Google Pixel 3a XL review
Big screen, big battery, and AR in Google Maps
The Pixel 3a XL is priced from £469 (handset only) and this makes it up to half the price of the Pixel 3 XL and other premium phones.
The Google Pixel 3a XL has a larger 6” full-screen OLED display, compared to the Pixel 3a. Interestingly, the resolution is slightly higher, but not noticeable, on the standard Pixel 3a. On the Pixel 3a XL the FHD+ resolution (1,080x 2,160 pixels) equates to 402 pixels per inch.
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The larger display area makes it a little easier to use and there is a truer black level, crisper whites, and more vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds. You will also save a lot of time with the always-on display showing crucial information, without you needing to wake up the phone.
The Google Pixel 3a XL has a good looking polycarbonate body that weighs in at only 167g and is 8.2mm thick. You can take your pick of three colours; Purple-ish, Clearly White, or Just Black.
With stereo speakers and two microphones with noise suppression, the Pixel 3a XL handles sound expertly. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.0GHz octa-core processor with 4GB RAM comes with a few perks that let you get the best experience possible. The chip is paired up with Android Sensor Hub, a microprocessor that deals with the sensors of the phone, allowing the processor to give a faster performance and use less energy.
Phone Set Up
Pixel Imprint, Titan M, and no memory card slot
Your setup will include registering a fingerprint for security and the Pixel Imprint fingerprint reader is faster than before. The Google Pixel 3a XL also has a Titan M security module that protects your passwords and the operating system itself.
One minor downside to the phone is that there is no memory card slot. The 64GB internal memory is plenty for you to transfer over any old content that you may want to save. If you are a superuser that saves and downloads everything, then it is a good idea to start using Google Drive online storage and Google Photos, which offers free online (cloud) unlimited high-quality storage of your photos and videos.
Pixel OS updates
One of the most attractive reasons for purchasing a Pixel phone is the guarantee of software updates. The Pixel 3a XL runs on Android 9 Pie and will get the update to Android Q in late summer when it is released.
You will get at least three years of security and operating system updates. This means that you will be safe online and be able to enjoy to newest features before other Android users.
The Active Edge on the Pixel 3a XL allows you to give the phone a squeeze to wake up the Google Assistant. The assistant can check your commute times, send texts, get the answers to questions, set reminders, and play music. You can also use Active Edge to silence incoming calls.
Further features include Google Cast (share your screen on a TV or projector) and Digital Wellbeing (set time limits for your app usage each day).
AR in Google Maps
AR in Google Maps is a new navigational tool for walking directions. Google Maps AR lets you use the camera to see the road ahead and the phone matches what your camera sees to existing Street View landmarks. The phone then shows you on the screen a big visual arrow as to which street to walk down.
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Augmented Reality is shown off at its best here and it is especially useful when you start navigating and don’t know which way to head.
Camera & Video
Lose the flash with Night Sight
Using a flash at night often results in a pixelated photo, while not using the flash results in a dark image with no colour or detail. The 12.2MP camera on the Google Pixel 3a XL has a Night Sight tool to tackle this. With no flash, you can capture photos with rich colours, detail, and clarity.
Shooting in Portrait Mode gives you a depth editor that lets you blur the background. You can also use Colour Pop to reduce the colour in the background, all the way down to black and white, so your subject really pops in the image.
Other camera features include HDR+, Motion Auto-Focus, Top Shot, Time-lapse Video, 4K video recording, Super Res Zoom, and 8MP selfies.
Higher battery capacity
The Google Pixel 3a XL has a bigger battery than the base model, which is another great reason to choose this phone over the Pixel 3a. The 3,700mAh battery is designed to last all day, with Adaptive Battery software reducing the drain from apps you rarely use.
As a bonus, the 18W fast charger is to be found in the box, so you can recharge in record time.
Next: Google Pixel 3a review
Written by: Michael Brown