It’s been a few years now since Google released the Pixel 3a. Back in 2019, the Pixel 3a was a way of bringing Google’s signature hardware brand to more people through more affordable pricing. Since then however, we’ve seen the newer Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G take center-stage in Google’s midrange Pixel line-up.
As good as these devices are though, it’s no secret that some people are still on the hunt for their very own Pixel 3a in 2021 — maybe you’re after one because it’s cheaper now and closer to your budget, or maybe you just want a Pixel 3a to add to your collection. Whatever the case may be, here are a few points of consideration if you intend to purchase a Google Pixel 3a in 2021.
Hardware and Camera
Looking at the hardware, it should be mentioned that the Pixel 3a comes with specifications and a design that you’d find on phones from a couple of years ago. It’s a very minimalist and compact device compared to most smartphones, and while it does feature a small 5.6-inch OLED display, the Pixel 3a lacks the hole punch design that you see on a lot of modern phones, and some people will prefer this as you do get a screen that isn’t obstructed in any way. It’s a high-resolution 60hz display with 1080p, and perhaps my only complaint is that it’s not very bright under direct sunlight. It also features top and bottom stereo speakers, which do have a nice bass sound and also comes with a headphone jack. As a media-consumption device it works very well, but unfortunately there is no microSD slot so you’re stuck with 64GB of internal storage for your media.
In terms of biometrics there is a fingerprint scanner at the back, which in my opinion is a very convenient location.
On the inside you have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 SoC paired with 4GB of RAM, which in this day and age is pretty much a standard for a lot of midrange phones. While this configuration doesn’t sound like much, it actually does a good job of providing smooth day-to-day usage. Web browsing, media consumption, and even most games on the Google Playstore are effortlessly handled by the Pixel 3a, although you have to keep in mind that you won’t get flagship-level performance on this phone. The 3000 mAh battery also does a great job of lasting throughout the day. I usually charge my 3a at night, go about my business and finish the day with around 20–25% battery left. Of course if you play a lot of games or use data then you will need to charge more often.
Perhaps the best feature of the Pixel 3a is its camera. It’s a basic set-up, with a 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera. What sets it apart from the rest of the midrange competition however, is Google’s computational photography. The image processing software baked into the OS works wonders and the Pixel 3a makes for a great point-and-shoot camera, in both day and night situations. Personally I do enjoy taking portrait photos and night shots on the phone. There’s also image stabilization, so video clips don’t have that shaky look to them. Take a look at these sample shots:
Let’s move on to software. The Pixel 3a has since been updated to Android 11, which is the current version of Android at the time of this writing. It’s also scheduled to get Android 12 at some point, so we can expect another major firmware update with this device. Google also provides monthly security updates for this phone which do add more value to the device as you get new features. Pixel 3a owners can also try out the current Android 12 beta on their phones, which introduces a refreshed interface and additional customizability options.
Now, what’s the catch? Well, since it is an older device, Google announced last year that it will officially discontinue the Pixel 3a, meaning that the last firmware update it’ll get is most likely Android 12. Additionally, if you want to purchase the Pixel 3a you’ll have to get it through third-party retailers, as google no longer sells it on their site.
Speaking of purchasing the Pixel 3a, you can find it at lower prices these days. It first launched at around $399s, but today you can get it brand new for around $300 depending on your retailer, or second-hand for less than $200. Of course this may vary and you’ll really have to do some digging to get a Pixel 3a at extremely low prices.
So should you still buy the Pixel 3a in 2021? Well, if you’re not always after the latest Android phones and are instead looking for a bargain deal, then there’s a good chance you can get a Pixel 3a at a lower price these days. It still provides a great user experience, comes with some good specs and gives you the best of what google has to offer in terms of Android hardware. Of course you do have to take into account the older design and spec sheet, but if these don’t bother you then by all means, get this phone.