Pixel 3a: Everything we know about Google’s cheaper Pixel phones so far
Rumblings of cheaper versions of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have been floating around since late 2018, and we’ve been treated to a steady stream of leaked specs and features over recent months. Earlier this year, it emerged that the handsets will likely be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL − something that was accidentally confirmed by Google in April.
Here’s everything we think we know about Google’s budget-priced Pixels, including alleged price and release details, and what they’ll supposedly bring to the table.
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Pixel 3a − Price and release date
Google usually announces its flagship Pixel handsets in early October, but the Pixel 3a range will almost certainly be launched much earlier in the year.
Google’s annual I/O developer conference kicks off on May 7, and we’re fully expecting the firm to unveil the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL during the opening keynote. The Google Store is currently teasing that “something big is coming to the Pixel universe on May 7”.
The teaser also invites interested parties to sign up for updates concerning the announcement. “The power is in your hands. Sign up to get updates about what’s arriving in May,” the site reads.
Rumours really heated up when Google stopped selling the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL on the official Google Store on April 1.
Around the same time, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems (covering Android, Chrome, Chrome OS and Play), posted a deliciously suggestive tweet teasing an unreleased phone, likely one of the 3a models.
A couple of days later, on April 5, 9to5Google spotted a Google Store listing for the ‘New’ Pixel 3a, alongside a listing for a ‘Google Pixel 3a case’, apparently made from fabric. The listings have now been taken down.
At the end of March, German site WinFuture reported that sources at “European online retailers” had said the standard Pixel 3a will be priced at around €450 euros (~£380/~$500) when it comes out.
Since the current Pixel 3 range retails from €859 to €959 (for the Pixel 3 XL), the report indicates that the cheap model would cost approximately half the amount of the full fat version. However, WinFuture cautions that the price quoted is “anything but reliable” and should be treated with “extreme caution”.
Reliable tipster Roland Quandt later claimed that the Pixel 3a and 3a XL are currently being tested in India, where they could be available for much less than they’ll cost in other markets. The equivalent of $300 (~ £230) and $350 (~ £270), apparently.
Pixel 3a − Design and display
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are expected to be slightly stripped down versions of the Pixel 3 handsets, both in terms of specs and build materials.
Back in November, photos of a Pixel 3 lookalike codenamed ‘Sargo’ cropped up on Russian mobile technology site Rozetked.me − previously responsible for contributing some Pixel 3 XL leaks earlier in 2018. The pictures in question show what appears to be a phone almost identical in design and size to that of the standard Pixel 3, albeit with a few key visible differences.
The body of the Lite in the photos is completely white and seemingly hewn from shiny plastic, rather than glass as on the standard Pixel 3.
Despite the material change the phone still seems to offer the signature split-finish ‘visor’ design found on every other Pixel phone, along with a corner-mounted primary camera and a centrally-positioned rear fingerprint sensor.
Other convincing-looking touches that lend credibility to this handset included a shiny ‘G’ logo on the lower half of phone’s back and a brightly coloured power button; which appears to be yellow, as opposed to green on the white Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
One top shot of the phone also reveals a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, something that’s been completely devoid from Google’s phones since 2017’s Pixel 2 series.
As well as showing off what the 3a models might look like in black as well as white, these renders also draw attention to the apparent SIM tray placement (on the side, rather than bottom) and dual downward facing speaker grilles either side of the USB-C port − a deviation from the layout on the standard Pixel 3 models.
The Google Store listing spotted by 9to5Google in April said that the regular Pixel 3a will feature a 5.6-inch, 2220 x 1080 OLED display, and that the Pixel 3a XL would be equipped with a 6-inch, 2160 x 1080 screen.
Pixel 3a − Battery and features
The Google Store listing said the Pixel 3a would be powered by a Snapdragon 670 chipset − a far more middling, albeit expected, setup compared to the flagship-class Snapdragon 845 found in the flagship Pixels.
That will apparently be accompanied by 4GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery. There’s no word yet on microSD card storage expandability (something not available on the standard Pixel 3 and 3 XL).
Pixel 3a − Camera
If the renders are to be believed, the 3a models won’t possess the same dual front-facing wide-angle camera setup as the existing Pixel 3s. Instead, the single sensors on the front and back of both models are expected to clock in at 8-megapixels and 12-megapixels respectively.
Whether Google plans to use the same Sony IMX363 image sensor as found on the Pixel 3 for these new cameras is unknown, but based on the software/cloud-based image processing prowess that the company has already demonstrated there seems little reason to change up the recipe just yet.
If the Pixel 3a’s camera is anywhere near as good as the Pixel 3’s, this could well be a phone worth buying.
Are you tempted by the idea of the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.