Google’s Pixel 3a has been getting a lot of headlines recently, partly due to the fact that the company included the same camera that in the device, which it also uses in its much expensive offerings. Of course, this is without the visual core chip but that does not impact the camera performance much. But other than that, there isn’t much to the Pixel 3a that makes it rise above competitors, specially in its price range, for it to be titled a ‘junior flagship‘.
In 2019, Google’s Pixel 3a is a phone which ships with an old design with thick bezels, coupled with a weak processor and average battery life. We live in the day and age where displays, performance and battery life are all getting better on mid-range phones from Samsung, Huawei, Nokia and Xiaomi so there is no reason that a phone like Pixel 3a should get a pass because it does only one thing well: still photography.
Almost every review has pointed out an obvious flaw with the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL – its performance. Not only does it offer a weaker Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, compared to other devices in the price range, it also has just 4GB RAM. It is also limited to just 64GB storage which is not expandable as there is no memory card slot.
Devices like Samsung A50 and Xiaomi Mi 9 SE ship with better performance, more RAM and higher capacity storage, which is expandable in most cases. They even have better features in other departments. For example, Samsung A50 has a gorgeous no-bezel 6.4” AMOLED display, which puts every other mid-range phone to shame, specially the Pixel 3a. In terms of cameras, most of these devices have multiple cameras, with telephoto or ultra-wide lenses. Pixel 3a only offers 1 lens so you have no option to capture different type of photos. All these devices also have better battery performance than Pixel 3a’s average battery life, as noted by many reviewers.
Here’s another surprising fact: most of these phones ship with headphones in the box, which Pixel 3a does not.
I’m only scratching the surface of what’s available in the market. The more you look, you would realize that there are simply better offerings in the mid-range. I haven’t even mentioned devices like Pocophone F1 here as they have flagship components at a much lower cost than Pixel 3a in many regions.
You must be thinking that a Pixel phone’s best feature is not just its camera, it is its ability to get updates before other phones. I agree, but that has not stopped the world from buying more phones from other manufacturers.
My point is simple: there are many devices out there that justify their position as junior flagships but Pixel 3a does not stand out to qualify as one of them. But if a great camera is your only priority at a low budget, Pixel 3a is the device you’d want, which might give you even better value than a Pixel 3.