camera? In addition to capturing truly beautiful photos, you could also use Google's Night Sight mode to take great pictures in lowlight environments and take advantage of popular features such as Time Lapse and Photobooth Mode.

For the price, you'd be really hard-pressed to find anything that even came close to the Pixel 3a's camera performance. We've seen some subtle improvements with the Pixel 4a, but the Pixel 3a will go down as the budget phone that changed the conversation around camera performance.

Google Pixel 3a Software

In addition to industry-leading cameras, another highlight for Google's Pixel series is its software experience.

The Pixel 3a shipped with Android 9 Pie, but it's now running the latest available version of Android 11.

This is the same Android 11 you'll find on any other Pixel phone, meaning it's super clean, fast, and doesn't bog you down with unnecessary bloat. And, as time goes on, you can relish in the fact that you have three years of guaranteed OS updates and security patches (through May 2022).

Google Pixel 3a Accessories

No phone is complete without a few accessories, and the Pixel 3a and 3a XL aren't exceptions.

If you're still rocking the phone and don't have a case yet, what are you doing?! The Pixel 3a's plastic design is more durable than all of the glass phones we're seeing these days, but that doesn't mean it's indestructible. All it takes is one nasty fall for the phone to get seriously damaged, so do yourself a favor and get a case — there are tons of options for both the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.

The same goes for screen protectors. Nothing sucks more than a shattered screen, but with a protector, you don't have to worry about that. No matter if you have a Pixel 3a or the larger Pixel 3a XL, you need to get one right now if you don't already have one.

Latest Pixel

Google Pixel 4a

The new cheap Pixel to get

$350 at Amazon $350 at Best Buy $349 at B&H

The Pixel 3a was one of the best deals of 2019, but if you're shopping for a phone right now, you might as well get the newer Pixel 4a. It has a nicer design, upgraded display, faster performance, and an even cheaper price. It's our new pick for the best value Android phone, so make sure you don't miss out on it.



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