Update, April 18, 2019 (02:06 PM): We appear to have our first look at official renders of the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL, via Android Headlines. We also have some new info regarding a potential release date for the devices as well as a new carrier partnership. See below for more info!
Original article, February 8, 2019 (10:30 AM ET): While there has been speculation for years about Google launching more affordable versions of its high-end Pixel smartphones, it appears the company is now actively developing two such handsets, and they could launch soon. These phones will reportedly be branded the Google Pixel 3 Lite and Google Pixel 3 XL Lite, or the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL (we use both throughout this article), and are tipped to include the same great camera hardware as the standard Pixel 3 phones.
Here’s a look at everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. Keep in mind that Google has not confirmed it is even working on these phones, so treat these rumors with caution. We will update this article as more reliable reports about these phones are published.
Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite: Release date and price
In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) listed two unannounced Google phones with model numbers G020C and G020G: these are likely to be the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite.
Meanwhile, news from Android Police in December suggested these phones would launch sometime this spring — a claim that has some clout, according to a later 9to5Google story.
On April 15, Google posted a teaser image that heavily suggests we’ll see the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL debut at Google I/O 2019 during the keynote address. If this is true, we’ll get our first official look at the devices on May 7.
Android Police also claimed, like all the previous Pixel phones, the Lite handsets will be sold through Verizon Wireless in the U.S. However, at this stage, it’s not clear if Verizon will be the exclusive U.S. carrier, as it has been for all the previous Pixel phone launches. There’s a very credible rumor that T-Mobile will also sell the Pixel 3a lineup.
It’s also very likely Google itself will sell both phones as unlocked devices directly from the Google Store and from its Google Fi network.
There’s been no official word on what the prices will be like for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, although the Russian site Rozetked claims the cost will be between $400 and $500. Keep in mind the standard Google Pixel 3 starts at $799, so we can expect the Lite models to be much less than that when they are first introduced.
Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite: Hardware specs
According to Rozetked, which first leaked images of an alleged Google Pixel 3 Lite prototype in November 2018, the standard version will have a 5.56-inch IPS LCD display, with a 2,220 x 1,080 resolution. Leaked images of the prototype also show no notch on the display.
A reliable 9to5Google source also indicated the display would be 5.6 inches at a resolution of 2,220 × 1,080 (440dpi) but suggested it would be an OLED panel rather than LCD. LCD was previously suspected to be utilized as a cost-cutting measure.
Both 9to5Google and Rozetked suggest the Google Pixel 3a will have an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset — a downgrade compared to the much faster Snapdragon 845 chip found on the current Pixel 3 devices — and 4GB of RAM (the same as the standard Pixel 3 phones). However, the internal storage has allegedly been reduced to 32GB for the Lite models as opposed to the 64GB and 128GB storage amounts on the current Pixel 3 models, said Rozetked. 9to5Google‘s Stephen Hall seems to disagree, suggesting on Twitter there would only be 64GB Pixel 3a and 3a XL models. WinFuture also backs up this claim.
In April, 9to5Google spotted listings for two new phones on the Google Play Developer Console which back up some of these rumors. According to those listings, the “3a” naming scheme will be utilized for these new phones and they will both come with 4GB of RAM and screen resolutions of 2,160 x 1,080 for the 3a and 2,220 x 1,080 for the 3a XL.
As for the Pixel 3a battery size, this is said to be either 2,915mAh or 3,000maAh, according to the rumors.
The most interesting thing about the Pixel 3a reports is that the camera hardware is said to be almost exactly the same as what’s found on the current Pixel 3 phones. The rumors claim it will have the same 12MP single rear camera and just one 8MP front-facing camera. That selfie camera will still have the same specs as the Pixel 3’s front camera, which has two of those same sensors. 9to5Google suggests the Pixel 3a camera app will have poorer performance (perhaps owing to the weaker processor), despite equal image quality, though.
If these reports are indeed accurate, that could be the biggest selling point of the Lite versions, as consumers would not have to pay a ton of money to get almost the same great camera experience.
Rozetked also posted photo samples taken with the Pixel 3 Lite prototype. One shows an outdoor scene on a winter road in the daytime, while the other is supposed to be an example of the camera’s portrait mode, with images of fruit. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any comparison images with a standard Pixel 3 camera. The samples also didn’t include an example of how the Lite camera could handle the Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode, which offers great photos in low-light conditions.
There’s isn’t a lot of information on the Pixel 3a XL yet, although it’s likely that it could share some of the same specs as its smaller model, including the same processor, memory, storage and camera options. This phone would likely have a 6-inch display and a Full HD+ resolution, and we can expect a bigger battery than the standard model too, given the larger body. 91Mobiles and OnLeaks have previously posted what they claim are renders of the Pixel 3 XL Lite.
It’s pretty much a given that both devices will launch with Android 9 Pie.
Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite: Design
One of the biggest design differences we expect for the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL is that the devices will be made of plastic rather than the all-glass materials of the main Pixel 3 line. This is likely a cost-cutting measure.
From rumors leaked by WinFuture, we also expect the Lite devices to come in the traditional black color and white color that the main Pixel 3 line does. However, there could be a color called “Iris,” which would likely be a purple or blue color to match the flower of the same name.
One small but important difference between the Pixel 3 Lite and the Pixel 3 is that it reportedly includes an old fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack on top. This will likely please a lot of folks who want to keep using their wired headphones and earbuds. On the downside, the phone is not supposed to have the dual front-facing speakers found on the current Pixel 3 phones, as the earpiece also serves as its single speaker.
On April 18, Android Headlines revealed what it claims are official renders of both the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. You can see those render below:
It’s hard to tell, but the 3a is on the left and the 3a XL is on the right. If you look closely, you can see that the 3a is slightly thinner than the 3a XL.
Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite: Who are these phones for?
The biggest question surrounding the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL may not be their hardware specs, their release dates, or their prices. Indeed, the big question about these phones may be who is the audience for these devices. If Google does launch these phones in May, they will be the first mid-range handsets from the company since it released the Nexus 5X way back in 2015.
One group of consumers who might be the target of the Pixel 3 Lite are people who have read reviews of the Pixel 3’s superior camera hardware but don’t want to pay a ton of money to get the phone itself. Using lower-end materials and hardware specs while also keeping most of the camera specs intact on the Pixel 3 Lite could get more people to check out Google’s products.
It’s also possible Google wants to see Pixel phones sold in more countries, particularly markets like India where cheaper phones are more popular. Offering the Google Pixel 3a in those countries could be a good move, as reasonably-priced phones with good cameras may stand out among other mid-range handsets.
If you have any other information regarding the Pixel 3 Lite or Pixel 3 XL Lite, tip us!
NEXT: Did the Celeron version of the Google Pixel Slate go to tablet purgatory?
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