Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL back of the phones

We’ve known about the Google Pixel 3a XL for a while now, but it’s now official. The new mid-range Pixel 3a XL has a lot in common with its older flagship brother, though there are a few key differences that allow it to be priced much more aggressively. 

We already talked about how the Pixel 3a compares to the Pixel 3, now let’s take a look how the Google Pixel 3a XL and Google Pixel 3 XL compare.

Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Design, display, and hardware

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL phones in hand

The Pixel 3a XL and 3 XL have nearly identical designs on the rear, though the Pixel 3a trades the glass design of the Pixel 3 for polycarbonate (aka plastic). This material swap means the Pixel 3a won’t feel quite as premium but it still looks great and actually is likely to be more durable as a result of the design change. Both phones pack the same squeezy Active Edge feature, too. 

The frontside is where the biggest design changes are apparent. The Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and no notch, while the Pixel 3 XL has a larger 18:9 6.3-inch OLED panel with a large notch on top. Those who hated the notch might actually find the Pixel 3a XL’s smaller screen a worthwhile exchange. Both displays have Full HD+ resolution support and both have always-on displays.

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL showing power buttons in hand

Both the Pixel 3s XL and the Pixel 3 XL have 4GB of RAM, but the Pixel 3a XL switches to a more mid-range Snapdragon 670, vs the Snapdragon 845 found in the Pixel 3. While the 670 should be enough for most users, it’s worth noting 4GB of RAM could end up being the bigger bottleneck. Due to the lower than standard RAM levels, the Pixel 3 had task management issues at times. Hopefully, the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t run into the same issues.

Both phones have a base of 64GB of storage and no microSD card slot, though the Pixel 3 XL is also offered in a 128GB model. As for overall size, the Pixel 3a XL is a bit thicker than the Pixel 3 XL, allowing for more battery space. The 3a XL has a 3,700mAh cell while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430mAh cell.

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL with headphone jack

As for the “extras,” the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t have wireless charging capabilities despite its plastic design, and it does not have an IP rating. The pricier Pixel 3 XL has support for Qi wireless charging and an IP68 water resistance rating. The 3a XL does have a headphone jack though, which we’re really happy to see make its return. 

Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Cameras

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL back in hand

The star of the Pixel 3a XL experience is the rear camera, which is identical to the Pixel 3 XL’s 12.2MP rear camera sensor. Other key features include an f/1.8 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, OIS, EIS, and a 76-degree field-of-view. 

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The Pixel 3 XL does offer more around front. It has two 8MP front sensors: one standard lens with a 75-degree field-of-view and an f/1.8 aperture autofocus lens, and one wide-angle sensor with a 97-degree field-of-view and an f/2.2 aperture fixed-focus lens. The Pixel 3a XL has just one 8MP fixed-focus front sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and an 84-degree field of view. So, you won’t be able to squeeze as many people into your selfies as you would with the Pixel 3 XL.

One of the best parts about the Pixel series is that Google has historically given free original-quality Google Photos storage away with its devices. This remains true for the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3. Unfortunately the Pixel 3a XL doesn’t offer this perk. That means photos uploaded to Google Photos on the free tier will be capped at 1080p.

Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL specs:

 Google Pixel 3a XLGoogle Pixel 3 XL specs
Display6-inch gOLED
2,160 x 1,080 resolution
402ppi
18:9 aspect ratio
Dragon Trail
6.3-inch flexible OLED
2,960 x 1,440 resolution
523ppi
18.5:9 screen ratio
Gorilla Glass 5
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 670Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
GPUAdreno 615Adreno 630
RAM4GB4GB
Storage64GB
No microSD slot
64GB, 128GB
No microSD slot
CamerasRear: 12.2MP f/1.8 sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, OIS and EIS, spectral and flicker sensor

Front:
8MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12µm pixels, fixed focus, 84-degree field-of-view
Rear: 12.2MP f/1.8 sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, OIS and EIS, spectral and flicker sensor

Front:
Main: 8MP standard angle (75 degree FOV) f/1.8 auto-focus sensor
Secondary: 8MP wide-angle (97 degree FOV) f/2.2 fixed-focus sensor
Headphone jackYesNo
Battery3,700mAh3,430mAh
Wireless charging
IP ratingNo IP ratingIP68
Other featuresDual front-facing speakers, Active Edge, USB Type-C, single nano-SIMDual front-facing speakers, Active Edge, USB Type-C, single nano-SIM
Software versionAndroid 9 PieAndroid 9 Pie
ColorsJust Black, Clearly White, Purple-ishJust Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Dimensions and weight160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2mm
167g
158.0 x 76.7 x 7.9mm
184g

Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 XL: Price

Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel 3a XL with notch

The price is clearly the biggest selling point for the Pixel 3a XL. While the Pixel 3 XL is offered for a steep $899 (on sale now for $799), the Pixel 3a XL goes for just $479. That’s not a bad price at all, considering the fact that you’re getting a similarly great overall experience.

Of course, there are a lot of other phones on the market from brands including OnePlus and Xiaomi that offer better performance for a similar price tag, which might make the Pixel 3a XL a bit harder of a sell. Ultimately the biggest draws for the Pixel 3A XL are the promise of fast Android updates and the fact it offers one of the best mobile cameras money can buy.

Thoughts? Obviously, the Pixel 3 XL is the better phone overall, but would you pick up a Pixel 3a XL if you were in the market for a ~$500 smartphone? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our other Pixel 3a XL coverage below.

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