GOOGLE'S LONG-RUMOURED Pixel 3a and 3a XL are official, as cut-price alternatives to the flagship Pixel 3 duo.
Unveiled at Google I/O 2019, the handsets offer much of the same high-end functionality as their predecessors, including the same 12.2MP Pixel camera with Night Sight mode and the same level of enterprise-grade security thanks to Google's Titan M chip.
We've rounded up everything you need to know about the smartphone duo below. You can also check out our thoughts on the handsets in our full Pixel 3a and 3a XL review.
Over at EE, which is offering a free Google Home Hub with Pixel 3a orders, the handset can be picked up from £25 per month. The larger Pixel 3a XL is available from £30 per month, with gets you 1GB of monthly data.
20/5/19: Early adopters of Google's Pixel 3a and 3a XL are complaining of random shutdowns when the devices are left idle. When the issue occurs, users are forced to hard reset their handset by holding the power button for around 30 seconds.
The cause of the issue, which was first brought to light on Reddit, remains unclear, although the possibility of a third-party app being the culprit has been ruled out.
"I had 3 shutdowns yesterday, including overnight, causing me to miss my wake alarm," one Reddit user moaned. "And another shutdown tonight. Today I used my phone in "Safe Mode" to eliminate any chance of a third party app causing it. Unfortunately, it did, so unless its an issue in the OS, it's hardware related."
10/5/19: iFixit has been quick to tear apart Google's new Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and has concluded that the devices are easier to repair than their flagship predecessors. The mid-range handsets earned a repairability score of 6 out of 10, with iFixit applauding the 3a's modular and easily-replaceable components, its repair-friendly adhesive and standard T3 Torx fasteners.
It's not all good news though; the teardown team notes that while the screen can be easily removed, it's "thin and poorly supported", and that the inside of the 3a is also a mess of long, thin ribbon cables which are easy to accidentally tear.
7/5/19: Google officially launched the Pixel 3a and 3a XL during its I/O keynote on Tuesday.
The handsets offer an affordable alternative to Google's flagship Pixel 3 devices but boast much of the same functionality of their pricier siblings. This includes the same 12.2MP single-lens Pixel camera, which although missing the backing of Pixel Google's Visual Core, promises the same high-end photography smarts thanks to some under-the-hood tinkering.
Google boasts that the camera, albeit marginally slower than that on the flagship Pixel 3, will deliver the same level of performance and will ship with all of the same software add-ons, including Google's Night Sight, Portrait and new-and-improved Photobooth mode. The 3a and 3a XL will also ship with new Time-lapse and, er, "duck face" modes, which will also be rolling out to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
Around the front, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL boast 5.6in and 6in 1080x2610 screens, respectively, flanked by a chunky top bezel that houses the 8MP front-facing camera. A rear-mounted fingerprint scanner sits on the backside of the devices.
Under the hood, the Pixel 3a handsets pack Snapdragon 670 SoCs, backed up by 4GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB built-in storage. Battery life is quoted as a decent 30 hours, and fast-charging support comes includes as standard.
Elsewhere, the Android 9 Pie duo pack Google's Titan M security chip, squeeze-to-activate Google Assistant support and, unlike the more-expensive Pixel 3 and 3 XL, a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The handsets will be available in three two-tone colour options: Just Black, Clearly White and Purple-ish.
3/5/19: The as-yet-unannounced Pixel 3a XL has made an appearance at a Best Buy store in the US. As spotted by Android Police, both the 'Purple-ish' and 'Just Black' models were on display at the shop in Springfield, Ohio, with the official packaging confirming that the handset will sport a 6in display and 64GB built-in storage.
2/5/19: The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL have leaked in full ahead of their unveiling on 7 May. The mega-scoop, via Droid-Life, reveals that the Android Pie devices will sport 5.6in and 6in screens, respectively, alongside an 'extraordinary" 12.2MP single-lens cameras complete with Google's usual software gubbins, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage and 3,000mAh and 3,700mAh batteries.
The report also reveals that the new Pixels will be available in white, black and purple colour options, complete with neon-coloured power buttons.
A separate report has revealed that the Pixel 3a and 3a XL will fetch $399 and $479 (3a XL) when they go on sale next week.
30/4/19: Google's mid-range Pixel 3a has cropped up on Geekbench just days ahead of its official launch. The premature listing, spotted by MySmartPrice, reveals that the handset, unsurprisingly, runs Android 9 Pie and packs 4GB RAM alongside a Qualcomm chipset; speculation suggests it'll use a Snapdragon 670 SoC.
