The Google Pixel 3a XL: five things you should know

Google’s new phone may be less expensive, but it’s not cheap


Thinking about the Pixel 3a XL? Here’s five things you should know about Google’s newest phone.

Less expensive doesn’t mean cheap

The 3a XL looks good. Like the Pixel 3 XL, there’s a two tone effect on the 3a XL with the glossy/matte back. But it’s not made of the same material, opting for polycarbonate instead of metal casing. That won’t make a huge amount of difference to most people, although it does save a bit of weight.

The display looks great

The Pixel 3a XL’s display is slightly smaller than the Pixel 3 XL, at 6 inches versus the 3 XL’s 6.3 inches. That’s not the only sacrifice; the display is lower resolution, at full HD+ instead of quad HD on the 3 XL. Is it a reason not to buy it? No. The display is still great - crisp, clear and good colour reproduction. One thing it doesn’t have? The notch. The 3a XL has bezels, although not overly large ones.

The rear camera is the same as the Pixel 3 XL

The camera on the 3a XL doesn’t have quite the same range of functions as the Pixel 3 XL, but it certainly stands up to some of the best out there. There’s no dual camera to get you closer to your subject, but the Pixel 3 didn’t have that either; the dual camera was reserved for the front facing camera so you could fit more into your selfies, with a telephoto and a wide angle option.

What you do get is a portrait mode that gives you control over the depth of field, blurring things in the background to make your subject stand out more. A colour pop option does the same thing with the background colour, fading it down to black and white so your subject - still in full colour - is more prominent. And if you like taking low light photos, the Night Sight mode means you can take photographs without lighting up the place with a flash,

It costs about half the price of the Pixel 3 XL

If you buy the Pixel 3a XL from the Google Store, you get a sim-free phone you can take to any network. The phone will set you back €479, unless you opt to go for a PAYG phone from Vodafone. The you can knock €30 off the price.

It’s not water resistant

That lower price does mean making a couple of sacrifices - but it’s nothing critical. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chip isn’t quite as high powered as the Snapdragon 845 in the premium Pixel 3 XL, but not noticeably so. The display is not quite as high-res either, but again, not so you’d notice. There’s no wireless charging, which is inconvenient but not a deal breaker, especially if you’ve never had it before. And like the Pixel 3 XL, there’s no option to add a memory card to the 3a XL, so your 64GB of space is all you get - and there’s only one storage size. One thing: if you are prone to dropping your phone in sink or toilets, be careful - the Pixel 3a XL is not water resistant.