How good is the Google Pixel 3a’s screen?
- For the £399 price, the OLED panel on the Pixel 3a looks stunning; it’s the best you’ll find at that price.
- Colours pop, viewing angles are superb and, with its 5.6-inch size, there are no visible pixels.
- Brightness is the only minor issue; I’ve found myself pushing it up much further than on some other phones.
Sacrifices can often be seen with displays on cheaper phones. Even “high-end” mid-range devices such as the Honor View 20 rely on LCD rather than the OLED tech of the Pixel 3a’s display.
OLED panels are much more common on flagship phones and offer perfect blacks, more vibrant colours and can also save on battery power, as individual pixels can be turned on and off independently.
This is the best display you’ll find at the £399 price, with little in the way of competition. My only minor criticism is that you’ll find yourself pushing up the brightness levels to 80 or 90 percent if you’re using the phone in sunny conditions.
There are three screen modes: Natural, Adaptive and Boosted. The default setting is Adaptive, and I have kept it on this throughout the review. ‘Natural’ dims things a little, removing a bit of punch from the colours, while ‘Boosted’ looks very much like Adaptive.
Google Pixel 3a display: Brightness
Brightness is in nits, which is a measure of intensity divided by area. Max brightness capped out at around 338.03nits which is fine, but still the weakest aspect of the display. I found myself constantly jacking up the brightness to 80 to 85 percent in order to comfortably see the screen outside.
Related: What is HDR?
Google Pixel 3a: Black levels
The use of OLED as opposed to LCD means that the screen can offer perfect black levels. This is the reason you’ll find that all displays with an OLED panel score the same. OLEDs are still rare at this price point; such panels are more common on pricier phones.
Google Pixel 3a: Contrast ratio
Just like the flagship Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a boasts an OLED display and as such has an infinite contrast ratio.
This is a figure based on the white and black levels – it measures the distance between the darkest blacks and brightest whites.
Getting an accurate contrast ratio on AMOLED screens is impossible; the way they render 0.00 level blacks means readings will always come out as infinite, regardless of the max brightness.
Google Pixel 3a: Colour accuracy
Colour temperature on the Pixel 3a is excellent. It’s very close to the 6500k ideal and ensures that whites don’t sport an ugly yellow tinge.
Google Pixel 3a: Colour gamut
The bog-standard sRGB space is the one used day-to-day, and the easiest to cover. The 100 percent coverage here is great.
Adobe RGB might be an ageing metric but it continues to be favoured by many artists, photographers and designers. Here, again, the Pixel 3a’s screen is excellent.
DCI-P3 is the standard used by most cinemas and it’s been increasingly targeted by mobile device manufacturers to hype up a quality display. The 97.2 percent coverage scored by the Pixel 3a is more comparable to flagship phones than those handsets in the Pixel 3a’s price bracket – further proving how excellent this display is.
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