In terms of benchmarking results, the Pixel 3a earned a single-core score of 1,625 and a multi-core score of 5,206, putting it a way behind the current crop of flagship Androids. However, the Pixel 3a is expected to arrive as a cut-price alternative to high-end devices, with rumours pointing to a sub-£400 price tag.
24/4/19: Google's Pixel 3a has been shown off in all its glory ahead of its 7 May unveiling. Twitter tipster Evleaks shared a high-res image of the incoming mid-ranger (below), confirming that it'll be a fairly standard-looking device complete with chunky bezels and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Google Pixel 3a pic.twitter.com/WFb1bfvlK9— Evan Blass (@evleaks) April 24, 2019
Thanks to an earlier leak from Google, we also know what to expect specs-wise; a 5.6in 2220x1080 screen, a Snapdragon 670 CPU paired with 4GB RAM, and the same Pixel Visual Core that powers the cameras on Google's current Pixel 3 devices.
16/4/19: Google will show off the Pixel 3a and 3a XL at its I/O conference on 7 May. A teaser on the Google Store (below) promises that "something big is coming to the Pixel universe," all-but-confirming that the mid-range duo will debut in less than a month's time.
8/4/19: Google's long-rumoured Pixel 3a and 3a XL have made an official appearance, both at the Google Store and the Google Play Developer Console's device catalogue.
The Store leak, spotted by 9to5Google, doesn't tell us much beyond the fact that the devices will likely go on sale soon, but the listing at Google's device catalogue confirms some more details about the mid-range devices.
The Pixel 3a, codenamed 'Bonito', will sport a 2,160x1080 display, while the larger 3a XL, or 'Sargo', will sport a taller 2,220x1080 screen. Both handsets will also pack 4GB RAM alongside Google's Pixel Visual Core, which according to earlier rumours will be paired with a Snapdragon 670 chip in the 3a and a Snapdragon 710 processor in the Pixel 3a XL.
The listings hint at a "midyear experience," all but confirming that the devices will make an appearance during Google's I/O keynote next month.
28/3/19: Google's long-rumoured 'budget' Pixel, the so-called Pixel 3a, will reportedly cost €450 (around £380) when it arrives in May.
So says WinFuture, which has heard from sources at European online retailers than the standard-sized Pixel 3a will be flogged for around half the price of the flagship Pixel 3. However, the site notes that the price quoted is "anything but reliable" and is to be treated with "extreme caution."
WinFuture has also heard that the Pixel 3 will be available in a violet-hued "iris" model, alongside more modest black and white variants.
17/1/19: There's officially nothing left for Google to tell us about the Pixel 3 Lite, as an extensive hands-on video (below) has revealed all there is to know about the "budget" Pixel handset.
Shared by YouTube channel Andro News, the three-and-a-bit-minute clip confirms the handset's 5.56in 2,220x1080 LCD screen, its 12MP rear-facing camera that takes "the same quality photos" as the Pixel 3 and its Snapdragon 670 processor, debunking recent talk of a Snapdragon 710 SoC.
According to the detailed leak, the Pixel 3 Lite XL will also feature 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a 2,915 battery, an 8MP front-facing camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack and, naturally, Google's Android 9.0 Pie OS.
15/1/19: Google's long-rumoured Pixel 3 XL Lite has been benchmarked, confirming its middling Snapdragon 710 CPU. Over on Geekbench, the handset is listed as the "Foxconn Pixel 3 XL" with an "SDM710" chipset, a reference to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 710 SoC clocked at 1.71GHz. The listing shows that the phone will pair this chip with 6GB RAM, more than you'll find inside Google's flagship Pixel 3 XL.
10/12/18: Google is reportedly plotting a heftier version of its Pixel 3 Lite, according to leaked renders shared by OnLeaks and 91mobiles. The so-called Pixel 3 XL Lite - assuming the images are legit - will ditch the notch found on its flagship sibling, and retain the 3.5mm headphone jack. Elsewhere, the handset will pack a 6in Full HD+ display surrounded by sizeable bezels, a single-rear facing camera and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and a polycarbonate chassis, rather than glass and metal.
28/11/18: Just days after it was snapped against the flagship Pixel 3, Google's mid-range Pixel 3 Lite has been stacked up against the iPhone XR. Russian blog Wylsa has posted images (below) of the handset posing next to the Apple's 'mid-range' offering, in turn confirming that the Pixel 3 Lite, with its 5.56in display and top and bottom bezels, will be slightly taller than the 6.1in iPhone XR.
