It’s been a year since Google debuted the Pixel 3A, its first affordable Pixel, and there still aren’t a lot of Android phones in its price range that can compete. The phone, which comes in two sizes, initially launched at $399 (and $479 for the XL model), but now with a successor rumored to be around the corner, you can get it for a paltry starting price of $280.
The Pixel 3A (9/10, WIRED Recommends) has one of the best cameras on a phone under $500, partly because of a feature called Night Sight. It takes multiple exposures of a scene and stitches them together for a better, well-lit photo. Plus, artificial intelligence is employed to add some color to what might be an otherwise muted image. Most phones in this range, even the iPhone SE, don’t fare as well when it comes to low-light photography. The 3A has a 5.6-inch screen while the 3A XL comes in at 6-inches. That means the latter has a bigger battery, but both will last around a full day.
Google is expected to launch a successor aptly-named the Pixel 4A this summer, which is likely why the 3A is seeing such low prices. It’s rumored to have a more modern-looking screen with slim bezels around, a more powerful processor, and a similar single-camera system. Still, even if the Pixel 4A launches next week, the 3A at its discounted price remains a fantastic value.
Is the Pixel 3A Right for You?
Make sure to check out our Best Android Phones and Best Cheap Phones guides to see how the Pixel 3A stacks up against the competition. Here’s what we like and dislike about it.
WIRED: The Pixel 3A retains the best part of Google’s flagship Pixel phones: a fantastic camera. Using its software smarts, Google’s image processing helps the single rear camera snap photos that are leaps and bounds better than the competition, especially at night.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor inside coupled with 4 GB of RAM keep it running relatively smoothly, more than several newer budget phones I’ve tested like the Samsung Galaxy A51 and Moto G Stylus. Battery life is also good, you get a headphone jack, and don’t forget, because it’s a Pixel, you get three years of Android version upgrades and security updates (it will stop getting updates around May 2022). That kind of support for a budget phone can’t be found anywhere else short of Android One phones from Nokia or the iPhone.