Google Pixel 3a smartphone
4.3Overall Score
Name: Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL
Price (RRP): $649/799
Manufacturer: Google

Google has done it again, releasing the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL – quality handsets with a stunning camera at a more affordable $649/799 price. That is niche marketing in action.

GadgetGuy loves the Pixel line and still has a Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 (XL models – we are big phone GadgetGuys) which we use as perfect examples of pure Android and Qualcomm reference phones. It is nice to see what a single lens camera can do as well. Enter the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL were no surprise. Both are basically a Pixel 3/XL (GadgetGuy review here) with a slower Qualcomm SD670 processor (was SD845) and the same camera sans the Pixel Visual Core (the SD670 does this). There are a few other changes, but a Pixel is a Pixel and deserves consideration as such.

In fact, this move portends the future of the Pixel 4 series due for launch in October (GadgetGuy rumours here). We are guessing there will be the full-fat version with the SD855 and the ‘a’ version with either the latest SD7XX or SD6XX SoC.

How we rate smartphones

We have paradigms to slot them into market segments based on performance and price.

Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we review against different paradigms for each category.

  1. Foldable $2500+
  2. Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
  3. Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of sales)
  4. Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last year’s flagship at run-out price)
  5. Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
  6. Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
  7. Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the market – good for pre-paid and children)

The Pixel 3a is $649, and the 3a XL is $799 putting them squarely against mid-market offerings like the Nokia 8.1, LG G7 ThinQ, OPPO R17 Pro and last year’s flagship Samsung Galaxy S9. These are very tough competition – all of these are excellent.

Buy here – or you will regret it

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Telco carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.

International models numbers G020A, G020E, G020G and G020H, are not for Australia.

Review: Google Pixel 3a Model G020F SKU: GA00745-AU

Australian Website here.

Although the review is for the 3a, we will note the 3a XL specs in brackets. Performance should be identical.

In the box

  • Handset
  • USB-C 5V/3A and 9V/2A (18W) charger
  • USB-C 2.0 to USB-C cable
  • USB-A (female) to USB-C (male) adapter
  • 3.5 mm earbuds and mic

The first impression

OK, I know Pixel, and it’s utilitarian (some call it dull) looks. Pixel style is not so much bland as functional. This has a plastic two-tone back/frame unibody, the typical largish top brow (no notch) and bottom chin and it is a flat panel with widish side bezels. That all makes for easier repairability scoring a 6-out-of-10 according to iFixit’s teardown.

Those who love Pixel style (a.k.a. Google’s design language) will appreciate the simplicity. In fact, the ‘a’ series may win back those who loved the Nexus program – affordable excellence.

The lack of an alloy frame makes it a little flimsier than the Pixel 3, but it passes #bendgate tests with aplomb. And it still has a side squeeze gesture.

It also has a 3.5mm audio jack – Google says at this price range you expect it to, and it has the usual non-expandable 64GB storage (Google offers unlimited ‘compressed’ Google cloud Photo and video storage).