- Google’s $479 Pixel 3a XL is one of the best budget Android phones you can buy.
- The Pixel 3a XL combines a great camera with an OLED screen and long battery life.
- After switching from the $1,099 iPhone XS Max to the $479 Pixel 3a XL, the cheaper phone held it’s own against Apple’s highest-end model.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Lisa: I have been using Apple’s iPhone XS Max in my day-to-day life, which costs more than a $1,000, but I recently switched to Google’s cheap new Pixel phone, which costs less than $500, and I was surprised at how little I missed.
All in all, the Pixel 3a was proof that you don’t need to pay $1,000 to get a really good smartphone that doesn’t compromise. The Pixel 3a delivers where it counts: on battery life, camera performance, day-to-day performance, and screen quality. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that you’ll get from a high-end smartphone like the iPhone XS Max. But, like I said, it performs where it counts.
So the thing that really stood out to me after having used both of these phones is really how little I missed when switching to a smartphone this cheap. So what’s interesting about the Pixel 3a XL is that it really maintains a lot of the really important features of a flagship smartphone. So most of the time in the past when I’ve used budget smartphones, you know, they usually get the job done, but they lack in a few areas. Especially, you know, camera performance is usually one of them.
One of the best things about the Pixel 3a is that it has an excellent camera, just like the more expensive Pixel 3. The Pixel 3a has a 12.2-megapixel camera that comes with the same features as Google’s more expensive phone. This includes Google’s Night Sight feature, which takes really good photos in low-light conditions. When I was out with a group of friends, I took a picture with both phones in a dim bar, and the difference was astronomical between the iPhone and Google’s Pixel phone. The photo I took in the bar was just so much brighter, and the colors were a lot richer, and it just captured more detail than I could have with Apple’s iPhone.
The iPhone XS Max has a 12-megapixel camera that’s also very good. When I used the two phones side by side, I noticed that they were both able to take bright, crisp, colorful photos. Although I did notice that the iPhone’s pictures were sometimes a bit brighter in daylight. But the Pixel’s photos took very, very sharp details, which was very impressive for a phone that’s this cheap.
Both phones also support portrait mode, although you’ll notice that Apple’s iPhone has two cameras on the back, whereas Google’s only has one. That’s because the iPhone uses two camera lenses to create that portrait-mode effect, whereas Google’s camera does it through software. Both phones are capable of taking really great pictures in portrait mode. The photo I took with Apple’s iPhone looks slightly more natural than Google’s, although the portrait effect is much more noticeable in Google’s photo. Which one is better will depend on your preference.
One of the biggest differences between these two phones is the build quality. You’ll notice Apple’s iPhone is made of glass and metal and has a very premium feel to it. The Pixel 3a XL is made of a more lightweight polycarbonate material. This makes the Pixel 3a feel much more lightweight, but it also has a little bit of a cheaper feel to it. The iPhone, on the other hand, does feel more premium, but it’s also a bit heavier.
Another important difference between these two phones is the screen. You’ll notice that the iPhone XS Max has an edge-to-edge screen, whereas Google’s Pixel 3a still has bezels on the top and bottom like some older phones from previous years. In everyday use, the screen quality was pretty similar between the two phones, other than that design difference. An important detail about Google’s Pixel 3a is that it still comes with an OLED screen, whereas a lot of cheaper phones come with LCD screens.
For a cheap phone, the Pixel 3a XL performed pretty well in everyday use. I didn’t notice much lagging except for a couple of circumstances. In one instance, for example, I noticed that a game that I had been playing was a bit laggy. Although it was still playable, it just didn’t feel as buttery smooth as it did on the iPhone. That’s because the Pixel 3a runs on a lower-end processor, while Apple’s iPhone XS Max comes with the company’s top-of-the-line A12 Bionic chip.
The battery life on the Pixel 3a XL was very impressive. I was able to get through a full day of use and then a half day after that without having to plug the phone in. That’s usually the type of battery life I would expect from a much more expensive phone. While the Pixel 3a XL does not support wireless charging, it does come with a fast charger in the box. That’s important because the iPhone currently doesn’t come with a fast charger. It comes with the same 5-watt charger that Apple has been selling with its iPhones for years.
And of course, the Pixel 3a comes with Google-specific features that you can only get on the company’s smartphones. For example, the Pixel 3a has a feature that lets you launch the Google Assistant just by squeezing the bottom of the phone. Some people may find that useful, but I honestly didn’t really use it very much. But it’s just an example of how Google is trying to differentiate its smartphone experience from the rest.
One thing I tend to love about Android phones in general, since a few phones have this feature, is the always-on display. That means that even when you turn the phone’s screen off, you can still see information like the time and notifications. I find this to be very useful, and it’s a feature that companies like Google and Samsung have adopted that Apple still has not brought to the iPhone. Most of the Google-specific features, as I mentioned earlier, can be found in the device’s camera.
But when it comes to Apple, if you’re an Apple fan, and you like to use AirPods often, and you have an Apple watch, your gonna miss that experience by switching to Android. That’s one of the key features that’s kept me hooked into Apple’s ecosystem. You can use AirPods with Android phones, but you won’t get the same benefits that you get from pairing them with an iPhone. Other than that, some of the key differences that you get when you buy a more expensive phone like the iPhone XS Max are advanced features like wireless charging and facial recognition.
Those two features are definitely appreciated, and I love being able to just rest my iPhone on my nightstand on its wireless charger without having to fiddle with a cable. But it’s not necessarily worth paying all of that extra money.
Also, with Apple’s newest iPhones, you get Face ID, which lets you unlock the phone just by looking at it. The Pixel 3a does not have this feature, although it does have a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. The fingerprint sensor worked pretty reliably in my experience. There were a couple of times where it would ask me to swipe my finger again, but that also happens with Face ID occasionally. I don’t always unlock the phone immediately when I look at it.
The Pixel 3a is a great phone for those who maybe have a phone that’s a year or two old, and they’re looking to upgrade, but they don’t want to pay $1,000. Smartphones are getting more expensive than ever with new models from Samsung, Apple, and even Google with its more premium phones costing nearly $1,000. This is a great option for Android fans that want to upgrade and really care about camera quality and display quality and battery life but don’t necessarily want to chalk up the extra, you know, $500 for the top-of-the-line smartphone that has high-end features like facial recognition and wireless charging.