Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 Camera Comparison: Identical twins split by price

By Sameer Mitha | Published on May 08 2019
Google Pixel 3a XL vs Pixel 3 Camera Comparison: Identical twins split by price
HIGHLIGHTS

Google has announced the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones priced at Rs 39,999 and Rs 44,999.

The new smartphones have the same camera found on the flagship Pixel 3 smartphone.

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The Pixel 3a and 3a XL have officially launched and barring a few features like the screen size and the battery, both the phones are quite similar. One of the highlights of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL is the cameras at the back. The smartphone sports the same 12.2MP dual-pixel camera found on the Pixel 3 and the front has an 8MP camera. To refresh your memory, the Pixel 3 had one of the best cameras on a smartphone in 2018 and it was only outmatched by the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (read our review here) in our tests. We also have an in-depth comparison between the Pixel 3a XL and other similarly-priced smartphones like the Honor View 20, Samsung Galaxy S10e, OnePlus 6T and more. But for today we compare the performance of the camera on the Pixel 3a XL with the Pixel 3.

Pixel 3A is finally here and of you missed the launch details, here’s what the Google pixel 3A is all about.

For those of you looking for the short story, the Pixel 3a XL and the Pixel 3 camera are almost at par. It is only pixel peepers that will notice the finer details and differences between the two. Having said that, there are some instances of indoor photography where the Pixel 3a XL showcased better contrast making the photos look punchier. However, in the same images, better details were retained on the images clicked with the Pixel 3. 

Night Sight

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

In the samples above, you can see that the Pixel 3a XL and the Pixel 3, both do a great job of clicking the building in low lit conditions using the proprietary Night Sight capability. Viewed on our 27-inch 5K iMac, the images were almost identical when viewed in the “fit the screen” size. However, blow up the image to the “Actual Size” and you will notice that the Pixel 3 manages to retain more details. The greenery in the garden and details on the grill in some of the balconies prove that the Pixel 3 has a slight advantage over the Pixel 3a. In the dark sky, the Pixel 3a also exhibits a bit more noise when compared to the Pixel 3.

Indoor Daylight

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

This wall hanging has muted colours and is a great example of the smartphone’s camera’s ability to capture details. For this, we clicked the photos with both the smartphone's cameras keeping the HDR + off, then on and finally with the HDR+ enhanced mode. For this, we realized that with HDR+ the Pixel 3a produced better images with a higher level of saturation making the image more appealing to the eye. However, the colour accuracy and details when we look closely at the petals is better on the Pixel 3. 

My Little Puppy

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

In this photo of my naughty Beagle, once again, the conclusion is what we have seen above. The Beagle (Milo), looks crisp and clear in the images clicked on both the phones. With HDR switched to auto, both the images look great. The Beagle has a more appealing image when clicked from the Pixel 3a XL. However, look at the green rim on the speaker in the background. Even though the focus in on the Beagle, the green rim on the speaker is a lot clearer when closely inspected on the image clicked with the Pixel 3. It retains more details. Once again, the image clicked from both the phones are visually rich with the Pixel 3 edging a little ahead in front with the details. 

Selfie King

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

Let's jump to the front camera for a bit. Now, both the images look good but zoom into the beard and you will notice that there are more details on the image clicked with the Pixel 3. Especially below the lip, the Pixel 3a XL tends to soften the image to make it look more appealing. The Pixel 3a also added a touch of pink to my cheeks, something the Pixel 3 didn't do. The Pixel 3 retains a more natural colour along with details whereas the Pixel 3a XL softened the face and made the colours slightly cooler to make the image more appealing to the eye.

The Light In The Garden

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

The picture of the light in the garden was clicked in the night and as we have already spoken about night mode at the beginning of the article, let's take a look at the HDR+ enhanced performance of the camera in this scenario. In this image, the Pixel 3a XL is trying to make things sharper and because of this is losing out on some details. When looked on a small screen like a phone the image appears clean to the eye but pixel peeping highlights the loss in detail. The Pixel 3, on the other hand, has the better photo overall, true to source. 

Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

One look at the photo and everyone surrounding our big Mac pointed at the contrasty, saturated image clicked by the Pixel 3a XL and rightfully so. The image looks really good with deep blacks highlighting the web-slinger. However, if you look at the real figurine, you will see that the Pixel 3 tries to retain the true colours. The sofa in the background has pink petals on it which appear slightly red on the Pixel 3a XL and a little blurry when compared to the Pixel 3. 

The Bokeh Effect

Above: Shot on Pixel 3 (resized for web)

Above: Shot on Pixel 3a XL (resized for web)

One of the highlights of the Pixel 3 was the ability to click good portrait photos without the use of a secondary depth-sensing camera. The same feature has been inherited by the Pixel 3a XL. In the photo clicked by the Pixel 3a XL, the image looks well saturated and lively. It even manages to eliminate the slight ray of light coming into the room from a nearby window creating a pixel-perfect image. However, in reality, the colour of the small vase looks more like it does in the image clicked with the Pixel 3. It may not be as appealing to the eye, but the colours are more accurate. 

Does the Pixel 3a XL stand tall with the Pixel 3?

The short answer is yes. If a Pixel 3-like camera is more important to you, and you don't want to spend more, you can consider the Pixel 3a XL. The camera performance is at par. In fact, if you are a pixel peeper, then know that for indoor photos the Pixel 3a is a hair better than the Pixel 3. It is also better in producing oversaturated punchy images, something which has become a trend these days. However, if more details, true to source colours is what you are looking for, then the Pixel 3 is your weapon of choice. Either way, if a camera is important for you, you can't go wrong with either of the two devices. Stay tuned as we will bring you an in-depth comparison between the Pixel 3a XL and other flagship camera smartphones soon.

 

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

Google Pixel 3a XL

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