Pixel 3a – Hit or Miss?

So Google launches an affordable, mid-range handset. Is it as good as hoped for by Android enthusiasts? Against my better judgement, I purchased one a day after launch, so how did I get on?

If you are not familiar with my musings, I do not usually by my tech new as I usually opt for second-hand tech to keep the price down. However, I have made an exception in this case due to two reasons.

Firstly I have been an admirer of Google’s Pixel line up for a while however would never pay the prices, (and even second-hand prices are off the charts).

Secondly, after using an iPhone for 6 months I missed Android (and the Google own brand having been a Nexus 5x owner).

So let’s dive in.

Build & Screen Quality

This has been negative when compared to its more expensive brother. It has a polycarbonate back as opposed to glass but in all honesty, who doesn’t put their phone in a case? Therefore, you wouldn’t actually know! As an aside, I purchased the official Google case which fits the phone well, as you would expect, but also still allows for the squeeze gesture to bring up the Assistant.

Seems really well made with no creaks (or bending – Apple I am looking at you!).

The fingerprint sensor on the back is the best placement – far better than the front placement found on other phones. It is very good and has rarely failed to work for me. You can also control viewing your notifications by sliding your finger on the sensor.

Battery life seems to be good but I really need some more time with the phone to confirm this.

The screen is gorgeous (as to be fair are most screens these days on modern phones) with deep blacks and great colour gamut. Viewing angles are wide and although this is not the same premium Gorilla glass found in its big brother it is difficult to tell the difference.

You certainly will not feel that this is not a premium phone.

Camera

Wow! The reviews of the Pixel 3 and 3XL has extolled the virtue of the camera and even though this is the cheaper version virtually all of the capability has been transferred. It shows.

The images this thing captures is nothing short of stunning. Night sight is tremendous. I find it difficult to believe there is a better phone camera on the market.

IMG_20190522_115034_293

Software

Running pure Android is one of the main selling features of the Pixel line. It does make the experience something better than a phone with a skin layer over the top. I have not encountered any lag or stuttering. Switching between Apps is a fluid experience, however, there has been one flaw I have found. When replying to a WhatsApp message from a notification it tends to crash the phone. I’m not sure if this is an App issue or a Pixel issue but it’s worth noting.

With guaranteed security updates and the first to receive OS updates it makes the Pixel 3A a compelling purchase.

For those of you that are migrating over from a Windows mobile Android certainly gives you the best of emulating that OS. I have tried Launcher 10 and it gives you the best experience of live tiles on Android, however, I have the official Microsoft Launcher as my preference, due in the main, to those brilliant Bing images which are refreshed daily. As I am currently experimenting with Microsoft apps and services this makes sense to use an integrated launcher.

This also vindicates my decision to move back to Android as with an iPhone this level of personalisation is not possible currently and even when iOS13 is released there is no indication of a change from Apple in this regard.

Conclusion

If you are deeply integrated into the Google world or are a Microsoft Windows Mobile fan then look no further than the Pixel 3a. Clean, unfussy lines, excellent camera and an OS in its purest form make this the mid-range handset to beat.

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