Pixel 3a Spec Breakdown

Spec lists can be daunting to look at, or even downright confusing. What do all these numbers and letters mean? Well I’m here to go through the spec list, piece by piece, and make sense of it all for you.

Operating system: The latest Android 9.0 Pie

What’s so significant about pie? Besides it being the greatest desert of all time, it also happens to be the name of Google’s latest Android Operating System. Google names all the android versions after deserts (or snacks), moving sequentially through the alphabet. Android 8.0 was Oreo, 9.0 is Pie, you get the idea. This phone comes out of the box with the latest Android operating system. Not all phone manufacturers promise that. this is the benefit of buying a Google branded phone. It means the latest features, fresh security, and a very new experience.

Display: Full-screen 5.6″ or 6.0″ display

Phone display sizes are measured from corner to corner. So, the Pixel 3a has a 5.6″ screen from bottom corner to opposite top corner and the Pixel 3a XL has a 6.0″ display from the same points.

Cameras: 12.2 MP dual-pixel

At first glance, “dual-pixel” can seem like quite the techy buzzword, it is, however, a useful innovation in camera technology. Basically, Megapixels are the amount of sensors behind the lens responsible for capturing light and thus producing the picture you see when you push the camera button. “Dual-pixels” effectively multiply the amount of sensors by two. Turning each sensor area into two separate entities. This allows for more information and more importantly, more light, to be in the scene. This allows for better night photos. So, “dual-pixel” basically helps you get better night shots!

Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 670

Snapdragon is a processor product line by the company Qualcomm. A processor is the brain of your phone. Responsible for launching apps and making sure your phone is running quickly and efficiently. The 670 is a mid-ranged, almost year old processor. So it is not the latest and greatest. This is the reason why the Pixel 3a is a “cheaper” phone. This processor will, however, still allow you to perform all your basic tasks without any stuttering.

Memory: 4 GB LPDDR4X RAM

Contrary to what you might think, “memory” does not mean the amount of space on your phone for music, movies, and photos. “Memory” in this case is referring to RAM. RAM is responsible for your apps launching quickly. It’s kind of like a short term memory for your phone, remembering what apps are running, and keeping those ready to go when you need them. The more RAM you have, the more apps you can have running in the background before your phone slows down.

Dimensions & weight: Pixel 3a: 6.0″ x 2.8″ x 0.3″ | Pixel 3a XL: 6.3″ x 3.0″ x 0.3″

Pretty self explanatory. These are the sizes of the phones.

Colours: Clearly White, Just Black, Purple-ish

This is the colour selection for the Pixel 3a line. Google likes to use fun names for their colours as opposed to just saying “white, black, and purple.” Don’t be intimidated by these names.

Media & Audio: Stereo speakers

This spec is a little misleading. There ARE stereo speakers (meaning left side and right side audio), but one is on the bottom of the phone by the charge port while the other is just the earpiece speaker. This is not an ideal “stereo speaker” setup as the earpiece speaker is quite weak and the other speaker is firing in the wrong direction. Still though, better than nothing I suppose.

BatteryPixel 3a: 3000 mAh battery

Pixel 3a XL: 3700 mAh battery

This is the battery capacity rating of these two phones. In most cases, the higher the number the better, however, some phones draw more battery power and some draw less. You shouldn’t then judge a phone’s battery life solely on the mAh rating. You should wait for reviewers to test the battery life and find out how much time they can get on the battery.

Wireless and location: Wi-Fi 2.4GHz + 5GHz + Bluetooth® 5.0

When it comes to Wi-Fi connection, you want a phone to be capable of a 5GHz connection. This is faster, more reliable, and has more range.

Bluetooth 5.0 is the newest version of bluetooth. Bluetooth is a hardware feature used for wireless connection between devices. This is often used for wireless audio streaming or file sharing. Having the latest version is good because you get better power efficiency and longer range.

SensorsActive Edge™

This is a feature exclusive to Google Pixel phones and a few others. What this means is that you can squeeze the phone to activate the Google Assistant. Kind of a gimmicky feature, but also somewhat useful. This is not something you should be concerned with having when making your purchase decision.

Ports: USB-C

USB-C is definitely something you want. Most phones nowadays have it but there are a few cheap phones that still have yet to include it. It’s a faster, more reliable, and versatile connector used for charging and plugging accessories into your phone.


AR stands for Augmented Reality. The Pixel phones come with special hardware to help them handle Augmented reality tasks. Basically, according to Google itself, “ARCore enables your phone to sense its environment, understand the world and interact with information” so your phone will be better able to handle Augmented Reality. Not really a deal breaker at this point as this is very early stage technology, but it’s nice to have.

There is a lot of information involved in deciding what phone to purchase. The things to remember are that the newer the processor the better, get the most RAM you can, expandable storage (for storing music, movies, etc), and a USB-C charging port. Manufacturers will try and sell you on all kinds of exclusive, gimmicky features that make their phone seem more amazing and better than the competition. Just stick to the basics. Get what you need at the best price you can. That’s basically how you beat the system.

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