We’ve known about the Google Pixel 3a XL for a while now, but it’s now official. The new mid-range Pixel 3a XL has a lot in common with its older flagship brother, though there are a few key differences that allow it to be priced much more aggressively.
We already talked about how the Pixel 3a compares to the Pixel 3, now let’s take a look how the Google Pixel 3a XL and Google Pixel 3 XL compare.
Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Design, display, and hardware
The Pixel 3a XL and 3 XL have nearly identical designs on the rear, though the Pixel 3a trades the glass design of the Pixel 3 for polycarbonate (aka plastic). This material swap means the Pixel 3a won’t feel quite as premium but it still looks great and actually is likely to be more durable as a result of the design change. Both phones pack the same squeezy Active Edge feature, too.
The frontside is where the biggest design changes are apparent. The Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and no notch, while the Pixel 3 XL has a larger 18:9 6.3-inch OLED panel with a large notch on top. Those who hated the notch might actually find the Pixel 3a XL’s smaller screen a worthwhile exchange. Both displays have Full HD+ resolution support and both have always-on displays.
Both the Pixel 3s XL and the Pixel 3 XL have 4GB of RAM, but the Pixel 3a XL switches to a more mid-range Snapdragon 670, vs the Snapdragon 845 found in the Pixel 3. While the 670 should be enough for most users, it’s worth noting 4GB of RAM could end up being the bigger bottleneck. Due to the lower than standard RAM levels, the Pixel 3 had task management issues at times. Hopefully, the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t run into the same issues.
Both phones have a base of 64GB of storage and no microSD card slot, though the Pixel 3 XL is also offered in a 128GB model. As for overall size, the Pixel 3a XL is a bit thicker than the Pixel 3 XL, allowing for more battery space. The 3a XL has a 3,700mAh cell while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430mAh cell.
As for the “extras,” the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t have wireless charging capabilities despite its plastic design, and it does not have an IP rating. The pricier Pixel 3 XL has support for Qi wireless charging and an IP68 water resistance rating. The 3a XL does have a headphone jack though, which we’re really happy to see make its return.
Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Cameras
The star of the Pixel 3a XL experience is the rear camera, which is identical to the Pixel 3 XL’s 12.2MP rear camera sensor. Other key features include an f/1.8 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, OIS, EIS, and a 76-degree field-of-view.
The Pixel 3 XL does offer more around front. It has two 8MP front sensors: one standard lens with a 75-degree field-of-view and an f/1.8 aperture autofocus lens, and one wide-angle sensor with a 97-degree field-of-view and an f/2.2 aperture fixed-focus lens. The Pixel 3a XL has just one 8MP fixed-focus front sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and an 84-degree field of view. So, you won’t be able to squeeze as many people into your selfies as you would with the Pixel 3 XL.
One of the best parts about the Pixel series is that Google has historically given free original-quality Google Photos storage away with its devices. This remains true for the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3. Unfortunately the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t offer this perk. That means photos uploaded to Google Photos on the free tier will be capped at 1080p.
Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL specs:
|Google Pixel 3a XL||Google Pixel 3 XL specs|
2,160 x 1,080 resolution
18:9 aspect ratio
|6.3-inch flexible OLED
1,440 x 2,960 resolution
18.5:9 screen ratio
Gorilla Glass 5
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 670||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|GPU||Adreno 615||Adreno 630|
No microSD slot
No microSD slot
|Cameras||Rear: 12.2MP f/1.8 sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, OIS and EIS, spectral and flicker sensor
|Rear: 12.2MP f/1.8 sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, OIS and EIS, spectral and flicker sensor
|IP rating||No IP rating||IP68|
|Other features||Dual front-facing speakers, Active Edge, USB Type-C, single nano-SIM||Dual front-facing speakers, Active Edge, USB Type-C, single nano-SIM|
|Software version||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish||Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink|
|Dimensions and weight||160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2mm
|76.7 x 158.0 x 7.9mm / 3.0 x 6.2 x 0.3in
184g / 6.5oz
Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Price
The price is clearly the biggest selling point for the Pixel 3a XL. While the Pixel 3 XL is offered for a steep $899 (on sale now for $699), the Pixel 3a XL will go for just $479. That’s not a bad price at all, considering the fact that you’re getting a similarly great overall experience.
Of course there are a lot of other phones on the market from brands including OnePlus and Xiaomi that offer better performance for a similar price tag, which might make the Pixel 3a XL a bit harder of a sell. Ultimately the biggest draws for the Pixel 3A XL are the promise of fast Android updates and the fact it offers one of the best mobile cameras money can buy.
Thoughts? Obviously, the Pixel 3 XL is the better phone overall, but would you pick up a Pixel 3a XL if you were in the market for a ~$500 smartphone? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our other Pixel 3a XL coverage below.
- Google Pixel 3a / 3a XL specs: Snapdragon 670, same great camera, and a headphone jack!
- Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL price and release date
- Google Pixel 3a phones lack free original quality Google Photos backups
- Google Nest Hub Max is a super-sized smart display with built-in Nest Cam
- Google Maps AR navigation is finally here (if you have a Pixel phone)