Pixel 3a review: the peoples Google phone?

Great camera and software make a bargain, let down only by middling performance and battery

Googles latest phone, the Pixel 3a, offers the firms fantastic camera and software for less than 400, cutting a few corners on the way.


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    The pitch for the Pixel 3a is simple: everything that made the 739 top-end Pixel 3 good, but at a lower price.

    From the outside its not immediately obvious what has changed. Google ported the look and feel of its more expensive glass and metal phones into high-quality plastic. It even has the matt back panel with a gloss window at the top, and the same large bezels at the top and bottom of the screen.

    Gone are the front-facing stereo speakers and the dual selfie camera, leaving a more basic look on the front. The 5.6in FHD+ OLED screen is very good for the money, rivalling that fitted to the more expensive Pixel 3 if not quite reaching the quality of phones such as Samsungs Galaxy S10+ or Huaweis P30 Pro.

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    You have to truly scrutinise the back of the Pixel 3a to realise it isnt frosted glass like the more expensive Pixel 3. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

    The top of the phone heralds the surprise return of the headphone socket, while the back has the same excellent fingerprint scanner as fitted to the Pixel 3. Theres no face recognition or other biometric unlock option.

    The Pixel 3a is a light and fairly small phone by todays standards, making it one of the easiest modern smartphones to hold and use one-handed. Weighing 147g its 1g lighter than the Pixel 3 and considerably lighter than the 180g Honor View 20, one of its main rivals.


     

    Overall the Pixel 3a feels well made and fairly sturdy, if not quite as premium as similarly priced metal and glass rivals. When most people will put it in a case, that point is likely moot.

    Specifications

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