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Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Which Pixel Smartphone Should I Buy?

We compare the Google Pixel 4 with the Pixel 3 and throw the Pixel 3a in, too, as it's new(ish) and excellent value for money.

|  Google Pixel 3a in Camera Phones
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Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are here and you can pre-order the new smartphone now for its release on 24 October 2019 but, should you, based on specs alone, switch to the Google Pixel 4? Or, should you just stick with the Google Pixel 3? There's also the Google Pixel 3a to consider and it's considerably cheaper than the Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 range.  


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Let's compare the Pixel 4 with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a to see what, on paper, is new and if the upgrades are really worth you upgrading for. We'll also show you what's the same on each of the devices to give a more balanced view. 

If you already know you have less than £400 to spend, the Google Pixel 3a or Pixel 3 are going to be the Pixel smartphones for you and you can compare the specs of these particular Pixel camera phones in our comparison review. To add to the complications, there's also the XL versions of each Pixel available which are slightly more money and bigger. Take a look at our Google Pixel 3 Vs Google Pixel 3 XL to learn more and here's a full rundown of the Pixel smartphones available: 

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Pixel 4
Pixel 4


Let's Have A Quick Look At The Similarities/Differences:

  Google Pixel 4  Google Pixel 3  Google Pixel 3a 
Rear Camera 12.2MP Wide-Angle & 16MP Telephoto Lens (f/1.7 - f/2.4) 12.2MP Wide-Angle (f/1.8) 12.2MP Wide-Angle (f/1.8)
Front Camera 8MP f/2.0 selfie camera 8MP f/2.0 & 8MP f/2.2 selfie camera 8MP f/2.0 selfie camera
Display  5.7inches, 1080 x 2280 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 5.5inches, 1080 x 2160 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 5.6inches, 1080 x 2220 pixels, Asahi Dragontrail Glass
Weight 162g 148g 147g
Size  147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2mm 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2mm
Optical Zoom  2X 0 0
Video  2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS) 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS) 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps
Image Stabilisation  Optical Image Stabalisation  Optical Image Stabalisation  Optical Image Stabalisation 
Battery 2800mAh 2915mAh 3000mAh 


Note: The size, weight and display are different, again, on the XL version of the Pixel smartphones:


  Google Pixel 4 XL Google Pixel 3 XL Google Pixel 3a XL
Display  6.3inches, 1440 x 3040 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 6.3inches, 1440 x 2960 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 6inches, 1080 x 2160 pixels,  Asahi Dragontrail Glass
Weight 193g 184g 167g
Size  160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2 mm

158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm

160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2mm
Battery 3700mAh 3430mAh 3700mAh 


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Cameras

Google Pixel 3 (2)
Pixel 3 


One of the most impressive things on the Google Pixel smartphones are the cameras and the Google Pixel 3 (and 3 XL) are still featured in our 'Best Camera Phones For Photography' top list. 

On the Pixel 4, you find the same 12.2MP camera built into the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a but there's an added 16MP telephoto lens this time which adds 2x optical zoom to the already pretty good Super Res Zoom software (originally launched in the Pixel 3). On the front on all three Pixels is an 8MP selfie camera but on the Pixel 3, it was doubled-up so for self-portraits, the Pixel 3 could be better but we'll find out more when we put the Pixel 4 through its paces. 

One thing all three Pixels smartphones do share is some clever camera technology and machine learning that brings features such as Night Sight and HDR to the smartphones. Night Sight was introduced on the Pixel 3 and features on the Pixel 4 but it's been improved further so you can photograph the night sky. A version of this mode will be added to the Pixel 3a in a camera update, too. 

Another cool feature on the Pixel 4 is the ability to set the exposure level of the background/foreground of shots separately.

On paper, you won't be disappointed with the Pixel 3 or 3a when capturing photos but for the latest updates, better low light performance and improved dynamic range, the Pixel 4 is the way to go.  

Take a look at sample photos captured with the Google Pixel smartphones below. The Pixel 3a examples are from the Pixel 3a XL smartphone but as they share the same camera, and we only reviewed the XL version, we thought we'd shared them alongside the Pixel 4 sample photos and Pixel 3 images. 


