Pixel 3a XL: the mid-range mobile with the best camera | Technology


One of the main features in which users are set when choosing a new mobile is in their camera. But it is not always easy to find a model with good performance in this section when the budget is limited. For all of them Google has made the leap to mid-range smartphones with the Pixel 3a: a somewhat decaffeinated edition of its flagship (the Pixel 3 XL that we analyzed for El País Escaparate) that incorporates exactly the same camera, considered one of the best in the market.

Big or small

In particular, it integrates a sensor with a resolution of 12.2 megapixels with aperture f1.8, automatic focus and optical and electronic image stabilizer. On paper, it is nothing remarkable. Its greatest value is in the software that accompanies it, which adds very interesting functions and achieves an image processing at the height of very few terminals no longer in its range, if not with rather higher prices.

The best results are obtained with activated HDR + mode, which achieves a very wide dynamic range without saturating. Thus, when faced with scenes with good lighting the photographs always look sharp, with natural colors and adequate levels. During the night the night mode (Night Sight) enters the scene, capturing several photographs to combine them into a brighter one. The effect is very positive as long as there is some light, avoiding having to increase the exposure time and the ISO and, therefore, also keeping the noise under control.

A Pixel 3a XL loading.
A Pixel 3a XL loading.

And let's talk about the portraits. Google is the clear example that to get photos with bokeh effect is not necessary the presence of two cameras. In this case, we find very correct images in which the defocusing can be adjusted a posteriori: something indispensable, since the device tends to exaggerate it too much.

That said, differences are noted with respect to the reference model, especially as regards processing speed. An example is the night mode named above, for which several seconds are required per capture.

The cuts

What concessions has the Internet giant made to adjust the price? The first one is design. Although at first glance is very similar to his older brother (even with the difference in color and finish on the back), the body is made of plastic instead of glass. It is pleasant to the touch, although the reduction in quality is noted. In addition, it is not water resistant.

We really like that the notch has been removed from your screen. In return, it has huge frames by today's standards. That, together with a very large overall size, makes us think that a better compaction work could have been done. The feeling is the same with the two versions of the smarpthone: the 'normal' with a screen of 5.6 inches, and the XL (which we had a chance to try), with a viewing surface of 6 inches.

With OLED technology, its screen shows contents with FullHD + quality (more than enough), good contrast levels and adequate color reproduction. It would have been interesting to increase the level of brightness a little, since in very sunny environments it is a bit short.

And performance

The last cutout and, the most important in all probability, is the configuration. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor focused on the premium mid-range that is complemented with 4 GB of RAM; very much in line with what was expected. So is the performance, very fluid in virtually all cases but in which a certain delay is perceived when loading heavy applications.

With Android 9 Pie operating system and Pixel Launcher interface, its 3700 mAh battery extends for a day without any problem. In fact, if the use is not very intensive we have managed to extend it to almost two days. It is compatible with the fast charge of 18W, so with 15 minutes plugged into the current it achieves 7 extra hours of autonomy.

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