25/11/18: Google's rumoured Pixel 3 Lite has been spotted in the wild yet again, this time cosying up to its Pixel 3 sibling. Russian Twitter user @jc_ru shared the image, which appears to show the Pixel 3 Lite's taller 5.56in display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio next to the Pixel 3's 5.5in screen with 18:9 ratio.
Sargo и Pixel 3 pic.twitter.com/FOJQY7qp1k— kzkv (@jc_ru) November 23, 2018
According to earlier rumours, the Pixel 3 Lite - codenamed 'Sargo' - features a Snapdragon 670 processor paired with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage, a 12.2MP main camera and the same 2,915mAh battery as the Pixel 3.
22/11/18: Some Pixel 3 owners are complaining that their spanking-new smartphone can't be bootloader unlocked, even if purchased directly from Google. Specifically, over on the XDA Developers forum, owners of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are moaning that the "OEM unlocking" toggle within Developer Options is greyed out.
While Google hasn't yet commented, some are speculating that the Google Store could be shipping Verizon models by mistake; typically, devices purchased directly from the firm are easily unlockable, while those bought from Verizon - the exclusive US carrier for all Pixel models - cannot.
It's likely Google will push out a software fix; a similar issue affected Pixel 2 handsets last year, but users were required to perform a factory reset.
20/11/18: Pixel 3 owners are reporting yet another software glitch, and this one is disabling the smartphone's 'world-class' camera. Over on Google's forums and Reddit, users are complaining that a bug is preventing them from using the camera app; some are seeing a 'fatal error' pop-up, while others are getting a 'can't connect to camera' message in third-party apps. Users say that rebooting the device only temporarily fixes the glitch, and others say it even persists if you factory-reset the Pixel 3 Google hasn't yet said whether a fix is coming.
19/11/18: Google looks to be prepping a mid-range version of the Pixel 3 complete with plastic chassis and 3.5mm headphone jack, according to photos obtained by Rozetked. The leak suggests that the so-called Pixel 3 Lite, codenamed 'Sargo', will sport a 5.5in 2,220x1080 LCD screen, a Snapdragon 670 SoC, 4GB RAM and 32GB built-in storage, down from the 64GB included with the flagship Pixel 3.
The photo also appears to show that the bottom front-facing speaker has been axed, and instead replaced by a bottom-firing speaker. However, Rozetked claims the handset will feature the same camera setup as the regular Pixel 3; and the added bonus of a headphone jack.
15/11/18: Google has promised that a fix is coming for a bug that is causing text messages to vanish for Pixel 3 and 3 XL owners. Those affected think the firm's latest Android security update might be to blame, but others say that their messages vanished sometime last month. Either way, the glitch should be fixed shortly, with Google saying in a statement: "We recently discovered a bug affecting SMS/MMS on a small number of Pixel 3s and are rolling out a fix soon."
14/11/18: Yet another bug is irking owners of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. After reports of disappearing photos, users are now complaining that text messages are vanishing after installing Google's latest security patch. According to one user on Reddit, via Android Police, two years' worth of messages were wiped after the update was installed, and it sounds like Google doesn't have any answers just yet.
According to Android Police and several users on Reddit, text messages began disappearing from users' inboxes shortly after the security patch was installed. One Redditor reportedly lost over two years worth of messages, with only recently created message threads showing up. Upon contacting support, several users were told that Google was aware of the issue and that they were working on it. It is unlikely that the Messages app is at fault, considering that older Pixels and the XL variant are free from the issue.
12/11/18: The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are suffering from an overheating issue that's causing the handsets to completely shut down while on charge. As reported by 9to5Google, users have taken to social media to complain about the borkage, moaning that the issue triggered when the phone is performing an action while being juiced.
Users are flung a notification informing them that the "Phone is getting warm" and that some features will be "limited while phone cools down", followed by a slowdown in charging speed. For some, the will shut down entirely, with a "Phone turned off due to heat" message showing once it restarts.
Google has yet to comment on the issue.
30/10/18: A weird, but also hilarious bug is equipping Pixel 3 XL handsets with, er, two notches (below).
As reported by Android Police, several users have noticed a bug which randomly adds a side-mounted notch to the Pixel 3 XL's display. Thankfully, according to Reddit users who've experienced the glitch, the virtual notch does disappear after a restart of the device.
Google is aware of the problem too, telling Android Police that a fix for the issue is "coming soon".
24/10/18: The Pixel 3 and 3 XL only support fast wireless charging on Google-approved accessories, it's been revealed. Android Police reports that only the official Google Pixel Stand supports fast 10W wireless charging, while third-party products are stuck on slower 5W charging speeds, even if they are 10W capable.
