Google has surprised the markets with the launch of its new Pixel 3a and 3a XL smartphones, that are half the cost of its Pixel 3 handsets.
The new devices were announced at Google’s I/O 2019 conference, during which Google also revealed it has expanded the number of mobile operators carrying the device in the US, and not made it exclusive to just one carrier.
Google had only launched its Pixel 3 smartphones back in 2018, and those handsets included two front-facing cameras for “group selfie” shots that were ‘guided’ by artificial intelligence (AI).
But now with the Pixel 3a, it is clear that Google is seeking to offer a budget smartphone, that comes with mid-range specs but which includes the same powerful camera as its more pricer stable mate, the Pixel 3.
A short video of the new device is available here.
These days, you expect a lot from a smartphone,” blogged Mario Queiroz, GM and VP of Pixel. “You want a premium camera that can take vivid, share-worthy photos wherever you go. And you want a phone that has a battery that’s reliable for long stretches. You also don’t want it to break the bank. The new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are all of those things and more, for half the price of premium phones.”
According to Queiroz, the Pixel 3a is designed to fit nicely in your hand, and includes an OLED display, and comes in three colours (Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish), as well as two sizes.
Prices in the US start at just $399 for the 5.6-inch display and $479 for the 6-inch model.
The Pixel 3 in comparison sells for $799.
And Google also revealed it has pulled the Verizon-exclusive deal for Pixel phones, and opened it up to other other US carriers. It remains to be seen whether it will do the same outside the United States.
The camera is still a selling point for the Pixel 3a, as it uses Google’s HDR+ technology that can offer features such as Portrait Mode, Super Res Zoom, and Night Sight to capture clear shots in low light.
But the cheaper Pixel 3a will only have one front camera instead of two, and no wireless charging option either.
Google also used the conference to unveil the Google Nest Hub Max. This new 10-inch Google Assistant smart speaker comes with a larger display screen, improved speakers, and a camera for video calls, home security, and facial recognition.
It will arrive in the summer at a cost of $229 in the US.
But the main focus has been on the new budget smartphone range, especially as Google has been struggling to compete in the smartphone sector against the likes of Samsung and Apple.
Both of those firms offer phones at multiple price points, so Google making a budget smartphone seems to be a sensible move for the search engine giant.
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