This article was published on September 30, 2019

Video: Google’s budget Pixel 3a range are the phones it was born to make

Has the search giant finally found its hardware niche?

Pixel 3a
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Google’s Pixel range of devices have quickly established themselves as some of the most popular flagship phones around. They’ve enter that rarified segment of devices populated by the Apple and Samsungs of the world, but — as much as I like them — this has always seemed like a strange fit to me.

There’s no doubting the Pixel 3 is a great phone, but it never felt as premium, polished, or slick as some of the other leading devices in the category. One element of this could be attributed to Google’s image.

One of the key aspects of luxury brands is desirability — in other words, the impression they give of opulence and exclusivity, something people want to be a part of. Apple has this attribute in spades. Google, on the other hand, doesn’t.

This is most likely down to the nature of the company’s business. Rather than being known for making high-end, expensive products, Google provides free services (such as Search and Gmail) that are accessible by all. Due to this, there’ll always be a nagging feeling hanging over Google’s high-end equipment that, maybe, it’s just not as good as the stuff you can get from dedicated hardware makers.

But enter the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.

If you’re unaware, these are entry-level, affordable range of Google’s phones that were launched in May. Starting from $400, the devices have many of the same stand-out features of the company’s flagship devices (a fantastic camera, the best representation of Android, and impressive Google Assistant integration), but clock in at a much lower cost.

On paper, the 3a range seems like the perfect move for Google: a device that’s available to almost everyone, but packed with top quality software features. The question is, does it live up to the hype?

Well, watch our video at the top of the page to find out what we thought of the the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and whether Google has finally found its phone niche.

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