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Google Pixel 3a phone (Photo: AFP)
Google Pixel 3a phone (Photo: AFP)

Google Pixel 3a review: Where do you go from here?

  • Google Pixel 3a smartphone is priced at 39,999 in India
  • It has a great camera, promises updates and… that’s that

After making Pixel smartphones for three years, Google wants to widen its range. But while the company is making a cheaper variant, it’s rather guarded in its approach.

The Pixel 3a is an “entry-premium" segment smartphone, and Google seems to be categorically avoiding the word budget here. It’s clear that the company doesn’t want to go up against the Xiaomis of the world, sticking instead to the premium ranges. Somehow, though, Google’s approach to this seems rather budget-like, albeit still extremely Google.

But before we get to whether the Pixel 3a is worth buying and all that, let’s discuss a conundrum it poses for Google itself.

Why buy a Pixel 3 anymore?

With the Pixel 2 and 3, the company made a big deal out of the Visual Core chip inside the device. The chip, we were told, is one of the key elements behind Google’s wondrous camera. In fact, Google even said it couldn’t bring the Pixel 3’s “Top Shots" feature to the original Pixel because it didn’t have this chip.

However, with the Pixel 3a, Google says it has learned enough about photos and imaging to put all its AI camera algorithms on device. Even without the Visual Core, the phone provides near identical images to the older Pixel 3. Personally, I believe, I can see a difference in particularly tricky low lit conditions (like in a dimly-lit party), but the differences are minute.

Which brings us to the question, if we can get the Pixel 3a for a price of Rs. 39,999, does it even make sense to spend on the older, more expensive Pixel 3 anymore? Since the Pixel 3a follows the same blueprint that the Pixel 3 did, is it possible that this year’s Pixel 4 will be much more differentiated?

Sure, the 3 has a faster processor and unlimited full-quality photo storage on Google Photos (the 3a only allows unlimited “high quality" storage), but is that enough to spend about 40% more?

You could also argue that the Pixel 3a’s polycarbonate design is a step down, but here again, the difference is barely noticeable. Credit to Google? Sure, but…

Should you buy the Pixel 3a?

From the above, you’re probably thinking that the Pixel 3a is a device I would recommend. And I would, had it not been 2019, and had it not been the Indian market.

Granted, it’s a great phone. Actually, it’s a GREAT phone, but with the OnePlus 7 on the way, new phones incoming from value brands like Honor, Samsung’s recent push with its A series devices etc. the Pixel 3a finds itself in no man’s land (no phone’s land, if bad puns are your thing).

It has a great camera, promises updates and… that’s that. Alongside, you will soon hear about phones that have better displays, faster processors, more gimmicks and possibly cheaper price tags. It’s a hard sell, this one.

The Pixel 3a is above all a smartphone that does the job, and clicks positively stellar images. Sadly, it’s a device that makes a case for itself in the US. In India, it’s yet another smartphone that can’t justify its price.

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