The big idea with the Pixel 3a models is to bring high-end camera performance and the Pixel ~experience~ (i.e.: great hardware and design, and Android without any bells or whistles, for people who might find iPhones too basic and Samsung phones too garish/explode-y) to people who weren’t going to spend upward of $800 on a smartphone. So Google lowered the price by about half, reducing costs by using cheaper hardware and materials — like a pokier processor and plastic housing — in other parts of the phone while sticking with the same camera hardware.
In a briefing ahead of the announcement, Google’s VP of product management for Pixel, Brian Rakowski, said the phones are intended for people who would like to buy a Pixel but are left behind by that phone’s $800 (and up) price tag. (And based on the Pixel 3’s disappointing sales numbers, there were a lot of people, for one reason or another, who may have been left behind!)
There are also a few new features with this release. The AR walking directions on Google Maps announced last year at I/O have also finally made it in this release, which means that when you start walking down the block, you no longer have to panic wondering if you’re going the right way — it’ll tell you if you need to turn around.
There’s a time-lapse feature for, I don’t know, Lego enthusiasts, that lets you speed up the action when you play back a video you’ve shot. Photobooth, which could already automatically take a photo by smiling at the camera, will also take pictures if you make kissing or duck faces in its direction now. So, here are some photos of me doing that.