Why the Pixel 3a is a better deal than it seems

Promotional photo by Google

Mid-range phones in the $200-$300 range have gotten crazy good over the past few years.

Some would say it started back in the day with the Oneplus One. For just $300, it brought flagship specs like the then-latest Snapdragon 801 chipset and 3GB of ram to consumers. While Oneplus’s prices have slowly crept up since then, other manufacturers have stepped up to the plate, with companies like Xiaomi, Realme, Asus, and most recently Samsung offering solid options in this price bracket.

My Pocophone has served me well thus far.

Perhaps the most outstanding example in recent times would be the Pocophone F1 from Xiaomi, the first true “budget flagship” since the Oneplus Two. Realme has also brought very capable phones at reasonable prices to the Indian market, like the speedy Realme 2 Pro and Realme 3 Pro. Most recently, Samsung has also leaped into the fray with their A-series of mid-range smartphones. The A50 is a great option with a fairly powerful processor for the price, a large AMOLED display and more cameras than are really necessary.

These phones feature speedy processors, great battery life and decent cameras, compromising on things like display type or build quality. And here come the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, offering less RAM, smaller displays and dated designs (seriously, those bezels gotta go). For an additional $100 to $200 of your change.

It doesn’t look good for Google’s new additions to the Pixel family. For non-US markets, that might be true, with several manufacturers fighting to release the most well-specced mid-range devices at prices that firmly undercut Google’s.

In the US though… there’s really no other options, as mid-range choices in the US are much more limited than in the rest of the world. Your best choice for under $300 would be the Moto G7 or Nokia 6.1, which pale in comparison to the aforementioned mid-range powerhouses. Unfortunately, a lot of these 'flagship killers' are meant for Asian markets and don’t offer full support for US bands, meaning that your coverage may be spotty, or worse still, non-existent. It may be worth a shot if you’re on a GSM carrier, but otherwise you’re out of luck.

If you also take into consideration the fact that the Pixel 3a and 3a XL (I’m tired of this, I’ll call them the Pixel Lites henceforth) are no longer Verizon exclusives, they could well become the new power couple of midrange smartphones in the States.

Promotional photo by Google

Starting at $399 and $479 respectively, the new Pixel Lites bring the full prowess of the famous Pixel 3 camera at a much lower price, while having respectable performance courtesy of the Snapdragon 670. There simply isn’t much competition here: funnily enough, the existing Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (along with other last-gen flagships) might be the Pixel Lites’ great threat.

Asides from that, it seems the new duo are poised to take over the mid-range smartphone market in the US.