Google Pixel 3A review: a $399 phone with a great camera
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Google Pixel 3A review: a $399 phone with a great camera


– There’s new Google phones! This is the Pixel 3a, and then there is a
slightly bigger Pixel 3a XL. And, here’s what you need to know right at the top of this review. This is a solid phone
that costs 400 bucks, and it has a great camera. That combination of those
three things never happens. To start, I just want
to lay out the basics of why I think this phone is so remarkable and why a lot of people are
going to be really happy if they go out and buy it because there’s really
nothing else like it on the market right now. If you want to go out and buy a smartphone with a great camera, you’ve
got a couple of options. You can get something in
the top tier of what’s good and what you can trust, but to do that, you have to spend a minimum of like six or seven hundred bucks, and sometimes you end up
spending well over a thousand. Your other option is to
scrabble around for a deal or to look for a slightly older phone. If the camera’s less important to you, you can get a lot of surprisingly
decent Android phones for less than 500 bucks, and, lately, they don’t even have the
compromises that you might expect. A lot of them are fast and nice looking and even have recent software. But, none of those cheap Android
phones have great cameras. The Pixel 3a, though,
it has a great camera. For the most part, I
can’t tell the difference between photos shot with this phone and photos shot with a regular Pixel 3, which costs about 300 dollars more. I’m not even going to tell you which of these photos is which because they’re so close to each other that it doesn’t matter. They might as well be identical. And, you get the same camera
features as a regular Pixel 3, including Night Sight for low light shots and a new time lapse feature that’s coming to all Pixel phones. On top of all of that, it has good design, a nice OLED screen,
reasonably load speakers, and a guarantee to get the
most up to date versions of Android first. And, hey, what, look at that! It’s an honest to god,
regular old headphone jack, right on the top. The small one costs 399, and
the one with the big screen, and also no notch, costs 479. They’re available on
Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Google Fi, and U.S. Cellular. And, it’ll also work on
pretty much any other carrier that you have. That carrier support actually matters because it means you can
go to your local store instead of dealing with
mailing stuff back and forth to Google if you have a
problem with the phone. So, what’s the catch? There’s always a catch right,
there has to be a catch. Well, yeah, there are a few. There’s two big things, and
then a dozen little things that you’re going to be giving
up by not buying a phone that costs 750 dollars or more. First, and probably most
importantly, it’s not super fast, it’s kind of slow. Here, look at this, I just
reset both of these phones, so they’re fresh, and
were going to launch apps on both of these at the same
time so that you can see that there is a delay. Mostly when you open apps, you’re going to find that they
take a second or two longer to open up than you’d want. You see it, right? That slow down is because
the chip inside the Pixel 3a is the Qualcomm Snapdragon
670, which isn’t as fast as the 845s and 855s you get
on more expensive phones, like the Pixel 3 or the Galaxy S10. And, it’s definitely not as fast as the processor on an iPhone XR. The weird thing though is, once I get into just using
the phone, it didn’t feel slow and it didn’t stop me from
doing anything at all, even playing intense games, like PUBG on high graphic settings. The camera doesn’t process photos as quickly as it could either because it doesn’t have a
separate image processing chip, but, again, that didn’t change the quality of the pictures that I took. Is the faster speed that
you get on a premium phone worth spending an extra 300 dollars? Maybe not. But one thing to consider is that overtime we know that all phones tend to slow down, and that’s been a particular
issue with the Pixel 3 and that phone isn’t even a year old yet. So, if you’re not in a hurry to buy, it might be worth taking
a wait and see approach with the Pixel 3a. The second thing that you lose by not buying a more expensive phone is just overall build quality things. The things that make a phone
just look and feel really good, that make you feel like you
have a nice thing in your hands. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the
