Test Google Pixel 3a, the best photophone for less than 400 €

Presentation

LesPixel 3etPixel 3 XL do not meet a monstrous success, and this, despite certain qualities. Maybe the top end of the market is still a bit high for Google. A few months after their launch, the Mountain View firm offers us a more accessible version of its flagship products with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. The first of the two is launched at 399 €. With this price, it will have to compete with good smartphones like theXiaomi Mi 9 SE or the Samsung Galaxy A50.

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Pixel 3a next to Pixel 3.

Ergonomics and design

Google Pixel 3 is not considered the most attractive smartphone. The American manufacturer preferred to focus on the performance of its flagship rather than its design. The Pixel 3a, whose look seems to be straight out of 2015, has been redesigned. In fact, this appearance far from the current guns may well be the biggest handicap of this smartphone.

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An 5.6-inch screen framed with wide borders.

Si the quality of the assembly of this Pixel 3a does not suffer from any problem, the choice of materials is much less happy than for the Pixel 3. Here, the plastic has taken the place of glass and the printing in hand is affected. The 3a is more imposing than the Pixel 3, yet it is lighter. Beyond this less premium print in hand, the Pixel 3a remains relatively pleasant with a back with curved edges that hugs the hand properly.

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La bottom edge is particularly wide.

C 'is at the front that the impression of facing a 4-year-old smartphone is the most striking. The Pixel 3 kept wide borders above and below its screen, but the Pixel 3a does even worse. The screen occupies only 75% of the front of the smartphone. A rather mediocre score when most competitors manage to exceed 84%. As a result, the Pixel 3a is rather unwieldy with one hand. It's a pity, because with its 5.6 inches (14.22 cm) diagonal, the screen of the Pixel 3a is one of the "small screens".

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plastic back of the Pixel 3a.

We would have liked the space under the screen to be devoted to the reception of the fingerprint reader or a loudspeaker. This is not the case. The first is located on the back and falls easily under the tip of the index finger when the smartphone is held in the hand. It works smoothly. For the speakers, Pixel 3a places one on the front of the top of the screen, while the second is placed on the lower edge. At least the Google terminal can be congratulated for not having abandoned the 3.5 mm mini-jack socket or the USB-C port.

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An USB-C port and stereo speakers.

Parmi the concessions made by Google, the Pixel 3a does not benefit from any waterproof certification. A feature that is still too rare in the non high-end segments.

Screen

Google Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch Oled screen with a resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 px. This is enough to offer a resolution of 441 dpi, more than sufficient for all uses. Like all Oled screens, the Pixel 3a screen benefits from an almost infinite contrast ratio. This display knows how to remain correctly readable in full sunlight with a maximum brightness of 450 cd/m² and a light reflection rate of 48%, in the average of our comparison. In the dark, the luminosity can go down to 1.6 cd/m², allowing a consultation without being dazzled.

Du Besides colorimetry, Pixel 3a is an excellent student as well. However, it is necessary to go to the display parameters and choose the "natural" mode to obtain the best results. Under these conditions, we measure a delta E at 1.5, attesting to perfectly accurate colors. Measured by us at 6,819 K, the color temperature is close to the standard (6,500 K). On this point, Pixel 3a has nothing to envy to its competitors or to Pixel 3.

In In terms of reactivity, the Pixel screen ranks among the good ones. We measured a tactile delay of 77 ms, lower than the average of our comparison (87 ms) and an imperceptible persistence thanks to the Oled technology.

Performances

Autre notable difference between Pixel 3a and Pixel 3: the choice of SoC used. The 3a is based on a Snapdragon 670 that is less robust than the Snapdragon 845 in Pixel 3. A less powerful platform, but which is sufficient for the majority of uses of an Android smartphone. The Pixel 3a knows how to remain perfectly fluid in almost all circumstances. Only very demanding applications will be able to upset this beautiful balance somewhat.

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Températures recorded after 10 min of FHD video recording.

Les mobile gamers will be properly served by Pixel 3a. Its Adreno 615 graphics chip is capable of running all the titles in the Play Store without any problem. It will be necessary to consent to small adjustments of the level of graphics for the very greedy 3D games, but on the whole the performance is solid.

Audio

La 3.5 mm mini-jack plug could be placed on the endangered species list. However, the Pixel 3a resists temptation and retains this analog connection. This headphone output even looks pretty good overall. The power reading is certainly not the highest we have seen, but it is sufficient for the majority of nomadic helmets. The distortion remains very discreet, while the dynamic range is quite wide. Finally, Pixel 3a manages to reproduce the stereo scene better than average.

Pixel 3a has stereo speakers. The first one is placed on the front and is also used for communications. The second is positioned on the lower edge. Together they provide good work and a fairly wide stage. You will have to be careful not to push them to their maximum so as not to hear an unpleasant saturation at the top of the spectrum.

Photo

Les Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were real photographic UFOs at the end of 2018. When Google presented its 3a and 3a XL saying that they would be just as good, we were both curious and circumspect. Indeed, the success of Pixel smartphones in photography is mainly due to the quality and power of image processing obtained by the manufacturer. Such processing requires a good dose of computation, and that's why Pixel 3 smartphones come with a dedicated Visual Core. The Pixel 3a uses the same main photo module and announces the same skills, but it does not include this famous dedicated chip. Everything relies on Google's ability to work directly with the SoC Snapdragon 670.Spoiler alert: the bet is made.

Module main: 12 Mpx, 27 mm, f/1,8

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main module of the Pixel 3a is based on a 12 MP sensor and an equivalent 27 mm stabilized optics opening at f/1.8. And in broad daylight, the result is simply excellent. The level of detail is high, the shots are contrasted and the colors rather natural. There is a slight loss of sharpness at the edges of the images, but overall the Pixel 3a does as well as the Pixel 3, and therefore much better than its direct competitors.

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Quand the light comes down, here again, the Pixel 3a reproduces almost the same behavior as the Pixel 3. Google remains one of the best in this exercise and manages to keep the right balance between electronic noise, smoothing and accentuation to provide very satisfying images. Here again, Pixel 3a outperforms its direct competitors.

Mode nuit

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night vision" mode is on the game and is as bluffing as on Pixel 3. By freehand, it manages to recover a lot of light and to erase a maximum of electronic noise. On the other hand, it can always be reproached for systematically applying the same white balance, sometimes causing the scene to lose the balance of the scene as our eyes see it.

Mode portrait, front module and vidéo

À Like its big brothers, the Pixel 3a offers a rather good portrait mode. Google's software processing proves its prowess by managing to cut out the subjects in a nice way, without the help of a second module. A portrait mode that can also be found on the front, with the 8MP sensor of the front module. The selfies it captures are of a satisfactory level, retaining a good amount of detail without falling into smoothing. The backlight management is excellent.

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An excellent main photo module.

Enfin, video lovers will be happy to have the possibility to record up to UHD definition, and this in a nice way. The duo of optical and electronic stabilization makes it possible to obtain videos that are blank of most micromovements. Focus tracking is particularly effective.

Autonomy

L'autonomy was the small flat in the score of Pixel 3. Too bad that the increase in size of Pixel 3a is not accompanied by a significant increase in its battery capacity. Admittedly, the Pixel 3a does better than its cousin, but it fails at the gates of the 5th star in this category for only a few minutes. On our SmartViser test protocol, the Pixel 3a held for 16 hrs 32 min. To obtain 5 stars, it must hold for at least 16 h 48 min. In practice, Pixel 3a can last two full days in standard use. It won't let go of the more strenuous users until a full day.

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