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Digital Subscriptions > Stuff > July 2019 > Blinded by the Lites

Blinded by the Lites

Who needs to spend a grand on a phone when these stripped-back, affordable versions of flagships can do (almost) the same stunning jobs?

Google Pixel 3a

What’s the story?

The Pixel 3a is a handset shorn of gimmicks: there’s just the one rear snapper; it’s made from (gasp) plastic instead of glass and metal; and you won’t need a bank loan to buy one. Also rather amazing is the fact that Google has brought back the headphone port.

Is it any good?

There’s no doubt the 3a looks basic with its somewhat beefy screen bezels. The design decisions make sense, though. Google has gone for function, not fashion. There’s also a quick, reliable physical fingerprint sensor instead of in-display scanning.

The 3a has the same 12.2MP rear snapper as the Pixel 3, with an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and dual-pixel autofocus – great hardware, but on the face of it little has changed since the Pixel 2 back in 2017. The major changes are in the software, though, and the difference made here is astounding. No other phone captures as much fine detail as a Pixel. Exposure is almost always accurate, the multi-shot HDR processing creating lifelike images regardless of lighting.

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