Not so recently, Google introduced mid-range Pixel phones to make its own Android vision more accessible to masses as is. The new Pixel 3a phones aren’t exactly affordable in India, but they still make a compelling case for the mid-range. (Google Pixel 3a XL Review हिंदी में पढ़िए)

On paper, they are outclassed by better-specced phones like OnePlus 7 (Review) or Asus 6Z (Review), but as is the case with Pixels – it’s mainly about the unmatched, unique experience. 

So we have been living with the Pixel 3a XL as our primary phone for a while, and by now we have a good idea of what the mid-range Pixel phones are all about, what makes them tick, and who are they for. Let’s elaborate further in our Pixel 3a XL review. 

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Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL Price in India and Specs

Phone name Pixel 3A Pixel 3A XL
Display 5.6-inch, 18:9, AMOLED Full HD+ 6.0-inch, 18:9, AMOLED Full HD+
Processor 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
Battery 3000mAh 3700mAh
Software Android Pie Android Pie
Storage 64GB 64GB
RAM 4GB 4GB
Rear camera 12.2MP, f/1.8 12.2MP, f/1.8
Front camera 8MP, f/2.0 8MP, f/2.0
Dimensions & weight 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm; 147 grams 160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2 mm; 167 grams
Price Rs. 39,999 Rs. 44,999

 

Google Pixel 3a XL Review: Design and Build

When it comes to design, the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t play by the book. In a sea of glass-metal body phone, this pixel unabashedly flaunts a plastic body and, surprisingly, carries it off really well. It’s not a truly premium phone, but it doesn’t feel cheap by any means. 

The signature two-tone back panel adds a dash of personality and helps the 3a XL stand out, and the gorgeous AMOLED display uplifts the fascia. 

The lack of a notch and beefy bezels at the top and bottom might have felt regressive up to about a few months back, but now that we have recently cycled through quite a few true full-screen phones like OnePlus 7 Pro and Asus 6Z, we’d really rather have the top bezel and an uninterrupted status bar than a distracting notch or a punch hole. 

Even with a sizeable forehead and chin, the Pixel 3a XL is lighter and relatively compact than most other recommendable phones available in the same budget. And this makes a huge difference.  

And yes, you can squeeze the handset to summon Google Assistant (active edge). You can adjust the sensitivity to squeezes as well. We have been using the phone at maximum sensitivity and haven’t triggered the assistant accidentally even once. 

The Ashai dragon trail glass on the front is a bit more susceptible to picking scratches than Gorilla glass on high-end pixels, and the plastic side frame doesn’t enthuse much confidence either. So, you will need to protect this in a case and Google doesn’t bundle one in the box.  

Google Pixel 3a XL Review: Display Quality

We are glad that Google isn’t skimping on the screen to accommodate the lower price tag. The 6.0-inch screen on the Pixel 3a XL is full-HD sharp and a very well-calibrated panel. You can choose between three color profiles – Natural, Boosted, and adaptive. The Natural is relatively color accurate and maps sRGB gamut. The Adaptive profile targets DCI-P3 gamut and is what most common folks would prefer. 

The sunlight legibility is perfectly fine and the display isn’t harsh on eyes indoors. There is no option for DC Dimming and like all AMOLED screen phones, Pixel 3a XL uses PWM for dimming brightness which can be a problem for people who are sensitive to PMW flicker. 

The software adds an option for dark theme and Pixel 3a XL also has a very useful Always-on display that’s smart enough to detect and displays the song that is playing nearby. 

Google Pixel 3a XL Review: Performance and software

The Pixel 3a XL is powered by the mid-range Snapdragon 670 octa-core chipset (2 x 2.0 GHz Kryo 360 Gold + 6 x 1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver) but the day-to-day usage experience has that flawlessness that we have come to expect only of top-shelf premium phones. This was really unexpected and is once again a testimony to Google’s software wizardry. 

The same can’t be said for demanding usage or gaming applications, though. PUBG, for instance, is playable at high and HD settings, but doesn’t run smoothly at all at maximum settings. Long story short, the gaming performance can’t match up to Snapdragon 855 phones, many of which are now available in the same budget. And for everything else, the SD 670 on the Pixel 3a XL should suffice. 

The software experience is another strong reason for why many would consider buying the 3a XL. The handset runs the latest Android software and will continue doing so for the next couple of years (at least).

More important than the stock Android and its latest version is the fact that everything Android works as it should. To spice things up, Google also throws in several Pixel-specific clever features in the mix that are scattered through the OS. 

