Google launch budget Pixel phones

10 May 2019   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Google's cheaper versions of their Pixel brand phones known as Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL are now available in the UK.

To make these smartphones more budget friendly than the existing Pixel 3 and 3XL, they're manufactured using plastic instead of metal and glass.

Google are aiming to compete with the mid-range models offered by Android competitors Samsung and Huawei.

Amongst other announcements at the official launch was the upcoming Nest Hub Max, which includes a camera for improved smart home capabilities.

google pixel 3

The new Pixel phones

Without touching the phones themselves, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL look remarkably similar to their top price counterparts, but there are key differences that help to lower the price.

Both the screen and body of the phones are made from plastic rather than the glass and metal used to make the original models.

Equally, the 3a XL isn't as supersized as the 3 XL, with a screen that's only 6 inches compared to the 3 XL's 6.3 inches.

A deal breaker for some might be the single selfie camera which replaces the dual front-facing camera found on the original Pixel 3 and 3 XL.

In addition, the processor on the 3a and 3a XL is the less powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 and there's no wireless charging available on these budget models.

Yet fans of the 3.5mm headphone socket will be pleased to know that it makes a comeback on the budget-friendly Pixel phones.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL represent a move towards the mid-range smartphone market that Google have previously had no presence in.

This is part of expanding their global Pixel brand, with the obvious hope that once customers go to Google, they won't go back to their rivals.

When we considered what 2019 might bring to the smartphone market, cheaper phones didn't factor into it, so it's interesting to see Google take this step.

How do they compare?

Price is the major difference between the original Pixel 3 and 3XL, with the cheaper models costing around half the price of the launch prices of the original Pixel 3s.

That said, in our review of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, we noted that the prices of the flagship phones have settled to £590 and £720 respectively for the 64GB models.

So, while the £399 and £469 price tags of the 3a and 3a XL certainly represent a drop for customers on a budget, it isn't as steep as the advertising might suggest.

Pay monthly customers might find the prices of the budget models more accessible too, with retailers pricing them according to their reduced camera capabilities and processing power.

At the time of writing, EE are the only major network to have the 3a and 3a XL listed on their site, and they're offering a Google Home Hub as an incentive to customers.

The monthly prices of the 3a and 3a XL are from £25 and £30 respectively. In contrast, the Pixel 3 start from £39 per month and the 3 XL starts from £44.

The new Nest Hub Max

The other major reveal at the Google launch was the Nest Hub Max which features a camera and a larger touchscreen than the previous model, now rebranded as the Nest Home Hub.

Including a camera is expected to be a contentious issue, especially as Google explicitly said they didn't include a camera in the original to make customers more comfortable about their privacy.

Even so, with networks like EE bringing smart technology into their mobile and broadband plans, we can expect to see customers taking the Nest Hub Max regardless of arguments over privacy.

Much of the tech we discussed following CES 2019 includes voice technology, so it's unsurprising to see Google expanding their range and rivals are likely to follow suit.

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Comments (1)

18 August 2019

I'm not sure these prices are really 'budget" :-)

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