Having said that, the Pixel 3a XL is the larger of the two, and we thought it may be helpful to some of you to compare that phone to the Pixel 3 XL, just to see if the price difference is worth getting Google’s flagships.
We don’t usually compare flagship and mid-range smartphones, but in this instance, it does seem like a good idea. So, let’s get started, first in line is the spec comparison.
These two phones feature an extremely similar back side, almost identical, in fact, though the front side is a different story. That’s not all, though, as the Google Pixel 3 XL combines metal with a small piece of glass on the back, while the Pixel 3a XL is made out of plastic. Due to that fact, the Pixel 3a XL is lighter, it weighs 167 grams compared to Pixel 3 XL’s 184 grams. That’s not a huge difference, but there you have it.
Both phones include a regular, capacitive fingerprint scanner on the back, along with a single camera, and an LED flash. Google’s logo is also placed on the back, though it’s quite discrete, it doesn’t pop out. The Pixel 3 XL features thinner bezels on the front, but it also has a huge display notch, which makes it look… well, odd is a nice word for it. Both devices feature stereo speakers, and those speakers are noticeable above and below the display.
The Pixel 3a XL does not have a display notch, or a display hole, but it has noticeable bezels above and below the display. Those bezels are not too thick, but they’re not exactly in line with modern smartphones, that’s for sure. Both phones include rounded display corners. These two handsets are similar in terms of dimensions, the Pixel 3a XL is a bit taller despite a smaller display, but it’s also narrower, and thicker.
Truth be said, the Pixel 3a XL looks better to the eye as it doesn’t have that huge notch, but the Pixel 3 XL offers a more premium build. If you’re looking for a more sturdy build, go with the Pixel 3 XL, but that notch is simply too ugly to proclaim that device a winner in this category.
These two phones have a similar display size, but considerably different displays, and a different display aspect ratio. Both of these phones come with OLED panels, the Pixel 3 XL includes a P-OLED unit, while the Pixel 3a XL sports a regular OLED panel.
The Pixel 3 XL features a 6.3-inch QHD+ (2960 x 1440) display, which equals to an 18.5:9 display aspect ratio. The Pixel 3a XL, on the other hand, includes a 6-inch fullHD+ (2160 x 1080) display with an 18:9 display aspect ratio.
Both of these displays are really good, if we’re being honest, but the Pixel 3a XL’s panel is inferior here, for sure. Not only does the Pixel 3 XL’s display offers much higher resolution, but it also looks better to the eye. Both displays do offer those deep blacks that we’ve come to expect out of OLED displays, and both feature really nice contrast and punchy colors as part of it.
The Pixel 3 XL’s display is protected by a sheet of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5, while the Pixel 3a XL offer Asahi’s Dragontrail Glass protection. The Gorilla Glass 5 is a more prominent name in the industry, but Asahi’s products are also quite solid and have been included on a number of phones thus far. All things considered, this category goes to the Pixel 3 XL.
Winner: Google Pixel 3 XL
It’s not exactly a secret that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL had a number of performance-related issues since they were announced last year. Google managed to patch up most of those issues over time, however, so the two devices now finally perform almost as they should.
There is quite a difference in terms of internal hardware, between these two phones. The Pixel 3 XL comes with the Snapdragon 845 64-bit octa-core processor, which was Qualcomm’s flagship for last year, while the Pixel 3a XL includes an inferior Snapdragon 670 64-bit octa-core chip. The Pixel 3a XL’s processor is actually one of Qualcomm’s better mid-range chips, but it’s inferior to the company’s Snapdragon 7XX series of processors.
Both phones include 4GB of RAM on the inside, and it’s worth noting that the Pixel 3a XL has much less pixels to push when the display is on due to a lower-res display. Taking all that into consideration, the Pixel 3 XL does look better on paper, and it is faster in real life as well.
It takes the Pixel 3a XL an extra couple of seconds to process images shot with its camera, while it’s also slower in other areas, such as opening apps and multitasking. Not by a lot, but the Pixel 3 XL does come out on top here.
Winner: Google Pixel 3 XL
Battery life on the Google Pixel 3 XL surely isn’t great, and we only used the Pixel 3a XL for a couple of days, but it’s safe to say that it offers better battery life than Google’s flagship. This is not exactly surprising considering the hardware that we’re working here.
The Pixel 3 XL comes with a smaller battery, despite the fact it has a larger display which offers much higher resolution. The Pixel 3 XL includes a 6.3-inch QHD+ display, with a 3,430mAh battery, while the Pixel 3a XL is equipped with a 3,700mAh unit for its 6-inch fullHD+ display.
On top of that, the Pixel 3a XL is equipped with the Snapdragon 670, which consumes less battery than the Snapdragon 845. Both of these chips are 10nm processors, but the Snapdragon 670 is less powerful, and bit more power efficient as a result of everything.
When it comes to charging, these two phones are pretty much identical, at least as far as wired charging is concerned. Both phones include 18W fast wired charging, though the Pixel 3 XL comes with wireless charging, while the Pixel 3a XL does not. All in all, the Pixel 3a XL wins this category, as it offers more endurance in the battery life department.
Winner: Google Pixel 3a XL
The two devices are pretty much equal in this category. Both units come equipped with the same 12.2-megapixel camera, it’s completely identical on both devices, right down to the lens attached on it.
When compared, the images turn out pretty much identical, there’s nothing separating these two cameras. You’re getting Pixel 3 XL’s Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3a XL, and even though it takes the Pixel 3a XL a bit longer to process that image, the two phones are the same in terms of image quality.
The Pixel 3 XL does have an upper hand when it comes to selfies, though, as it is equipped with two cameras which work great together, while the Pixel 3a XL includes a single camera on the front. Google’s software does help that camera perform, though, and in both cases, front-facing camera(s) are quite capable, though the Pixel 3 XL does have an upper hand here.
Even though the Pixel 3 XL offers better selfies than the Pixel 3a XL, we’ll call this one a tie, simply because they offer completely identical results when the rear-facing camera is concerned, and that’s what the vast majority of you care about.
Before we get to the conclusion itself, let’s just mention that the Pixel 3 XL does not include a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the Pixel 3a XL does. We’ve already mentioned that both devices include stereo speakers, so you’re covered in that regard.
All things considered, the Pixel 3 XL is a winner of this comparison, though that was to be expected considering it’s a flagship device. The question is, is it worth the huge price difference? Well, the answer to that question is - no. Taking prices from the Google Store into consideration, the Pixel 3 XL is $420 more expensive than the Pixel 3 XL, you can almost purchase two Pixel 3a XL’s for one Pixel 3 XL.
Google’s flagship is definitely not that much better, its main selling point is its camera, and the Pixel 3a XL has that, so… we’d recommend you get the more affordable model, if its mid-range tag is acceptable to you.
Winner: Google Pixel 3 XL