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Google Pixel 3a Review & Rating

The Pixel 3a ups the ante for what we can expect from midrange smartphones. It offers many similar features to the $799 Pixel 3 for half the price. Sure, there are some concessions, but the value you get for your money is truly outstanding. For $399, the Pixel 3a offers solid performance, good battery life, a gorgeous OLED display, and the absolute best camera performance you’ll find on a phone for less than $700. It’s easy to recommend the Pixel 3a to anyone looking for flagship-level features on a more moderate budget, so we’re naming it our Editors’ Choice for midrange phones.

Design, Display, and Durability

What’s different between the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3? For starters, the Pixel 3 has a much more powerful processor, making it better for gaming and other intensive applications. It also has a Pixel Visual Core image processing chip, and a glass back panel to facilitate wireless charging. You don’t get those things here. But let’s focus on what you do get, and why it’s such a good value (and for more on what’s different, see our story on the Pixel 3a vs. the Pixel 3).

From the front, the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3 look nearly identical, but if you look a little closer, you’ll notice a few differences. For starters, the Pixel 3a is slightly taller and wider, at 6.0 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches to the Pixel 3’s 5.7 by 2.7 by 0.3 inches. It comes in at the same 5.2 ounces, however, since it has a polycarbonate back panel instead of glass. And the front display is a smidge larger at 5.6 inches compared the 5.5-inch Pixel 3.

While the back of the Pixel 3a is made of rigid plastic, it has the same textured design as the Pixel 3. The top quarter of the chassis is glossy and has a single camera lens on the left. Just below the transition to textured plastic, a fingerprint sensor is easy to reach in the center. Toward the bottom, the Google logo is elegantly embossed. The phone is available in black, light purple, or white. Unlike the Pixel 3, it doesn’t have an IP rating for water resistance, so you’ll need to be a little more careful when using it, or invest in a waterproof case.

Performance

The top of the phone is home to the 3.5mm headphone jack (something you won’t find on the Pixel 3), while the bottom holds the USB-C charging port and speakers. On the right you’ll find the volume rocker and power button. Both are accessible even with small hands, and the power button is easy to identify thanks to its contrasting color. The left is home to a SIM slot, though there’s also an eSIM on board so you may never need to use it.

The front is home to the aforementioned 5.6-inch display, which is sandwiched between chunky top and bottom bezels. The top bezel houses the front-facing camera and earpiece, while the bottom bezel is just sort of there—there’s no front-firing speaker like on the Pixel 3.

Although the Pixel 3a’s 5.6-inch OLED display is constructed of a different type of glass than the more expensive Pixel 3, it’s basically identical. It features 2,220-by-1,080-pixel resolution for 441 pixels per inch compared with the Pixel 3’s 2,160-by-1,080, 443ppi panel. Our lab tests shows nearly identical color gamut between the two displays, with the only notable difference being that the Pixel 3a is a little brighter than its sibling at 409 nits versus 400 nits.

Google Pixel 3a XL 10

Left to right: Google Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 3a

If you’re a fan of larger displays, meanwhile, you might want to check out the Pixel 3a XL. While it’s a near carbon copy of the 3a, the XL model has a larger 6.3-inch OLED display.

Cameras

Camera performance is often one of our many complaints about midrange phones. While models like the Nokia 7.1 and the OnePlus 6T do well in bright light, their abilities are a lot more hit-or-miss in low light. We’re happy to report, however, the Pixel 3a’s camera can easily compete with (and sometimes best) some of the top flagship phones on the market.

Camera

The rear camera comes in at 12.2MP with an f/1.8 aperture, as well as optical and electronic image stabilization. It’s nearly identical to the sensor on the Pixel 3.

The front camera is a little different compared with its more expensive sibling. Where the Pixel 3 has a wide-angle 8MP lens with an f/2.2 aperture, as well as a telephoto lens with a wider f/1.8 aperture, the Pixel 3a has a single 8MP lens with an f/2.0 aperture.

Pixel 3a vs. Pixel 3

In bright light, the Pixel 3a performs beautifully. Our lab photos are vivid and show excellent color accuracy. Both background and foreground images are well defined, and depth of field, an aspect where many midrange phones stutter, is perfect.

Pixel 3a Night Sight vs Pixel 3

Low-light photos look spectacular as well. We took the Pixel 3a to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibit to see how well it performed in various levels of low light compared with the Pixel 3. We used Night Sight on both phones when it was suggested and took over a dozen photos. As you can see here, the Pixel 3a photos are nearly indistinguishable from the Pixel 3. Looking at them in full size, however, background details in Night Sight are a little less blown out on the Pixel 3 compared with the 3a. Still, there’s no question you’re going to get spectacular photos with the Pixel 3a, no matter when or where you’re shooting.

