Google Pixel 3a will be worse in every single way, except the one that matters
Google will cut corners on everything except the camera to achieve a more affordable price point, new leaks suggest
Google looks set to debut a pair of new smartphones during its Google IO developer conference held in Mountain View, California on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. In fact, the search company all-but confirmed the existence of a new Pixel with a very thinly-disguised teaser page launched last week.
Ahead of the announcement, we've seen a number of leaks around the new handsets, which will purportedly be branded Google Pixel 3a and Google Pixel 3a XL. Based on what we've seen so far, it looks like Google plans to offer the new devices at a competitive mid-range price point, with mid-range specs.
However, there is one area that won't be compromised in order to achieve that more affordable price tag – the rear camera.
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That's incredibly important. After all, Google has achieved enormous success with its Pixel smartphone brand, which is still only in its third hardware iteration, thanks to the performance of its camera. Each year, the Pixel is always the benchmark when measuring the performance of other flagship smartphones.
Google has pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with computational photography – offering the same adjustable, artificial bokeh-filled portraits shots that rival manufacturers offer on handsets with a dual-camera system using just a single lens. Features like Night Sight, announced last October during its annual Made By Google event, pushed other firms to add a designated low-light mode to their camera apps, something Samsung is still rushing to sort for its Galaxy S10 range
According to a new report from technology blog DroidLife, despite the mid-range price point of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, we should "expect an 'extraordinary' camera with Google’s Night Sight on board, the same as the fabulous Night Sight found on the regular Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL" as well as portrait mode photos, Motion Auto Focus, and unlimited Google Photos storage.
These are some of the biggest selling points of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which retail at £739 ($799) and £869 ($899), respectively. According to sources speaking to DroidLife, the more affordable Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will retail at $399 and $479. That works out at roughly £310 and £370, based on the current exchange rate.
However, as we can see from the US and UK pricing for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL above, that's not exactly how Google works out its transatlantic price conversations. But even if Google decides to keep the same numerical value and literally just swaps the $ for a £ sign, it'll still be a substantial saving over the Pixel 3 and 3 XL for the same camera features.
Elsewhere, the latest whispers point to Pixel 3a sporting a 5.6-inch display (compared to 5.5-inch on the Pixel 3), while the Pixel 3a XL will have a 6-inch display (compared to 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL). Both Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are widely-tipped to have a similar industrial design to the Pixel 3, with curved bezels around the top and bottom of the front display, ditching the controversial, chunky notch seen on the Pixel 3 XL that was mocked by rival Samsung.
DroidLife claims Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will have 12.2MP Dual Pixel rear-cameras, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, 8MP selfie cameras, 3,000mAh (3a) and 3,700mAh (3a XL) battery cells, and circular rear-mounted fingerprint scanners. The squeezable "Active Edge" technology, which summons Google Assistant by firmly gripping the sides of the phone, will seemingly be returning on the more affordable variant too.
According to prominent tipster @Samsung_News_, the Pixel 3a series will be available in three finishes, just like the Pixel 3 before it. These will be Clearly White, Just Black and Purple-ish.
Google Pixel 3a:— Max J. (@Samsung_News_) 1 mai 2019
5,6" 2220x1080p FHD+
3000mAh (18W Fast Charging)
"Just Black", "Clearly White", "Purple-ish'
(Picture credit @OnLeaks x @91mobiles https://t.co/bASLDAOjab )
[Tweet 1/2] pic.twitter.com/EKMez8DLX8
The latter will be exclusive to the range. As you'd expect with any Google-made hardware, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will purportedly run the latest version of Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. Earlier whispers point to the handsets being powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 system-on-a-chip. There will be an eSIM fitted into both handsets too.
Sources claim the Pixel 3a series will support fast-charging via USB-C, like their pricier siblings. Despite the reliability of the tipsters who have shared information on the Pixel 3a range, it's still worth taking all of this information with a pinch of salt. After all, it's possible Google is still making decisions around some of these features and specs.
Nothing is confirmed until it's announced on-stage at Google IO on May 7, 2019.