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  • Cheryl Tan

Google Pixel 3a XL Review: A Phone That Costs Half The Price, But Performs Almost As Well

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Written by Cheryl Tan


We’ve had our hands on the mid-range version of the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Google Pixel 3a XL (SG$779), for about a week now so let’s take a look at how the phone performs. The full spec list will be available at the end of this article.

Some quick specs to start off, the 3a XL is utilising a Snapdragon 670 octa-core processor, and comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Some features such as the Active Edge squeezable sides have been retained, but others like water resistance, wide angle selfies and wireless charging have been lost.

Off the bat, the biggest changes visually are the thick bezels present on the 3a XL, along with the polycarbonate back. While it’s a reasonable tradeoff, I do think that the bezels are a little thick, and could have been made thinner for a bigger screen size.

The plastic back does feel less premium, but not having a glass back can be a plus point for people who are prone to dropping their phones since that’s one less breakable surface.

That said, the front-facing camera is the same, except the wide angle lens for selfies has been removed.

The rear camera is also the same one that’s present in the 3 XL, but the image processing chip, Pixel Visual Core, has been removed in the 3a and 3a XL, resulting in (perhaps) different image processing choices between the phones and a slight delay in photos being processed after the shutter button has been tapped.

I have to say, however, the Night Sight mode is still excellent on the 3a XL. Night Sight has preserved more detail and lightened the darkest parts of the photo, as seen in the comparison above. This feature was a major plus on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, so it’s good to see that it’s still retained in the mid-range versions of those phones.

The battery life for the 3a XL is very decent, going down 14% after an hour of watching continuous YouTube videos. While playing PUBG Mobile with all the graphics settings turned to maximum, the battery drain was 30% for 3 games, lasting a total of 105 minutes.

Speaking of games, the 4GB RAM ensured that the game ran buttery smooth even with anti-aliasing and the graphics all turned up. No stuttering or glitches happened at all, even if we ran a game with Spotify in the background.

That said, there were a few moments when it felt a hair slower than the Pixel 3 XL. Notably when unlocking the phone via the fingerprint reader at the back, and when taking a photo. But again, it was just a little slower, not something you would notice if you didn’t have the Pixel 3 XL to compare it to.

Google recently announced an update to Google Assistant, allowing it to understand and reply in Simplified Chinese. This is a huge plus to Mandarin speakers, and we tested out the feature, check it out below.

I believe Google has hit a mid-range home run with this phone. Anybody who wanted to buy a Pixel phone before but was deterred by the high asking price will definitely be tempted now. At SG$779, the Pixel 3a XL offers a ton of value while giving up very little in order to achieve the price point.

The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL are available from Google, Singtel, COURTS and Challenger.


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