Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 3a series: Differences Explained
Google has just announced two new smartphones, the Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL at its three-day long annual developer conference, Google I/O in Mountain View California. For the most part, both the smartphones are similarly specced, except for the difference in screen size and battery capacity. And not to mention, the price tag, with the Pixel 3a priced at Rs 39,999 and the bigger sibling, the Pixel 3a XL at Rs 44,999.
With the last year’s model, the Pixel 3/3 XL, available for purchase on Amazon and Flipkart, a lot of people are both confused and interested in the new devices. So to make things simpler and help you make an informed decision, here’s an in-depth comparison between the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3a.
Google Pixel 3/3 XL vs Google Pixel 3a/3a XL
Design and Display
In terms of design, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a take a different approach altogether, with a polycarbonate unibody design on the Pixel 3a, instead of an aluminum frame + hybrid coating design on the Pixel 3. Similarly, the display also gets a few changes when compared to the last year’s devices Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL which come with a 5.5-inch FHD+ flexible OLED and 6.3-inch QHD+ OLED displays respectively. Whereas, the newer Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL feature a comparatively smaller 5.6-inch and 6.0-inch FHD+ OLED panels, which are similar in the display technology but differ the display size. In addition to the change in display type and size, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a also differ in the additional layer of protection provided on top of the display, as with the Pixel 3, the displays come with a Gorilla Glass protection on top, whereas, the newer Pixel 3a comes with Dragontail protection to provide a certain level of protection to the display.
Apart from these changes, the Pixel 3a comes with the same always-on display and now playing options found on Pixel 3. However, it does lack the HDR support present on the Pixel 3 displays. Additionally, Google has also taken away the IP68 certification and one of the color options on the Pixel 3a. While the Pixel 3 which comes in three colors: Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink, the Pixel 3a comes in Just Black, Clearly White and Purpl-ish, missing out on the Not Pink color.
Performance and Hardware
One of the few things that have been at the core of Google’s effort over the years, dating back to the Nexus lineup, has to be the performance. Comparing the Pixel 3a to last year’s Pixel 3 presents with a change in the brains of the device, the processor. With Pixel 3/3XL, Google went with a Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.5 GHz + 1.6 GHz) along with Adreno 630 GPU and Titan M security module. Whereas, with the Pixel 3a/3a XL, the company has stepped down on the chipset and opted for a cheaper, mid-range Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor (2.0GHz + 1.7GHz) with Adreno 615 and Titan M Security Module.
For storage and RAM, Google has only introduced one internal storage variant with the Pixel 3a. Compared to Pixel 3, which has two internal storage variants: 64 GB and 128 GB, the Pixel 3a only comes with the 64GB variant. Whereas, for the RAM, both devices share the same 4GB LPDDR4x RAM.
In terms of battery, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a 2915mAh and 3430mAh battery respectively with 18W fast charging and Qi wireless charging support. Whereas, the newer Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL come with a 3000mAh and 3700mAh battery with 18W fast charging, and no support for wireless charging.
For the last year or two, Pixel cameras have been the standard when it came to camera comparison. Be it, smartphone manufacturers or reviewers, we’ve seen everyone comparing the claimed ‘flagship smartphone’ camera with the one on Pixel. And now, it’s time for a head-to-head comparison among two of the Pixel devices, the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3a. The last year’s model, Pixel 3/3 XL comes with a 12.2MP dual-pixel camera on the rear with an f/1.8 aperture, 76° field of view, OIS + EIS, autofocus + dual pixel phase detection, and spectral + flicker sensor. On the other hand, the Pixel 3a/3a XL sports a 12.2MP dual-pixel camera on the rear, with Sony IMX363 sensor, autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, OIS + EIS, and 76° field of view.
Coming to the front-facing camera, the Pixel 3 has 8 MP wide-angle (f/2.2 aperture and 107° field of view) and telephoto (f/1.8 aperture and 75° field of view) cameras. Whereas, the one found on the Pixel 3a is an 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture, 84° field of view, and fixed focus.
Video capabilities on both the devices remains the same, with 4K @ 30fps, 720p @ 30fps, 60fps, and 240fps, and 1080p @ 30fps, 60fps, and 120fps with the rear camera. And 480p @ 30fps, 720p @ 30fps, and 1080p @ 30fps with the front-facing camera.
Apart from the major deterrents like the processor, RAM + internal storage configuration, battery, and camera, most of the other specifications like GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, Galileo, NFC, Google Cast etc are similar on both the devices. However, one noticeable difference between Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a is with the connectivity. The Pixel 3 comes with USB Type-C 3.1, whereas, the new Pixel 3a has USB-C with USB-PD 2.0. In addition to that, the Pixel 3a also gets a 3.5mm audio jack which is missing on the Pixel 3. So users can now enjoy music on their favorite pair of headphones on the Pixel 3a.
The most important aspects, a disincentive one, when deciding to buy a smartphone or upgrading to a newer model, is the price. For the sake of a fair comparison, we will only be considering the price of the 64GB variant of the Pixel 3/3XL smartphone.
At the time of writing this article, the Pixel 3/3XL 64GB variant can be bought for around Rs 56,000 and Rs 59,000 respectively on both Amazon and Flipkart. On the other hand, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are priced at Rs 39,999 and Rs 44,999 respectively. Taking into consideration what the newer models have to offer in this price bracket, one can easily opt for the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a (if they want a bigger screen and bigger battery), for that matter. Currently, this price bracket is being ruled by OnePlus devices for the past few years, which offer a lot for a way less price. And with their upcoming smartphones, OnePlus 7/7 Pro, the competition is expected to get much fierce.