Even if you aren’t passionate about unadulterated Android or about priority access to new version updates, the software is still among the finest available as of today.

Having said that, If you are used to more customizable interfaces, stock Android can feel crippling at times. For instance, I had to rely on third-party apps for call recording and the Photos app, though indispensable, is far from ideal as a gallery app for people like me who have their accounts on multiple phones. But yes, there are ways you can work around these limitations.

The Pixel 3a XL has both an eSIM and a SIM slot, but it’s essentially a Single SIM phone. The Android Q Beta 2 momentarily activated dual SIM support, but the same was revoked in the subsequent Beta updates. For someone who is used to two SIM cards, this is a major peeve point. 

All latest set of connectivity options have made the cut. For whoever’s asking, the Pixel 3a XL also supports HD streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. There is no Face Unlock, but the rear fingerprint sensor is extremely fast. The call quality was excellent in our area. 

Google Pixel 3a XL Camera performance

The camera on the Pixel 3a XL is just wow. Even when it’s not perfect, its widely deemed as the best camera on phones there is, and for good reason. Google uses the same rear camera and same photo processing as on Pixel 3. The 3a is, however, missing the visual core and as a result, image processing takes an extra second. 

In daylight, Pixel 3a XL shoots well-metered shots particularly refrains from underexposing image subjects. This sometimes leads to lesser details in shadow regions. 

The dynamic range is shots clicked outdoors is awesome. The shutter speed is also remarkably fast and that helps. A lot. 

In low light and in dark scenes, the Pixel 3a XL again churns out fabulous results. You may also use night sight to further enhance and brighten dark scenes or shots with light sources. 

And yes, no one does portraits better than Google.

The camera app also has other interesting options including Photosphere and Playground that work really well.

The camera alone is reason enough for consumers to consider Pixel 3a XL as their next phone. With Pixel 3a XL we could consistently manage great shots by putting in minimal effort, and you can’t praise that enough. It just beats all other available options around.  

Google Pixel 3a XL Review – Battery and Audio

The 3750 mAh battery on the Pixel 3a XL can comfortably last for a day, even on particularly heavy usage days. We were using the Pixel 3a XL on an outstation trip (which is veritably the ultimate battery test) where our daily usage involved hours of GPS navigation, browsing on 4G data, and shooting images and videos. The backup was surprisingly manageable. 

The handset also supports fast charging and even with regular 2A power banks the battery charges real quick. There is no wireless charging, but that isn’t something that particularly bothers us. 

The stereo speakers on the Pixel 3A XL can get really loud,  loud enough to emerge beyond the raucous made by a dessert cooler or a ceiling fan – if you know what I mean. The quality is a bit distorted at maximum volume, but the audio output is certainly above average and very pleasing. Unlike the Pixel 3 phones, the 3a phones get the audio jack, and audio output via headphone is pretty awesome. 

Google also bundles a pair of basic headphones in the box, but they are just average in terms of quality. 

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t offer unlimited full-size photo backup to google drive on the 3a series phones. That luxury is still exclusive to flagship Pixels. 

Also Read: Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro Review – Would Have Been A Perfect Poco F2

Google Pixel 3a XL Review – Verdict

It’s the tiny bits and an excellent camera that make Google Pixel 3a XL a great phone. The charm lies in the simplicity of the experience and the fact that everything works as it should. The longer we have lived with the phone, the more we have come to appreciate the efforts Google has put in and more the handset has grown on us. 

The software is perfectly optimized, you get priority access to everything Google, the battery mileage is decent, the handset has stereo speakers and retains the audio jack, the handset is slimmer and lighter than its main competitors, and Google isn’t skimping on the notch-free AMOLED display. 

On the downside, the Snapdragon 670 isn’t as snappy as the 800-series chips that you can easily score for the same (or lower) budget and due to import duties, the India price of Rs. 44,999 is unjustifiably steep and very close to what you’d pay for a Pixel 3 in an advantageous sale. 

If you particularly value any of the exclusive Pixel strengths, you may consider the Pixel 3a XL as your next option. But I guess it would work better if you can source it from international markets where it’s significantly cheaper.

Pros 

  • Excellent camera performance
  • Pleasant notch-less display
  • One of the few light phones around
  • Decent Battery mileage 
  • Excellent software 
  • Stereo speakers and audio jack

Cons 

  • Not for gaming 
  • No dual SIM support
  • After sales support network in India needs improvements
  • India price is steep

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