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Pixel 3a XL review: Great low-light camera performance, durable & cheaper

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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL were incredible camera phones but that did not translate into great sales. Now, with cheaper Pixel 3a and 3aXL, the company aims to give a tough competition to OnePlus which has been dominating the Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000 price segment. The Internet giant decided to stop rebranding its partners' devices as Nexus phones in favour of its own pricey Pixel smartphones in 2016. Pixel 3a and 3aXL are seen as the company's attempt at making a Nexus-priced phone with the same stellar camera as the flagships Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. We used Pixel 3aXL with 64GB onboard storage and 4GB RAM (that costs Rs 44,999) for a couple of days. 


The Pixel 3aXL features the same primary camera as the Pixel 3XL -- a 12.2MP sensor with aperture of f/1.8, dual pixel phase-detection autofocus and optical stabilisation. The pictures were detailed enough with accurate colours sans any over-processing. The camera's dynamic range and low-light performance were great too. The focus tracking in the camera app is worth mentioning which does the basic face detection. If you tap on a subject, the camera will track it even if it moves while the focus and exposure adjust automatically. The front camera misses out on the ultra-wide camera that the Pixel 3 had. There's a single 8MP lens now with 1.12µm (micrometre) pixel width and aperture of f/2.0 with fixed focus and 84 degree field of view. The Pixel 3aXL follows the same design as Pixel 3 with the same two-tone finish, albeit for the polycarbonate unibody look. You may take some time to figure out if the rear side makes use of polycarbonate or glass. However, the use of polycarbonate makes it lighter than the Pixel 3XL. Several phones that cost much lower make use of metal and glass; we would have loved the usage of glass on this one as well. However, the plastic makes the phone more durable. The Pixel 3aXL sports a 6-inch screen with a 1080p OLED display that is protected by Asahi Dragontrail glass instead of Corning Gorilla Glass. The screen is a bit shorter than the Pixel 3XL's display with no support for HDR10, hence making it suitable for regular videos. There's no distractive cut-out or notch on the screen, but there are thick bezels especially at the bottom. The 1080p screen was bright outdoors, with good sunlight legibility and decent viewing angles. The smartphone runs Android 9.0 OS with the same stock Android experience as the pricier Pixel 3. One of the useful features include the "Active Edge" that lets you squeeze the sides of the phone to fire up Google Assistant.


The Pixel 3aXL is fuelled by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset. The software optimisation made it function absolutely smooth. We launched multiple apps and Internet tabs; multitasking was easy. Coming to the audio, with Pixel 3aXL, Google has brought back the 3.5-mm headphone jack that Pixel 3 gave a miss. The device has stereo speakers. However, they are bottom firing this time. The Pixel 3aXL has a bigger 3700mAh battery when compared to the 3430mAh on Pixel 3XL. The mid-range chipset on this one also translates into better battery life. There's support for fast charging with the same 18W fast charger as the Pixel 3XL. Conclusion: We see Pixel 3aXL as a phone that ticks the basic boxes with an incredible camera that we saw on Pixel 3. However, it costs half as much and gives a better battery backup and the same great Pixel camera experience.

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