It got the scoop from a miffed Pixel 3 owner who recently purchased a 10W Anker charger that it was only clocking 5W speeds. Anker confirmed the bad news, saying that their testing attributed the downgraded capabilities to a restriction put in place by Google.
"Google's official wireless charger can provide 10W for the newly-released Pixel 3 and Pixel XL 3, however, according to our quality engineer, Pixel sets a limitation for third-party charging accessories and we are afraid that even our fast wireless charger can only provide 5W for these 2x devices," the accessory maker said.
Google subsequently confirmed it, too, but said in a statement that it's working with parents to get fast 10W chargers certified for use with the Pixel 3.
23/10/18: Just days after it was revealed that Google's Pixel 3 smartphones suffer from a photo-deleting bug (below), users are complaining that the speakers on the 3 XL are producing buzzing or distorted sound. The issue, which appears confined to Google's larger flagship, is affecting a large number of users, who suggest that low-to-mid-range frequencies are especially problematic.
"So I absolutely LOVE my new pixel 3 XL but there seems to be a fuzzyness to the speakers on it," one Reddit user wrote. "It sounds like almost an electric distortion, noticed it from day one."
Another moaned: "My speaker sounds like shit at low volume, almost like a buzzing at the bottom one and the sound is different depending on how I touch the back glass."
Google has yet to comment, but users are speculating that the issue is hardware-related, which means a replacement device might be the only solution.
22/10/18: Early adopters of Google's Pixel 3 and 3 XL are complaining that there's an issue with the Camera app not saving pictures. The issue - which had also been affecting Pixel 2 and 2 XL devices, according to a Reddit thread - occurs when a user takes a photo with Google Camera and switches to another app or locks the handset immediately after. Some users speculate that the bug is related to the Android Doze battery saving feature, as disabling that seems to have solved the problem for a couple of people. Google has yet to comment on the bug.
18/10/18: Google has spoken out about the new Titan M security chip inside its Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones. In a post on its blog, the firm explains that the chip is derived from the Titan chip used in Google Cloud data centres, in a bid to bring "tamper-resistant" hardware security to its latest flagships.
The Titan M is integrated into the Verified Boot process, Google explains, which prevents malicious attacks from moving your device to an outdated version of Android attempting to unlock the bootloader. It secures the lock screen, too, and only after a successful verification will the Titan M allow for decryption. Titan M is also used to secure transactions in third-party apps.
In the case of third-party apps, the Titan M, apps can now take advantage of StrongBox KeyStore APIs to generate and store private keys in Titan M.
"The Google Pay team is actively testing out these new APIs to secure transactions", Google said, noting that for apps that rely on user interaction, Titan M enables Android 9 Protected Confirmation - making it the first device to do so.
17/10/18: The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL were announced last week and, naturally, iFixit has been quick to tear them apart. Most interestingly, the teardown reveals that Google's larger flagship sports a Samsung-made AMOLED screen, confirmation that LG has - unsurprisingly - been dumped as the firm's display supplier. Elsewhere, the iFixit team came across the new Google Titan M Security chip, the same Pixel Visual Core as the Pixel 2 XL's. Overall, the teardown team slapped the Pixel 3's construction - which included "copious amounts of glue" with a lacklustre reparability score of four out of 10.
9/10/18: Google has surprised no one with the launch of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, which are, er, exactly what you were expecting.
The Android Pie duo sport 5.5in 1080x2160 and 6.3in 1440x2960 OLED displays, respectively, up from the 5in and 6in screens found on last year's Google flagships. The Pixel 3 XL also sports a hefty iPhone X-a-like notch for the first time, while the Pixel 3 opts for an old-school bezelled display instead.
The notch has been introduced to house the handsets' dual front-facing cameras, which comprise of standard and wide-angle lenses. Around the back, however, Google has stuck with a single 12.2MP camera, bucking the industry trend of dual, and in some cases triple-lens setups.
While that might sound somewhat lacklustre on paper, Google's claims its new 'Night Sight' feature - which will arrive as a software update later this year - will capture natural-looking photos in the dark without a flash and will be rolling out as part of a software update later this year.
Under the hood, both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL pack Qualcomm's 10nm Snapdragon 845 processor, paired Google's new Titan M security chip, 4GB RAM and a choice of 64GB or 128GB built-in storage. The two handsets also support wireless charging for the first time, and Google is introducing its own charging stand - the Pixel Stand - as an optional accessory.
Design-wise, the new Pixels don't look too dissimilar from last year's models, and both offer the same IP68 certification as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. However, Google has introduced a new 'Not Pink' model for its, er, new pink-coloured handset. This will be offered alongside 'Just Black' and 'Clearly White' models.
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score