Google Pixel 3a vs 3: Price, Specs, Display for the Mid-Range Smartphones

The Pixel 3a could surprisingly one-up the Pixel 3 in some departments.

Evan Blass / Google

Google is getting ready to take the stage for I/O, the company’s annual developers conference. At this year’s conference, the company is expected to depart from the regular agenda to introduce a bunch of new hardware. In addition to a refreshed line of Google Homes under the Nest umbrella, the company is also expected to roll out a new line of Pixel smartphones dubbed the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

Like the Pixel 3, the Pixel 3as have been pretty heavily leaked, most recently by the leaker Roland Quandt who late Monday tweeted promotional images of the Pixel 3a in white and black, as well as a complete specs list.

The phones are essentially a sure thing: Google even teased that new products to coming to Pixel lineup on May 7 — today. Google has also discounted both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL by about $200 each.

It’s a new market for Google, who has previously targeted premium buyers. Last year’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones cost $799 and $899 at release, and boasted top-of line OLED screens and one of the best camera rigs in the industry. But like most other smartphone makers, the Pixel may have over-estimated the demand for premium handsets. These new Pixel 3s are expected to come in much cheaper, likely below the $599 mark where the premium Pixel 3s are currently priced.

Surprisingly, the device is even expected to improve upon certain aspects of the Pixel 3, while still finding ways to cut its overall cost. Here’s how the Pixel 3 and rumored 3a will stack up against each other.

Google Pixel 3a vs 3: Price

There’s been no official word the 3a’s cost. But to target the middle market, it will have to be much cheaper than the $799 price tag that the Pixel 3 initially shipped with.

Middle-of-the-road smartphones — like the Moto Z3 — are usually priced between $400 and $500 so expect that 3a to land somewhere in that ballpark. Plus, now that the Pixel 3 is on sale for $599 it would be surprising if Google’s budget phone costs more than its flagship.

But even with discount, the 3a could pack a handful of specs that are superior to its more expensive counterpart.

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are both getting discounts, which could be evidence of an impending Pixel 3a launch.


Google Pixel 3a vs 3: Spec Improvements

We won’t know the Pixel 3a’s precise specs until its launch, but leaked specs suggest it will come with a slightly bigger screen and a marginally better battery than the Pixel 3.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison for each of the improved specs the Pixel 3a is expected to come with:

  • Pixel 3a Display: 5.6-inch OLED with 2,220x1,080 resolution with no notch.
  • Pixel 3 Display: 5.5-inch OLED with 2,160x1,080 resolution with no notch.
  • Pixel 3a Battery: 3,000mAh that supports 18-watt fast charging via USB-C.
  • Pixel 3 Battery: 2,915mAh that supporsts 18-watt fast charging via USB-C.

These improvements aren’t exactly something to write home about. The 3a will have a screen that’s just 0.1-inches larger than the 3, and while there will be extra battery capacity it might not extend the charge too much given the larger display.

This means it is unlikely that the 3a will offer any shocking differences in terms of performance, though there will be at least one major change: The 3a may bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack that was absent from Google’s last two releases. This is according to a Russian blog Rozetked, who as you may recall, successfully got their hands on last year’s Pixel 3s months ahead of their actual unveiling.

But to make room for this small handful of improvements, there will be some notable downgrades to reduce its price.

Alleged leaked images of the Pixel 3a show that it comes with a headphone jack.


Google Pixel 3a vs 3: Spec Downgrades

Just like how the iPhone XR cut some of the XS’s premium features, the same is true for the Pixel 3a. These downgrades will primarily affect under-the-hood performance and the Pixel 3a’s selfie cameras.

  • Pixel 3a Chipset: Snapdragon 670 (10-nanometer).
  • Pixel 3 Chipset: Snapdragon 845 (10-nanometer).
  • Pixel 3a Rear-Camera: A single 12 megapixels lens.
  • Pixel 3a Rear-Camera: A single 12.2 megapixel lens.
  • Pixel 3a Front-Camera: Single 8 megapixel lens.
  • Pixel 3 Front-Cameras: An 8 MP wide lens and 8MP ultra-wide lens.

Fortunately, unless you run both phones side-by-side, you’re unlikely to notice a difference with the chipset. Google is expected to opt for a slightly older Qualcomm architecture than what’s in premium phones today, but this chipset has been tested in the past and will still “feel” a lot like the performance offered by the Snapdragon 845.

Finally, the 3a will lose the Pixel 3’s ultra-wide front camera. This means users won’t be able to zoom out to fit more people into a selfie, which was a big selling point for the Pixel 3 and 3XL.

Google Pixel 3a vs 3: New Color

The Pixel 3 comes in white, black, and pink, while the Pixel 3a could add an additional color to the roster: purple.

Blass tweeted a leaked image of what he claims is the Pixel 3a in purple with a lime-green lock button. When Google teased that a new Pixel could be on the way, it also debuted new Avengers: Endgame-themed AR stickers. This was followed by a series of Marvel Easter eggs that appeared on the search engine on April 26.

When users Google “Thanos,” the purple-skinned antagonist in the Avengers: Endgame, their search results vanish into dust. A purple Pixel 3a might also include a similar hat tip to the super villain.

Related Tags