Google Pixel 4 Sample Photos


Google Pixel 3 Sample Photos


Google Pixel 3a XL Sample Photos


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Display 

PB020043 | 1/125 sec | f/5.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 800

Pixel 3 


There's not much between the displays on the three smartphones in terms of inches but the less expensive Google Pixel 3a is constructed from Asahi Dragontrail Glass rather than Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

  • Pixel 4 - 5.7 inches, 1080 x 2280
  • Pixel 3 - 5.5 inches, 1080 x 2160
  • Pixel 3a - 5.6 inches, 1080 x 2220

If size really does matter, you'll want to take a look at the XL versions of these smartphones as they measure over 6-inches. Again, the less expensive 3a XL display is built from Asahi Dragontrail Glass rather than Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

  • Pixel 4 XL - 6.3 inches, 1440 x 3040
  • Pixel 3 XL - 6.3 inches, 1440 x 2960
  • Pixel 3a XL - 6 inches, 1080 x 2160


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Battery 

PB020003 | 1/160 sec | f/5.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 800
Pixel 3 


The Pixel 3a actually has the best battery with a rating of 3000mAh. The Pixel 4 has a 2800mAh battery and the Pixel 3 features a 2915 battery. A similar pattern follows on the XL versions with the Pixel 3a XL having a 3700mAh, Pixel 3 XL featuring a 3430mAh battery and the Pixel 4 XL having a 2800mAh battery. 


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Design

Pixel 4
Pixel 4


All of the Pixel smartphones look similar with their modern design, rounded corners and interesting colour options. The Pixel 3a does feature a plastic build, though, which means it may not feel as premium as other flagship smartphones or even glass-backed mid-range smartphones, however, the mixture of a gloss and matt back is a nice touch. 

Size-wise, the Pixel 3a is the biggest followed by the Pixel 4 and then the Pixel 3. The XL versions are, obviously, bigger still.

The new no-notch design is worth a mention as instead, you get a metal band and, of course, the rear of the Pixel has changed as the cameras now sit in a square. 


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Price

Google Pixel 3 (4)
Pixel 3 


With the introduction of the 3a range, Google now has a smartphone for all budgets from mid-range to premium and if you don't need the very latest Google smartphone, the 3 and 3 XL are reasonably priced. If your budget doesn't stretch over £300, you'll have to look at less expensive options from other brands. 

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Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Other Features

Google Pixel 3A XL (5)
Google Pixel 3 


With the introduction of the Pixel 4, you do lose the fingerprint sensor (face recognition is how you unlock the smartphone) and you don't have a headphone jack (you do on the 3a/3a XL). You do keep stereo sound, fast charging, wireless charging, water resistance, the same storage options (excl the 3a/3a XL), HDR support and sides you can squeeze to access the Google Assistant. 


Google Pixel 4 Vs Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3a: Final Thoughts 

PB020017 | 1/800 sec | f/11.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 800

The introduction of a second rear camera, adding optical zoom, and improved camera modes make the Google Pixel 4/4XL a smartphone we are looking forward to putting to the test but do the specs make us instantly want to upgrade? No, currently they don't. However, our opinion may change when we complete our review. If you want to spend a little less cash on your smartphone, the image quality from the Pixel 3/3 XL and the Pixel 3a/3a XL won't disappoint so they are still worth considering. 


Comparison Table

Google Pixel 4Google Pixel 3Google Pixel 3a
Front Camera
Pixels8Mp (Megapixels)8Mp (Megapixels)8Mp (Megapixels)
Max Aperturef/2f/2.2f/2
Smartphone Cameras
Smartphone Cameras
  • Wide-Angle (Standard)
  • Telephoto
  • Wide-Angle (Standard)
  • Wide-Angle (Standard)
Additional Cameras45mm 16MP f/2.4, 28mm 12.2MP f/1.712.2 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide),12.2 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide)
Max Aperturef/1.7 - f/2.4f/1.8f/1.8
35mm equivalent27mm27mm27mm
Optical Zoom2x0x0x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.2Mp (Megapixels)12.2Mp (Megapixels)12.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)403240324032
Pixels (H)302430243024
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)Back-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)Back-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.55inch1/2.55inch1/2.55inch
Sensor Size (width)No DataNo DataNo Data
Sensor Size (height)No DataNo DataNo Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor5.7in5.5in5.6in
Screen resolution2280x10802160x10802160x1080
Touch ScreenYesYesYes
Focusing modes
        Exposure Control
        Shutter speeds shortestNo DataNo DataNo Data
        Shutter speeds longestNo DataNo DataNo Data
        ISO sensitivityNo DataNo DataNo Data
        Movie modeYesYesYes
        Video Resolution
        • 4K
        • 1920x1080 FullHD
        • 1280x720 HD 720p
        • 4K
        • 1920x1080 FullHD
        • 4K
        • 1920x1080 FullHD
        Video FPS1080p @ 30 FPS, 60 FPS, 120 FPS, 720p @ 240 FPS, 4K @ 30 FPS2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30fps2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps
        Stereo SoundYesYesYes
        Other Features
        Image StabilisationYesYesYes
        Internal Memory4000MB4000MB4000MB
        Power Source
        Battery Type2800mAh2915mAh3000mAh
        Box Contents
        Box ContentsNo DataNo DataNo Data
        View Full DetailsView Full DetailsView Full Details

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