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The Google Pixel 3a may be a lot more affordable than the standard Pixel 3, but that doesn’t mean it makes many compromises – it has as many upgrades, or retained features, as it does downgrades.
Admittedly, the handset does feel a lot less like a premium phone, in terms of both its design and the materials used, and the slower user interface. But at such a low price point you can’t expect a cutting-edge device – and in fact, looking at the number of features that have been carried over from the Pixel 3, we’re surprised more compromises haven’t been made.
Rather than viewing the Pixel 3a primarily as a cut-price Google Pixel phone, by which standard you’d likely focus on the features that are missing, we’d argue that it’s more appropriate to compare it to other mid-range phones at around the same price point – and by that metric the Pixel 3a blows its competitors out of the water.
One knock-on effect of the phone could be that people are more reluctant to buy the upcoming Google Pixel 4, as if they know there's a 4a coming a few months later with a lower price and similar features they may be reluctant to splash out on the high-end phone – but we'll have to wait until that releases to find out for sure.
First reviewed: May 2019
After alternatives? Consider these three:
Honor View 20
The Honor View 20 has a competent chipset in the Kirin 980, and has a bigger screen and longer battery life than the Google Pixel 3a – if you want it though, you’re going to be paying a small amount extra, and you won’t be getting the Google Pixel 3a’s impressive camera performance.
Read our Honor View 20 review
The OnePlus 6T costs a little more than the Pixel 3a, but you’re getting a camera array that’s arguably good enough to rival that on Google’s affordable smartphone. You’re also getting specs that are equal to the Pixel 3a’s, while it’s a bit bigger, which could either be a pro or a con depending on how big you like your phones.
Read our OnePlus 6T review
Google Pixel 3
If money’s no object, you could consider buying the Google Pixel 3 instead of the Pixel 3a – it’s a step up in many ways, with the Pixel Visual Core chip and superior main processor giving the camera a performance boost, and the latter helping to deliver improved gaming performance, and a glass back lending the device a ‘premium’ feel.
Read our Google Pixel 3 review
Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.
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