Looking for the best value Android phone? Want performance, looks, and great software? I was too, which is why I got the Pixel 3a…
In a world of $1000 phones, finding value for money when getting a new phone is increasingly difficult, especially if you want top-notch performance, a great camera, and solid software performance (as well as regular updates).
Get a cheap Android phone, something like an OPPO or an Honor, and you get plenty of value for money. You also get decent specs and performance. But you DO NOT get good software. Nor do you get regular updates. And this is a problem.
Why? Because Android is constantly changing, getting new features and security patches, so you always want to be running the latest builds of Google’s Android software. And until very recently, this simply wasn’t possible on what you’d call “budget Android phones” – you had to pay BIG money for it with Google’s Pixel phones.
Enter The Google Pixel 3a – AKA The Best Value Android Phone
Google’s Nexus phones were cheap; for many, this was part of their appeal. But the main thing was the software – you got updates as soon as they were ready and there was NO bloatware, just Android as Google intended. But then Google killed off its Nexus project.
Google replaced its Nexus phones with Pixel phones. Now in their third generation, Google’s Pixel phones – until this year – were priced the same as Apple and Samsung’s phones (meaning: expensive). And sales suffered as a result.
But then something magical happened: Google announced and released the Google Pixel 3a, a true Pixel phone with all the trimmings, just priced like its old Nexus phones ($399). Needless to say, as a long-time Nexus user, I got myself a Pixel 3a as soon as they were available. Since then, I haven’t looked back. The Pixel 3a is fantastic.
And don’t be put off by its low price ($399), the Google Pixel 3a is a solid performer with an excellent camera and utterly brilliant software. It’s also designed beautifully too, though it does lack water resistance (not a deal-breaker for me), the lack of water-proofing does bring one benefit – the return of the headphone jack.
I got my Pixel 3a via Amazon for $399, then I shopped around for a plan with unlimited data. Compared to how I usually get phones, big upfront costs and high monthly fees, this method was infinitely preferable. Plus, I’m not tied to any, one carrier. I’m free to follow the best deals and offerings. Total freedom, basically.
Google Pixel 3a Specs – What You Get For $399
- Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
- Display: 5.6in OLED (1080×2220)
- OS: Android 9
- CPU: Qualcomm SDM670 Snapdragon 670
- Memory: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB
- Camera: 12.2 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
As you can see, there are a few choice cuts here that have been implemented to bring down the price of the Google Pixel 3a. It doesn’t use the latest CPU from Qualcomm, for instance, nor does it feature insane levels of RAM. Instead, it uses a more sensible approach; it features what 99.9% of users ACTUALLY need, not what they think they need.
Case in point: you don’t need 8GB of memory in a phone, nor do you need the latest and greatest CPU, not if all you’re doing is browsing the web, using a few applications, and taking pictures. I’m a tech journalist with access to all kinds of phones, but the Pixel 3a is more than enough for me – from performance to battery life and camera, it’s all brilliant.
And for 60% less than Apple’s iPhone XS Max? Yeah, that’s amazing value for money. And remember: the Pixel 3a is a Google phone and that means it will get Android updates as soon as they’re available, which means right away. And this, along with awesome performance, is the Pixel 3a’s main selling point.
It is the ONLY Android phone you can pick up for less than $400 that will get Android updates on time and for the next two years. No other Android phone can claim to do that. Nor can some $1000 Android phones. And that is what makes the Google Pixel 3a so very special. It’s also why I use it as my daily driver.
How’s The Pixel 3a Camera?
The Google Pixel 3a’s camera, like all Pixel phone cameras before it, is exceptional. DXOMark scored it 100%, for instance, and that means it is one of the best cameras on the market right now. You have a single 12.2Mp sensor coupled to a 28mm f/1.8-aperture lens with optical image stabilization (OIS).
Images produced by the Pixel 3a camera are, as you’d expect, utterly fantastic. They’re clear, crisp, and detailed. And you also have support for things like Portrait Mode, which is usually reserved for more expensive handsets. How has Google done this? Surely the camera should suffer on cheaper handsets?
Normally, this would be the case. However, Google made cuts elsewhere, removing things like water-proofing and using a lower-spec Qualcomm CPU to keep the price down. The camera remains untouched, meaning you get the best Pixel camera performance to date. And this is why the handset is getting so popular; Google Pixel sales have doubled year-on-year, thanks to the Pixel 3a.
Bottom Line? Why The Pixel 3a Rocks Super-Hard…
When you’re looking for a new phone, there are several things most people want from their new phone: 1) performance, 2) good battery life, 3) a great camera, and 4) good software with decent support. The Pixel 3a nails every single one of these points. And it does it all for just $399 – that’s 60% cheaper than Apple’s iPhone XS Max.
The Pixel 3a is good-looking, simple to use, and the software it runs – pure, stock Android – is truly beautiful and packed with tons of useful features like Google Assistant and free, unlimited Google Drive storage. But the best thing about this phone is the price – for $399 it is impossible to beat if you’re looking for value for money.
Nothing else comes even remotely close – not Apple’s iPhone XR, not the OnePlus 7, and not even Motorola’s Moto G. The Google Pixel 3a is now, FINALLY, in a class of its own. I just can’t believe it took Google, a company that employs some of the smartest people in the world, so long to figure out that this is what people ACTUALLY want from its Pixel phones…
You can now buy a phone outright, get amazing performance and regular software updates, and then shop around for the best plans for your data needs. For this reason, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t like the Google Pixel 3a. For me, it is the #1 best value phone on the planet right now.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.