Google Pixel 3a Review

June 7, 2019 | Amy Davies |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Since the Google Pixel 3a’s camera has been brought over from the standard Pixel 3, we had every confidence that the camera performance would be on par with its more expensive sibling. Having a slightly slower processor has the potential to have an impact on some areas of performance, but it’s not something we have particularly noticed during the course of this test.

Images are very impressive directly from the camera, and it’s easy to see why this is a phone which is consistently recommended for photographers - and indeed why Google gives it the Pixel moniker in the first place.

Colours in JPEG images are nice and vibrant, while there’s a good amount of detail. Shooting in low light in the standard photo mode is OK, but you get much more impressive results if you switch to the Night Sight mode. In the latter mode, you can essentially be sitting in almost complete darkness and the phone will still manage to capture something.

Although the Google Pixel 3a only has one lens, thanks to machine learning, Portrait mode does well to produce good shallow depth of field effects. Human subjects tend to better than non-human subjects, while those with very complex outlines may not be rendered perfectly.

Being a phone which doesn’t give you a great degree of control over shooting settings, you have to rely on it getting things right without intervention. Happily, in the majority of circumstances, things such as metering and white balance are pretty accurate and result in pleasing, well-balanced images.

On occasion, HDR+ control goes a little overboard and can leave you with slightly unrealistic images. It’s worth keeping an eye on this, and switching it off if you see it happening - or shooting in raw format as well as JPEG so you have something to work with should the finished JPEG be a little over the top.

Focal Range

The Google Pixel 3a's fixed lens provides the focal length demonstrated below.

Standard Lens


Digital Zoom



This macro shot shows how close you can get to the subject.




The flash settings on the Google Pixel 3a are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Wide-angle Lens - Flash Off


Wide-angle Lens - Flash On


Selfie - Flash Off


Selfie - Flash On


Night Sight Mode

The Night Sight mode is always available in the More menu, and the camera also prompts you to use it when it detects low-light levels. You can hand-hold the Pixel 3a for up to 6 seconds and still get sharp, well-exposed photos, as shown below.

Long Exposure


Portrait Mode

The Google Pixel 3a's portrait mode intelligently blurs the background whilst keeping the main subject sharp.



The Google Pixel 3a has a simple-to-use panorama mode that provides good results, as shown below.