Pixel 3A - No-nonsense smartphone

Google has been making its own smartphones in the Pixel line for years. Unfortunately, these were never officially released in the Netherlands. That changes with this Pixel 3A smartphone, which will also be available here. With this Pixel 3A, Google is betting on a good smartphone for a friendly price. Did that Google succeed?

Google Pixel 3A

Price € 399,-

€ 479 (Pixel 3A XL)

Colors Black and white

OS Android 9.0

Screen 5.6 inch OLED (2220 x 1080)

6 inch OLED (2160 x 1080)

Processor 2GHz octa-core (Snapdragon 670)


Storage 64GB

Battery 3,000 mAh

3,700 mAh

Camera 12 megapixel (rear), 8 megapixel (front)

Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC

Format 15.1 x 7 x 0.8cm

16 x 7.6 x 0.8 cm

Weight 147 grams

167 grams

Other 3.5mm jack

Website //store.google.com 8 Score 80

  • Pros
  • Price quality
  • Pure Android
  • Camera
  • Negatives
  • Low maximum screen brightness
  • Dated design
  • Little working memory

Google's Pixel smartphones haven't been very rewarding so far. Despite the fact that the Pixels are equipped with fantastic cameras and direct Android update support from Google itself, Google priced them out of the market a bit. Especially for those who buy a Pixel via more expensive gray imports. That changes with this Pixel 3A, which will not only (finally) be officially sold in the Netherlands, but also offers the same advantages mentioned above for a competitive price. The regular Pixel 3A costs 400 euros, the larger Pixel 3A XL version 480 euros. That's impressive, and I hope Google will turn the entire smartphone market upside down with this. Incidentally, at the time of writing, these prices do not yet apply to Dutch web shops, which have yet to import the device.

No nonsense

When you first get your hands on the Pixel 3A, you immediately notice how Google has cut back to make the smartphone more affordable. The Pixel 3A is made of plastic. That sounds negative, but it isn't. Almost all manufacturers switched from plastic housings to metal a few years ago, because plastic felt too cheap. However, metal housings and wireless charging do not go together, after which many manufacturers opted for a glass back. It made smartphones more vulnerable than ever, and that premium design is negated by greasy fingerprints and much-needed protective cases. That Google opts for plastic with this Pixel 3A is a welcome surprise. I dare to use my smartphone without a case again.

Another welcome change is the return of the headphone port. When the Google Pixel 2 was announced in 2017, Google made a fool of itself by copying Apple's decision to remove the headphone port, while mocking Apple's move when it launched the first Pixel smartphone. . The Pixel 3A sees the return of the headphone port again.

Trend break

But other trends are also ignored with the Pixel 3A. The smartphone has screen edges, a regular aspect ratio and a fingerprint scanner at the back. This may make the smartphone look a bit old-fashioned, but it does not detract from the practical experience. Difficult solutions such as pop-up cameras and screen notches for the front camera are not necessary and a fingerprint scanner at the rear is perhaps less pleasantly placed, the physical scanner still works much faster and more accurately than fingerprint scanners that are placed behind the screen.

This back-to-basics approach to the Pixel 3A smartphone is very welcome, and it shows the questionable choices the smartphone industry has made in recent years. Still, the Pixel 3A isn't completely free of gimmicks. For example, the smartphone has the squeeze functionality, which we also saw with the HTC U11 a few years ago. Heralded as the latest operating revolution, it proved to add little in practice. However, Google has managed to make the squeeze control even less functional. Unlike HTC's smartphone, you can only use the squeeze function to invoke the Google Assistant. You may not associate any other action with it, such as starting the camera. If you do not (often) use the assistant, which is not surprising given its limited Dutch functionality, you can only disable the squeeze control.

Pixel camera

So far, the Pixel 3A smartphone reminds me of the Nexus smartphones of yesteryear, these no-nonsense smartphones were also maintained by Google itself, with which they immediately received the new Android and security updates. The Nexus smartphones also jumped out, just like the Pixel 3A, thanks to a sharp price. Yet there is one asset that makes the Pixel 3A very interesting for every user: the camera. Which, like the more expensive Pixel smartphones, is impressively good.