Pixel 3a feels cheap, but it’s definitely not
premium, whatever that means. Actually, we know what premium means and why this phone doesn’t
fit into that category. First, it has a plastic,
sorry, polycarbonate body. It has these big bezels,
especially the top and the bottom. It doesn’t have two cameras on the front. It doesn’t have wireless charging. It doesn’t have an
in-screen fingerprint sensor or facial recognition. Losing all that stuff isn’t too painful, as long as the overall
experience is well designed and pretty good, and the
Pixel 3a is those things. You can get it in white or
black or this color right here, which Google calls purple-ish. It looks good. The only build quality thing I
really have to complain about is that its not water resistant,
and that one kind of hurts. The other thing that makes
an expensive phone premium is a killer screen. Something that not only goes edge to edge, but is also tack-sharp and color accurate and maybe has some techno features, like fast refresh rates or whatever. The Pixel 3a does not
go in for all of that, but it does have a nice OLED screen. It’s maybe not the highest resolution and the color temperature on the small one runs a little bit yellow-ish
for my taste, but, then again, it’s better than the Pixel 2XL
from a couple of years ago. It’s also a glass screen, not plastic, but it’s not technically
Corning Gorilla Glass, it’s something called
Dragontrail, but whatever. I think the screen is totally fine. When a phone costs 750 or 1200 dollars, you should knit-pick the
hell out of the screen. That doesn’t mean it’s
okay for a cheaper phone to have a crap screen, but, luckily, this is not a crap screen. I think it’s all right. So those are the two major things you lose out on compared
to a flagship phone: the overall speed and the premium feel of the body and the screen. But there are a bunch
of other little things that most people probably
won’t lose sleep over, so let’s see. It doesn’t have stereo
front facing speakers because the bottom one
fires downward instead. It doesn’t have the fastest networking, so you won’t get ultra
broadband speeds on WiFi or LTE. It doesn’t support Daydream VR, and you can’t do wide angle selfies which, honestly, I am kind of sad about, but also I’m kind of over
it, but I don’t know. Oh, one annoying thing I should mention, Google Photos will only give you the regular high quality
backups for free here. To get the full resolution,
original quality for free, you have to step up to a full Pixel 3 which I think is a cheap
move, but whatever. Anyway, the important thing
that Google managed here is nailing the basics. So, for example, battery life is great. If you’re an Android
person, you’ll want to hear that I’m getting about four
to four and a half hours of screen time on the small one and even better on the big one. For everybody else, you should know that it’ll last a full day, unless you do something
really battery killing, like sit in an hours long video conference or play a really graphically intense game. And, again, the camera is great. It’s on par or better
than the iPhone XR, XS, and Galaxy S10. Video quality could be better, and phones like the Huawei
P30 Pro are beating it on low light photos, but, still, this thing costs 400 dollars. I don’t know if I have ever
said a 400 dollar phone had a great camera before. Also, I’m going to
repeat myself again here, headphone jack. (upbeat music) Am I recommending this phone? Yes, if you want a phone
for less than 500 bucks. You get Google’s version of Android which is clean, and easy
to use, and always updated. You get that camera, and you won’t have anything
that annoys you day to day. Like I said, even the speed thing hasn’t bothered me that much. Do I think this thing
will sell like hotcakes? I honestly don’t know. People aren’t upgrading
phones as often now, maybe that means that, when they do, they’re going to want get
nicer, more expensive models that they hang onto for longer. But, I do know this. I have been waiting for Google
to make this exact phone for something like five years. Google used to make phones
that were ridiculously good for the price, shout out to the Nexus 5, and I’m glad that it’s getting back to it. This is the kind of phone
that Google should be making, something really good
and really affordable. Hey everybody, thank you
so much for watching! Let me know what you think of the Pixel 3a down in the comments. Does it seem like it’s the phone for you? And also, obviously, keep
it locked to The Verge. We have a ton more Google
I/O content coming for you.

