Google Pixel 3a Review: The Most Powerful Camera Phone at the Mid-Range Price

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As everyone knows, Google is not a hardware manufacturer in the traditional sense, but he also very much hopes to share a piece of the hardware business. After the I/O conference last night, Google hardware business executive Rick Osterloh said in an interview:

It is no secret that the hardware business can be done only if the mobile phone business is made bigger.
As for how to make the mobile phone business bigger, Google’s answer this time is to further expand the market by launching the mid-end price of the first mid-range Pixel 3a series.

So what is the performance of the Pixel family’s first mid-range machine starting at $399? We took it on for the first time. If you first say the conclusion, Pixel 3a should have the strongest camera power in the mid-range price. (In advance, since Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL differ only in screen size and battery size, the following is a general introduction to Pixel 3a.)

Design & Appearance

The design of the front wide forehead and long chin makes the Pixel 3a look more like a product three or four years ago. Although some users prefer a regular screen compared to a profiled screen, Pixel 3a does not have any modified face, compared to the Meizu 16s, which also does not use a profiled screen. The middle-aged greasy man with a shiny face and unshaven hair has no sense of exquisiteness.

As for the back of the fuselage, it looks like the Pixel 3, and it also uses the double-figure design of the matte and glossy surface. The same back fingerprint recognition, the positioning layout of the camera, flash and logo are almost the same.

The only difference is the material. The back of the Pixel 3a is not glass, but polycarbonate, which is plastic. Although it is plastic, the overall feel of Pixel 3a is quite solid, and there is no such sensation of cheap plastics. It gives people a feeling like the iPhone 5c.

The Pixel 3a’s screen uses a 5.6-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2220*1080. The larger XL has a larger screen, 6.0 inches, but the resolution is only 2160*1080. The screen materials of the two new models are all OLED, but the current mainstream screen technology like HDR 10 is not necessary. However, the actual look and feel of the Pixel 3a screen are not bad, there is no color cast, the display is quite transparent, and it can be clearly seen under strong light.

However, it is worth mentioning that the provider of this screen glass is not well-known Corning, but from a Japanese manufacturer AGC, as to whether the toughness of this glass is comparable to that of gorillas, remains to be seen.

Performance

The Pixel 3a is powered by the Opteron 670 mobile platform released last August with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage. The performance is naturally weaker than the Pixel 3 with the Opteron 845 and the mid-end models on the market with other mid-range 7-series SoCs. However, the experience has not reached an unacceptable level.

Because if you don’t compare, the Snapdragon 670 can still handle very well whether it is the fluency of the system, the response time, and the speed of loading the application. However, if compared with the flagship SoC, the gap is still visible to the naked eye.

In addition, the compromise in performance is also reflected in the image processing mentioned above. If you take a photo on Pixel 3, the system is already doing a lot of post-work for you, such as multi-frame synthesis, but because these tasks are done very quickly, you are not aware of it.

However, since Pixel 3a does not include the chip dedicated to processing images, if you look at the photo album immediately after taking the photo, what you see is not the processed photo. And when you go to the album every few seconds, you will see the finished product.

Cameras

Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 have almost no difference in camera parameters: the front is 800 pixels, the rear is 12.2 Megapixels, and the aperture size is f/1.8. The only difference in camera hardware is that Pixel 3a is not equipped with Google’s custom Pixel Visual Core chip.

The eight-core processing unit jointly developed by Google and Intel is mainly used to accelerate AI-related camera tasks. As for the lack of this chip, has a big impact on Pixel 3a? It doesn’t seem too big, it’s that camera startup and photo processing is slower. In terms of image quality, it’s almost impossible to find the difference between it and Pixel 3.

In daytime imaging, the Pixel 3a is rich in detail, the exposure is correct, the white balance is essentially free of any drift, and the color is slightly cooler than the Pixel 3, which is generally at a level with the Pixel 3. Pixel 3a to get started: the most powerful camera phone at the mid-range price, no one

In the portrait mode, since there is no double shot for recording the depth of field information, blurring in the portrait mode is not particularly precise. And in the proofs of people and cats together, we can also see that people’s blur will be more precise than cats. However, these are the same as Pixel 3 and can be gradually optimized through continuous shooting and AI learning. 

More importantly, camera functions like HDR+, Night Sight, Top Shot, Super Res Zoom on Pixel 3 are all retained on Pixel 3a. This means that on Pixel 3a you can also turn on the Super Night Scene mode to get Pixel’s signature nighttime imaging.

However, since the front is not equipped with a wide-angle lens, the Group Selfie Cam on the Pixel 3 that can capture more than a dozen people on the Pixel 3 is gone on the Pixel 3a.

From the initial experience, Pixel 3a’s camera strength is basically the same as that of Pixel 3, and it has the same level of strength as today’s flagship mobile phone. So there is no doubt that Pixel 3a will be one of the strongest phones you can buy at the mid-range price. The evaluation given by foreign media is even better than the one-shot, but the iPhone XR, which sells much higher, is even better. Even if it’s magical like Google, it’s impossible to open your window without shutting you down, especially at a limited cost.

Battery

Finally, the Pixel 3a is not waterproof, has no stereo speakers, and no wireless charging, but the 18W fast charge is still there, and even the battery is slightly higher than the Pixel 3. That’s right, the Pixel 3a retains the headphone jack and is located on the top of the phone.

It is different from the middle-end strategy of making a bucket machine for most of the market. Pixel 3a is an unbiased student. Although the photo has a leapfrog performance, in many ways Pixel 3a has compromised compared to the older brother Pixel 3. And these compromises are, to some extent, the gap between Pixel 3a and mainstream midrange machines. If you’re welcome, Pixel 3a is a bit like a camera to send a mobile phone.

Verdict & Buy

The essence of Google is still not a hardware company, which can be said to be reflected in the introduction of AI and Pixel 3a at the I/O conference last night. For the use and polishing of hardware, Pixel 3a still has a certain gap with the main mainstream level. But Google never needs too much hardware stacking, and only through software optimization, algorithms can make up for these defects, and even bring a better experience.

However, it is precisely because of this that Google can low-cost the original killer experience on the flagship product to the mid-end products, and through this point to seize the already fierce mid-market.

So if you want to make a purchase decision, if you have a request for a photo, if you want to buy a mid-range machine or add a spare machine, Pixel 3a is the best choice, no one. But if you don’t have high requirements for taking pictures, other machines on the market at the same price will give you a better experience in many other ways.

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