On Tuesday, Google announced the new Pixel 3a, and according to my twitter feed, most people think it is incredible, offering all the features they want from Pixel 3 at an affordable price.

I don’t doubt that it is a great phone; the software experience on Pixel phones is almost universally regarded as the best for Android. Google also does some spectacular magic with their cameras allowing it to be one of the best low light options on the market. It is most likely that these are the reasons why Google thinks their Pixel phones can command such a high price when on paper, they offer worse value for money than many competing brands.  

With the announcement of the Pixel 3a at a price point of £400, Google has positioned themselves in an awkward spot in my opinion. Yes, it is below most flagship prices, but not low enough to exclude all flagship phones.

They have used an upper mid-range chipset that is ageing in the quick moving world of Qualcomm products. The SD670 was launched in August last year, since then there has been the SD675, SD712, SD730 all launched which sit above this chipset. Now, if it had launched with the Snapdragon 730, I think it would be a real hit in terms of value for money.

Ignoring the software advantages of Pixel phones, and pretending I am your average Jo looking for a new phone at a £400 price point the Pixel 3a does not look good at all.

A quick refresh of its specs:

  • Display: 5.6 inches, 1080 x 2220 pixels, 75.0% screen-to-body ratio
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Rear Camera: Single 12.2 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, OIS, dual pixel PDAF
  • Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1.12µm
  • Battery: 3000mAh, 18w fast charging
  • Other: 3.5mm, rear-mounted fingerprint reader, no IP rating

Now let’s look at three competing options, which all cost more or less the same. The Xiaomi Mi 9 is perhaps the odd one out, it has some moronic pricing for the UK at £499, but you can buy it from Amazon Spain for £386 including all shipping and taxing. Considering I am pretending to be your average Jo buying a phone, I should have excluded this, but I wanted to prove a point.

£343.47
£499.99
in stock
12 new from £343.47
5 used from £299.99
Amazon.co.uk
Last updated on 24th July 2019 12:35 am

Samsung A70

  • Display: 6.7 inches, 1080 x 2400 pixels, 86.0% screen-to-body ratio
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 675
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Rear Camera: 32 MP, f/1.7, PDAF, 8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 5 MP, f/2.2, depth sensor
  • Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0, 0.8µm
  • Battery: 4500mAh, 25w fast charging
  • Other: 3.5mm, Fingerprint (under display), no IP rating

Honor View 20

  • Display: 6.4 inches, 1080 x 2310 pixels, 85.7% screen-to-body ratio
  • Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 980
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Rear Camera: 48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF, TOF 3D stereo camera
  • Front Camera: 25 MP, f/2.0, 27mm
  • Battery: 4000mAh, 22.5w fast charging
  • Other: 3.5mm, rear-mounted fingerprint reader, no IP rating

Xiaomi Mi 9

  • Display: 6.39  inches, 1080 x 2340 pixels, 85.2% screen-to-body ratio
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Rear Camera: 48 MP, 16 MP (ultrawide), 12 MP (telephoto), Laser/PDAF, 2x optical zoom
  • Front Camera: 20 MP, f/2.0, 0.9µm
  • Battery: 3300mAh, 27w fast charging, 20w wireless charging
  • Other: Fingerprint (under display), no IP rating

Just looking at the specification, the Pixel 3a looks shocking in comparison, also, while a lot of people don’t like notches, I think most people will prefer the overall look of the other three phones. Though, if you long for the days of smaller phones, the Pixel looks perfect, being tiny by 2019 standards.

It is also worth noting, the that Qualcomm line-up is a little confusing, the Snapdragon 675 on the Samsung is newer, and sits up higher on the ladder than the SD660, with a superior processor, but it has worse graphics, Adreno 612 vs Adreno 615.

The camera differences are interesting too, everyone seems to love the Pixel 3, especially with its low light performance and the 3a has the same camera, so I can see the appeal here. But, your average punter on the street is going to see a single 12MP camera vs 32MP & 48MP primary cameras. The Mi 9 has a triple lens set up with ultra-wide and 2x optical zoom!

Granted the average punter isn’t going to be importing the Mi 9 from Amazon Spain, but the specification comparison is absolutely insane. It is a phone that trades blows with options double its price, so a side by side with the 3a shows how much of a premium Google are asking for their new phone.

Some people have pointed out that it is odd to launch the Pixel 3a rather than wait for the 4, I am inclined to agree with this, it would have also allowed them more time to fit in a new and hopefully superior SoC, ideally the SD730.

To reiterate, before anyone jumps in to criticise my comparison and defend the Pixel phones. I have only compared these phone based on specification and price, which is what I feel the vast majority of people will look at when deciding to buy.

£343.47
£499.99
in stock
12 new from £343.47
5 used from £299.99
Amazon.co.uk
Last updated on 24th July 2019 12:35 am