100 Comments

  • Hongbang dynasty

    he goes on at the end to complained about the little things that bothered him which basically wipes away any credence he gave to the phone in his opening statement in the first place.

  • fatalradius

    Pixel 2XL user here….My phone has not slowed down one bit, and the battery is still very strong…The Pixel 3 is defective if it slows down. Return it.

  • Keita Parada

    My sister has a pixel 3a, it's alright, my Nokia 6.1 is better. My Nokia 6.1 feels better, the camera is alright, it's fast, looks better and all metal unibody. But it's good for my sister, she owned the original pixel. Great review

  • Christopher Walsh

    Tech reviews are always so disconnected from what matters to people! " It doesn't have two camers on the front, and the app opens a second later" K, I'll survive.

  • starsShineInTheNight

    This phone looks great. However, my issue is PRIVACY in the Google ecosystem vs PRIVACY in the Apple system. Apple as far as I know isn't mining your data. Privacy is important. How do others feel about this? I think if there was some assurance of not using your personal data for ads or whatever, I would feel better… I know this is a general problem, but this is not a free item…

  • Didik Purnomo

    I bought the note for 1000 in November. I have broken the screen twice now… not buying an expensive ( glass) phone ever again !

  • tom365

    Tempted until I saw how slow it is in opening apps. If it's like that now just imagine 6 months for now. No thanks

  • David Celaya

    The only deal breaker for me would be that Rear fingerprint sensor. Had one of those on my Nexus 5x. Never got use to it. Can't unlock phone when it's on a table (gotta pick it up). Can't easily use it when it's in a car holder (gotta reach around). And tough to put a stick on wallet on the back (always hitting the top of credit cards/ID). But if that great camera is worth it for you, then enjoy 🙂

  • Ivan Ds

    I love the fact that they brought the headphone jack on this one tbh… When my Bluetooth ear buds battery dies I can just plug my wired ones… 🔋🔌 Call it old fashioned but not everyone can afford multiple Bluetooth earbuds or battery packs!

  • Top Frog

    I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S8 that I got for cheap because it's pre owned. Should I get the Google Pixel 3A or wait for a new Samsung phone that is also cheap?

  • TrendFlinger

    Agreed with you completely. Amazing phone and especially amazing camera.. Checkout some Google Pixel XL camera pictures review @ @4oVU

  • Black Jesus

    All Cell phones do is give the criminals a link to You so they can track you, and hack into your phone. I hate cell phones.

  • EP4LFC

    +1 for saying this is essentially a Nexus 7 phone in all but name. Also, does anyone else feel it's useless to purchase ANY phone over $500 if it's not going to last more than 3 years in terms of performance, security updates and battery degradation (unless battery is easy to replace)? Would you purchase an $800 laptop if you knew it was designed to be replaced in only 2-3 years?

  • clementckw

    Yes the Nexus was great but sadly I had to change it recently, but before this came out so I settled for an android one phone the Motorola one which so far has been great and checks all my boxes for a low cost basic no hassle phone. The camera could be better but it's also 200 dollars cheaper than this pixel 3a. Still, I probably would have gotten the pixel 3a if I had waited a couple of weeks longer for the Google brand

  • Cage Fury

    It's disappointing that any reviews I've come across don't seem to mention that horrible artifacts that show up in blacks/dark scenes, especially noticeable in dark environments. I was super happy with the phone until I started to notice this, and it was enough to for me to end up returning it.

  • James L Manley Jr

    I would of never thought I would really enjoy using the Google Pixel 3a XL. I'm really tired of spending 1,000 plus dollars on a smartphones, and the camera on the $400 Google Pixel 3a Blows and the door off your $1449 iPhone XS Max. In the social media world today, the camera is the most important feature on a smartphone! I have a iPhone XS Max, Huawei P20 Pro, OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7 Pro, and I just got the Google Pixel 3a XL; and I Love it!

  • LORI FISHER

    I been wanting a great camera for my wedding and honeymoon and I have it right here I am in love with my Google pixel 3a

  • Sunnny Singh

    Guys in India pixle 3a cost $642 and one plus 7pro costs $700.. I am confused what I shall go for ..pls suggest

  • Salman Ijaz Bhatti

    I am leaving Samsung and moving to pixel line up. They don't care about their customers after they sell the phone. Horrendous software update track record by Samsung. I will vote with my wallet on this.

  • iiEll ie

    I just got my pixel 3A yesterday for my first phone and I'm in love with audio and camera quality I honestly think that the pixel is better than any iPhone!!!

  • J Biggs

    Perfect review! Clear, concise, funny and thorough – with the perfect level of detail. Told me everything I needed to know in a reasonable amount of time. Carrier support point was key. Oh, and great production. Music was thankfully not too distracting. Nice job! I actually think the 3a will do very well.

  • Fransini A.

    Could you elaborate more on how the RAM and snapdragon capacity impacted your daily use of the 3A with all the regular apps you tend to use? ALSO, could you elaborate on the networking WiFi/LTE part? does that mean the phone will spend a long time trying to connect to any network, and the LTE part it will have issues picking up reception?

