Google is releasing more cheap Pixels, but surely sacrifices will be made

Google may have only just launched the Pixel 3a, but the company has already picked up widespread praise for bringing something approaching a flagship-level camera experience to the mid-range segment of the market.

Our full Pixel 3a review is yet to go live, but we’ve spent almost a week with the phone so far, and our first impressions are that its camera might actually be up there with that of the Pixel 3.

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Lots of people will, therefore, be thrilled to hear that the Pixel 3a is just the first in a (hopefully) long line of cheaper smartphones that we can expect from Google.

According to Android Police, the search giant “is committing − at least for the foreseeable future − to releasing affordable versions of its Pixel smartphones”. Possibly on an annual basis, possibly not.

However, promising as this news is, it also raises some big questions about the future of the Pixel line. It’s a weird thing to say, but there’s a danger that the Pixel 3a is too tempting a purchase, particularly for consumers based in the US.

Earlier this month, Google revealed that the Pixel 3 isn’t selling as well as its predecessor, the Pixel 2. Though the firm fell short of admitting that it might have priced the Pixel 3 range too steeply, it conceded that it has been struggling to compete with more established smartphone industry players, like Samsung and Apple.

The Pixel 3a range essentially takes some of the best things about the Pixel 3 − the stock Android experience and the incredible camera − and puts them into a cheaper package. That isn’t going to encourage consumers to flock to Google’s flagship mobile, especially those who don’t necessarily need flagship-level performance.

As we wrote in our early verdict: “By sacrificing ‘luxurious’ features, Google has managed to squeeze the essential Pixel features into an excellent £399 phone.

“If you want a handset with a great camera and decent screen, but aren’t so fussed about sheer speed and performance, then you’ll be very happy with the Pixel 3a.”

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If the flagship Pixel line and the cheaper Pixel line are to co-exist, surely Google will have to make more sacrifices in the future, either in terms of features or price.

After all, why would you shell out around £700 for a Pixel 4 if you suspect the Pixel 4a will come out six months later, costing half as much and packing most of its biggest features?

Are you tempted by the Pixel 3a? Let us know why (or why not) on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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