Google brings its impressive camera tech to new mid-range 3A, 3A XL smartphones
Google has unveiled the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, a pair of mid-range phones that put the best parts of its flagship devices—namely the cameras—into more wallet-friendly packages.
Announced today at Google I/O, the phones feature 5.6" and 6" 1080p OLED displays (respectively), Snapdragon 670 processors, 4GB RAM, 12.2-megapixel rear cameras and 64GB of storage. Both units have USB-C charging (no wireless charging), fingerprint readers, 3.5mm headphone jacks and Google's Active Edge technology, which summons 'Hey Google' with a quick squeeze of the phone.
The two new devices look similar to Google's more powerful Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL devices, but come in slightly taller, feature a downward-facing bottom speaker and feature a spot on the top for the 3.5mm headphone jack. Unlike the Pixel 3 XL, there's no notch on either phone.
Diving into the camera details, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL use the same award-winning main rear camera found inside the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, with a 12.2MP Sony IMX363 1/2.55" (1.4μm pixels) dual-pixel sensor and an F1.8 lens (76-degree FOV, 28mm equiv.). Missing is the 19mm equiv. wide-angle 'group selfie' front camera found on the original Pixel 3 phones, but this is mitigated by the wider FOV (84-degree FOV, 24mm equiv.) of the traditional 8MP F2.0 (1.12μm pixels) front-facing camera on the 3a. All the smarts packed into the Pixel 3 camera, like Night Sight, Super-Res Zoom, and learning-based Portrait Mode, are all available on the new devices.
Video capabilities remain the same, with a maximum specification of 4K/30p, and steadycam-like footage thanks to a combination of optical and electronic stabilization.
What's powering the cameras inside the 3a and 3a XL differs, for obvious cost-cutting reasons. Rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and Adreno 630, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL use the older, less powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 and Adreno 615. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL also lack Google's custom Pixel Visual Core processor, meaning all image processing is done on just the CPU and GPU.
The displays on the 3a and 3a XL are also a compromise: Google has opted for 'gOLED' (the 'g' is for 'glass') displays as opposed to the Super AMOLED displays found on the Pixel 3 phones. The resolution of the 3a (2280 x 1080) is similar to the 3, but the 3a XL (2160 x 1080) has notably lower resolution than the 3 XL (1440 x 2960). Google claims that the lower frame-rate and resolution of the 3a devices make them incompatible with the company's Daydream VR headset.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are available in black, white and a new color Google calls 'purple-ish' for $399 / £399 and $479 / £469, respectively.
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