Here's how Google's new $400 Pixel 3a compares to the more expensive Pixel 3

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3, left, and the Pixel 3a, right.
  • Google announced its new Pixel 3a smartphones on Tuesday during the Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California.
  • The new Pixel 3a phones are essentially pared-down versions of Google’s flagship Pixel 3 lineup.
  • Both lineups share some important similarities, but the Pixel 3a doesn’t have everything the Pixel 3 does.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google announced its cheaper versions of the flagship Pixel 3 phones on Tuesday during the company’s Google I/O developers conference.

The new devices are called the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL, and in many important ways, both the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 lineup are quite similar.

All in all, you can think of the Pixel 3a lineup as a pared-down and more affordable version of the flagship Pixel 3 lineup, which might be tempting for those looking for the Google experience without shelling out the typical flagship price tag.

Check out what the Pixel 3a has and doesn’t have compared to the Pixel 3:


First and foremost, the price tags

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 XL (left) and the Pixel 3a XL (right).
  • The Pixel 3a will cost $US400, $US200 cheaper than Google’s current $US600 price tag for the Pixel 3.
  • The Pixel 3a XL will cost $US480, $US220 less than Google’s current $US700 price tag for the Pixel 3 XL.

Display size and resolution

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 (left), Pixel 3 XL (center), and Pixel 3a XL (right).

Pixel 3a:

  • 5.6-inch OLED display, slightly larger than the Pixel 3’s 5.5-inch OLED display.
  • Full HD (1080p resolution), same as the Pixel 3.

Pixel 3a XL:

  • 6-inch OLED display, smaller than the Pixel 3 XL’s OLED 6.3-inch display.
  • Full HD (1080p resolution), not quite as technically sharp as the Pixel 3 XL’s Quad HD (1440p resolution) display.

Battery size

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 (left), Pixel 3 XL (center), and Pixel 3a XL (right).

Pixel 3a:

  • 3,000mAh battery, slightly larger than the 2,915mAh battery in the Pixel 3.

Pixel 3a XL:

  • 3,700mAh battery, larger than 3,430mAh battery in the Pixel 3 XL.

Camera features

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 XL camera (left) and the Pixel 3a XL camera (right).

Both Google’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 series smartphones have 12-megapixel rear cameras and they have the same features, too. That makes the Pixel 3a incredibly tempting – you’d get a flagship-quality camera on a smartphone that starts at $US400.

Google is also introducing some new camera features with the Pixel 3a that will also be available on the Pixel 3 phones.

That means the Pixel 3a has the Pixel 3’s:

  • Night Sight
  • Top Shot – takes a series of photos when you press the shutter button and recommends the best one
  • Video stabilisation
  • Playground – lets you add AR Playmoji animations into photos and videos
  • Motion Auto Focus – lets you tap a subject on the screen and tracks them to keep them in focus
  • Super Res Zoom – uses Google’s AI to enhance the quality of zoomed photos
  • Time Lapse videos – a new feature that’s being introduced with the Pixel 3a
  • RAW photos option – a new feature that’s being introduced with the Pixel 3a for those who want to do some more serious photo editing.

Selfie cameras

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 XL (left) and the Pixel 3a XL (right).

The Pixel 3a phones have a single 8-megapixel selfie camera, while the Pixel 3 phones have dual selfie camera systems. That means the Pixel 3a doesn’t have a dedicated ultra-wide selfie camera.

With that said, the single selfie camera on the Pixel 3a offers some middle ground between the standard selfie camera and the ultra-wide selfie cameras in the Pixel 3:

  • The Pixel 3a selfie camera has 84-degree field of view, which is wider than the Pixel 3’s selfie camera with a 75-degree field of view.
  • The Pixel 3a’s camera’s field of view isn’t as wide as the ultra-wide 97-degree selfie camera on the Pixel 3.

You also get Photobooth mode that lets you take a selfie by smiling. Google is introducing the ability to snap a selfie with a kiss in the Pixel 3a.


Design — front

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 (left) and the Pixel 3a XL (right).

Both the Pixel 3a models basically look like the standard Pixel 3 phone.

That’s to say they have sizable bezels above and below the display, and neither the Pixel 3a or 3a XL feature the notch from the Pixel 3 XL.


Design — back

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3 (left), Pixel 3 XL (center), and Pixel 3a XL (right).

The Pixel 3a phones look nearly identical to the Pixel 3 phones on the back. There’s the same glossy section at the top, and the rest has a frosted texture.

The main difference is that the Pixel 3a phones are made of plastic compared to the metal and glass on the Pixel 3 phones. With that said, the plastic build on the Pixel 3a phones doesn’t look or feel that much different to the Pixel 3 phones.


Performance — chips and specs

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3a XL.

The Pixel 3a phones run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670 chips, which are said to have comparable performance to the chip running flagship phones from 2017 – the Snapdragon 835.

Google’s Pixel 3 phones run on the Snapdragon 845 that powered flagship devices in 2018, which is undoubtedly more powerful than Snapdragon 670 in the Pixel 3a phones.

Still, the Snapdragon 670 is no slouch and should offer solid performance.

Both Google’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 phones come with 4GB of RAM.

As for storage, the Pixel 3a phones only come in a 64 GB option. You get more choice with Google’s Pixel 3 phones, ranging from 64 GB to 128 GB.


The Pixel 3a has something the Pixel 3 doesn’t: a headphone jack.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Pixel 3a XL with a headphone jack (left) and the Pixel 3 XL without a headphone jack (right).

There are a few things from the Pixel 3 phones that Google didn’t include in the Pixel 3a. But Google has graced the Pixel 3a phones with a headphone jack.

You can still use wired headphones with the Pixel 3 phones with the included USB-C dongle adaptor, but that’s not as ideal as a dedicated headphone jack.

One thing about the headphone jack on the Pixel 3a phones: it’s found at the top of the phones, which is a questionable design choice, in my opinion. Over the years, I’ve found that the best place for a headphone jack is usually at the bottom of a phone. Either way, I’m not going to complain too much, as I’m happy to see a headphone jack at all, which is becoming more and more precious as fewer and fewer phones start to ditch them.


Other little bits and pieces.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe bottom of the The Pixel 3a XL (left) and the Pixel 3 XL (right).
  • The Pixel 3a doesn’t support wireless charging like the Pixel 3 does, which means no support for Google’s Pixel Stand.
  • The Pixel 3a isn’t IP rated for water resistance like the Pixel 3 is.
  • The Pixel 3a comes with Google’s Call Screen feature that lets Google Assistant pick up and handle a call if you suspect that it’s a spam call.
  • The Pixel 3a phones come with Google’s Active Edge feature that lets you squeeze the edges of the phone to summon Google Assistant, which also featured in the Pixel 3 phones.
  • The Pixel 3a comes with the same 18W fast charger as the Pixel 3.
  • The Pixel 3a has stereo speakers, like the Pixel 3 phones.

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