I recently got the privilege to try out the Google Pixel 3a XL which is the company’s latest smartphone. This device is Google’s answer to a much more affordable phone that promises to deliver the same premium performance akin to the flagship Pixel 3. After all, Google has always proven that good software can actually achieve great things. We previously shared our experience on the camera performance of the Pixel 3 XL (especially with Night Sight).
Since it’s the summer vacation period, I had a short getaway in Bali planned and thought it was a perfect chance to test out the camera of the Pixel 3a XL.
What’s different in the Pixel 3a XL?
In many aspects, the phone looks very similar. It has the familiar shape and design you would expect from a Pixel phone. Here’s a short unboxing of the Pixel 3a XL when we first got our hands on it.
If you look closely, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL now come with a headphone jack. In an interview with Android Authority, product manager Soniya Jobanputra shared that consumers who purchase these phones at this tier needed the flexibility of a headphone jack.
We really felt that consumers at this price point and this tier really needed flexibility [for the headphone jack].Soniya Jobanputra, Product Manager, Google
You’ll also notice that there is only a single front-facing camera compared to a dual-camera arrangement on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL which had a wide-angle lens.
It would also be relevant to point out that that you would lose the unlimited cloud storage of original quality backups in Google Photos that supposedly came with every Pixel phone. On the bright side, the high-quality unlimited cloud storage option is still available (same deal available to non-Google phones). The picture quality on those backups is ultimately still pretty good, to be honest.
Who doesn’t love a good comparison test? I’ve put together a few different test shots taken in well-lit conditions as well as low-light conditions. These shots here contain no edits and have only been resized to optimise the load time on this webpage. Can you tell a difference?
[Left: Pixel 3a XL, Right: Pixel 3 XL]
In the above scene, you can tell that the Pixel 3a XL (left) has a slightly cooler colour temperature compared to the Pixel 3 XL (right). This phenomenon is recognisable in the next comparison shot as well.
Here is a great example where the Pixel 3 XL is still superior. The above scene may be rather challenging considering the bright sky contrasting with the people in the pool. The Pixel 3 XL (right) seems to have captured more dynamic range in the pool area. It also captured more accurate skin tones. Lastly, the sky seems to be rather flat on the Pixel 3a XL (left) compared to the Pixel 3 XL (right) which managed to better capture the gradient in the sky.
For low-light conditions, both phones perform pretty similarly. The Pixel 3 XL was already known for its ability to capture very well in the dark conditions compared to other smartphones. The Pixel 3a XL (left) seems to have captured something on par with the Pixel 3 XL (right).
Both phones managed to capture this scene pretty similarly as well. You can still detect a slightly cooler colour temperature on the Pixel 3a XL (left) if you look really really closely at the sun rays. But that would be nitpicking at this point.
I did manage to try the time-lapse mode on the Pixel 3a XL as well. Have a look at this beautiful sunset in Bali taken over a 30-minute period.
Are you satisfied with the camera performance on the Google Pixel 3a XL? Feel free to leave us a comment on our Facebook or Instagram!
Pricing and availability
Google Pixel 3a: S$659
Google Pixel 3a XL: S$779
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are now available in Singapore in two colours – Just Black or Clearly White.
Learn more: https://store.google.com/product/pixel_3a