It is striking that the Pixel 3A only has one camera on the back, while most smartphones nowadays are equipped with sometimes three or four cameras on the back. These extra lenses are used, for example, for depth determination, so that you can take portrait photos with a blurred background, for example, or for zoom functionality, by using wide-angle and macro lenses. However, Google has developed powerful software that can take impressively good photos with one lens. Even portrait photos with the single camera of the Pixel are not inferior to portrait photos from smartphones with two (or more) cameras. Advanced functionality, such as optical zoom, is unfortunately missing. This cannot be solved with software.

On the other hand, you do have a camera that shoots impressively good photos in all circumstances, putting all competitors in the same price range at a great distance. When the available amount of light becomes very limited, you can also rely on the night mode, which captures a lot more. Does the Pixel 3A take the very best photos? No, the Huawei P30 Pro manages to impress more, especially with its night mode.

Mid-range specifications

With a price tag of 400 and 480 euros, the Pixel 3A competes with the Xiaomi Mi 9, a device that is now the ultimate topper if you look at what you get for the price. The Pixel 3A does not have the modern features and powerful specs of Xiaomi. On the contrary: a Snapdragon 670, with 4GB of RAM, does not break any speed records. However, it is enough to make the smartphone work smoothly without hitches, which is perhaps mainly thanks to the clean version of Android 9.0, where no radical skin is attached to the chipset as a millstone. That is the case with the Xiaomi Mi 9, which Android takes several steps back in terms of functionality, redundant apps and stability with MIUI on Android.

However, the 4GB of RAM does worry me. That is very clever. Although it doesn't seem to matter much now in practice, it could cause problems with future Android versions, new apps or the avid multitasker. It is also a pity that the Pixel 3A does not have a memory card slot. That would not have been a superfluous luxury. The available 64GB is in principle sufficient, but it is not enough for those who store a lot of apps, playlists and photos.

The Pixel 3A is also equipped with a battery capacity of 3,000 mAh, the XL version has 3,700 mAh. The battery life is not very noticeable. The Pixel 3A will last a day with a charged battery, but the next day it really needs to be charged. However, we cannot say how long the battery of the XL version will last, because we had to test the regular 3A.


The display is also not the best in its price range. On paper, there is little to criticize about a full-HD OLED panel of 5.6 inches (or 6 inches with the Pixel 3A XL variant). The display quality is therefore fine. Despite this, I had some problems reading the screen in direct sunlight. That's because the maximum brightness the screen can produce isn't very high.

Android 9.0

The second advantage of the Pixel 3A is that the smartphone is supported by Google itself. That means that you are ahead of the curve with the rollout of new Android versions, such as Android Q in a moment. The same goes for security updates, which you receive directly on your Pixel smartphone. The support of the Pixel 3A should be two years, but longer is not inconceivable.

In addition, there is a clean Android version on the Pixel 3A: no unnecessary virus scanners, duplicate apps or advertising apps. Nevertheless, you are of course saddled with all Google services and Assistant by Google's Android.

Alternatives to the Pixel 3A

The Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL are by far the best smartphones you can buy in their price range. Even if your budget for a new smartphone is a bit higher and you are in the market for, for example, a OnePlus 7 or Galaxy S10e, it is really not that crazy to take a look at the Pixel 3A. However, those who are in the market for a smartphone with a more luxurious appearance, more powerful specifications and a better screen should consider other options. Like the aforementioned two smartphones, or the Xiaomi Mi 9 and Zenfone 6. However, you again make concessions on the price, clean Android and camera with these alternatives. If you are looking for a slightly cheaper smartphone than the Pixel 3A, you can consider the Motorola One Vision. Apart from the camera, this smartphone is fairly comparable to the Pixel 3A, thanks in part to the Android One software.

Conclusion: Buy Google Pixel 3A?

It's back to basics with the Pixel 3A. The smartphone has a good camera, good software and an amazing price-quality ratio. The disadvantage is that you have to make do with a somewhat old-fashioned-looking design and a somewhat disappointing screen brightness.

Thanks to Belsimpel.nl for making a review copy available.

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