    Thanks in advance

  • Calvin Ku

    I got myself a Pixel 3A XL after watching this video and I really regret it. It's got a really good screen and a really good rear camera just as said in the video. But there's one big problem about this phone is that it's way too slow when you run lots of apps on a daily basis. I don't play video games on the phone and I'm not like a super heavy user. But I use roughly 10 to 20 apps everyday, for chatting, for accessing my bank account, for web, for Instagram, for messaging so on and so forth and it get's incredibly slow the longer you use this phone. I'll probably give this phone to my dad as he doesn't use as many apps as I do but seriously for any heavy user this phone is not right for you.

  • MüsliManTV

    I like how a lot of people see the none existing wireless charging as problem, because I really don't get it. I never had wireless charging, but is it really that hard to just plug in a phone? I don't think so

  • Tek Minion

    I have been using mine for 2
    Days and am pretty impressed. The phone for me is fast enough for what I need to do like take pictures, listen to music, android auto, and reply to text messages and email. It's a phone that does a great job at being a phone. Games, and more intense work I leave to my iPad pro 11inch.
    The thing about this phone is, you cant treat it as something it's not, a specd out flagship, but like Dieter says, the experience is actually really good 😎

  • Greg Terzian

    No mention whatsoever of the video capabilities of the phone, which is such an important consideration for a smartphone now. You made the point several times about how great the camera is, but no report on its video. Even more importantly, the fact that this phone cannot be set to shoot at 60 FPS in ANY resolution, which is a very serious issue for many users. He “auto FPS” feature is atrociously indicative of dumbing-down gone excessive. Otherwise, great reporting.

  • Keyboard Warrior

    I bought an unused OG Pixel XL from Argos (its discontinued now which is a bummer) for £200. its a great phone with a great camera, what can I say

  • David Martrano

    Well, the Nexus 6p & 5x had a set of twins the 3a & 3aXL, yikes. For 399.00 best in class camera plus Google Software processing. There are no mid-rangers with this excellent camera. Will they sell boatloads, absolutely!

  • Scott Swarbrick

    Hey guys. Get £40 to spend in the Google store when you buy the new pixel 3a or 3a-XL with this new code : B-OTON68NMPFMQHSSYSIV7U2P

  • Nate W Thibodeau

    The OLED panel on the 3a has terrible color shift and is quite warm(yellow)…just as bad as the Pixel 2 was well known for. It also is blurry, compared to the super sharp and crisp panel Pixel 3.

  • 君愷范

    the color tone is still a bit different between the two cameras as seen on the sample shots…basically different SoC means different ISP…and the better processor still kicks out better pictures even if the other hardwares and algorithms are the same…

  • Gavin Lee

    Just got my pixel 3a yesterday at Best buy -100 for Sprint activation and $80 of gift cards… That was given too me… So I got this phone for only $245 so at this price…. It's definitely worth it hahaha

  • Darren Ung

    Hold on, that high quality thing with the Pixel 3a isn’t a problem. The file size is going to be compressed a little bit, but considering that the camera is 12.2 megapixels—far under the 16 megapixel Google Photos limit—there should be virtually no difference between the photos in Google’s servers and the photos on local storage even if you’re a pixel peeper. In fact, only people who use DSLRs or serious cameras are the ones going to be concerned about “original quality” and at that point why should they expect so much from a $400 phone? Just something to think about when reviewers talk about drawbacks…Google removed or changed features of the 3a for a reason.

  • Marion Dela Cruz

    The pixel 3A is a good phone for people who doesn't mind not getting the best specs. It gives you the best features from a premium phone without breaking your budget. It's not as slow like some reviewers are telling.

  • Martín Romano

    FYI, for anyone worried about performance, my Pixel 3a opened Spotify just as fast as the Pixel 3XL on this video. Thats is almost double as fast as the 3aXL they showed here… And mine isn't factory restored and there were other apps running in the background.

  • trivikram.r Rajendra prabhu

    Thanks for the review verge, can I please get a link to the wallpaper? I am unable to find the red hysteresis wallpaper, thanks

  • Rob

    Hey, just bought this great phone and was wanting to use nova launcher. Is there a way to get gesture navigation working with Nova or is there a launcher that is fully compatible with Pixel 3a xl that allows me to hide apps and also create folders within the app drawer? Cheers, great video

  • Deshmukh Ganesh

    Nice video sir, liked your channel,
    but I would go for Poco F1, and flash Google Pixel 3XL rom, which is for only 270 USD, in India.

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