Pixel 3a Night Sight vs Pixel 3 additional photo

And while the Pixel 3a is missing the second front-facing selfie lens, it still does a great job in all lighting situations. During our tests we found it to work equally well in both daylight and low light, and portrait mode works like a charm. All of our test shots came out crisp, with a natural-looking bokeh.

Hardware and Performance

The Pixel 3a uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor and 4GB of RAM. Its closest competitors, the Nokia 7.1 and the Motorola Moto G7 Power, both have slower Snapdragon 636 chips. While it may not seem like a big difference on paper, the bump in processing power along with Google’s elegant software tweaks make a significant difference in real-world usage. Apps open instantaneously and, try as we might, we were unable to slow the phone down with over a dozen apps open at once.

In comparision, the Pixel 3 packs a much more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. In short, if you’re a hardcore gamer, regularly use video editing or drafting software, or just want the most power on a Pixel handset, you’ll want to stick with the Pixel 3. But for the average user, the Pixel 3a should be more than sufficient.

Related Story See How We Test Phones

Benchmark results underscroe this point. The Pixel 3a scored 7,378 on PCMark, a benchmarking app that emulates everyday use, which is significantly better than the Nokia 7.1 (6,224) and the Moto G7 Power (6,107), but short of the Pixel 3 (9,358).

Front-Facing Camera

Storage comes in at 64GB. That’s the same amount as you’ll find on the entry-level Pixel 3, as well as the Nokia 7.1 and Motorola Moto G7 Power. But unlike the 7.1 and the G7 Power, there’s no option to add additional storage via a microSD card. It would have been nice to see a 128GB storage option, or ideally a microSD slot, but we don’t think this is a deal breaker since Google offers free photo storage.

The Pixel 3a is powered by a 3,000mAh battery. In our rundown test, which streams video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the 3a managed to last for a solid 9 hours and 22 minutes. That’s not as impressive as the Moto G7 Power (14 hours, 29 minutes), but you should still have no problem getting more than a day between charges with more conservative use. If you do find yourself in a lurch, the Pixel 3a supports 18W fast charging with Power Delivery 2.0 with the included adapter.

Software

It’s no surprise the Google Pixel 3a ships with Android 9.0. It features a custom Pixel UI that adds exclusive features developed by Google like Duplex, Now Playing, and Call Screen. While other manufacturers create their own custom interfaces with special tweaks, it’s hard to beat the experience of a using a pure Google phone.

In addition to the latest version of Android, the Pixel 3a is guaranteed to get at least three years of software updates. It’s also first in line for updates, so you won’t have to wait for months to get Android Q later this year.

Network and Audio

The Pixel 3a ships unlocked and supports all US carriers. And unlike past models, it’s also available through all the major carriers except AT&T. It supports every major LTE band including band 71, so even T-Mobile customers in rural areas should expect solid data quality. In our tests on T-Mobile’s network in New York City, the phone performed like a champ, with speeds of 48Mbps down and 38Mbps up despite heavy network congestion.

Call quality is superb. During multiple test calls, we could easily understand the other party and there was no static or clipped words. Noise cancellation worked perfectly, without background noise seeping through on any of our calls. Earpiece volume comes in at 81dB, so it’s easy to hear who you’re talking to in just about any atmosphere.

Headphone Jack

Unlike the Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a has bottom-firing stereo speakers. They can get quite loud at 88dB in our tests, and while there is no bass to speak of, the overall sound is bright and clean without any tininess or static.

The Pixel 3a supports Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Bluetooth 5.0 is included for wearable and audio connectivity. There’s also NFC for Google Pay.

Comparisons and Conclusions

The Google Pixel 3a is an unequivocal win for midrange phone buyers, with good battery life, a lovely display, the latest Android software, and a best-in-class camera. No other $400 phone comes close to offering this level of performance and polish, so it’s no surprise the Pixel 3a earns our Editors’ Choice for midrange phones.

If you’re on the fence between the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL, it ultimately comes down to a matter of size. If you like big phones, get the XL. We’re giving the smaller 3a our Editors’ Choice, however, because there is simply no better phone for the price. At $479, the Pixel 3a XL starts to compete with the $550 OnePlus 6T and the $500 Samsung Galaxy S9, both of which offer more processing power.

Compared with the Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a isn’t quite as powerful, but it offers the same Android software and update schedule, a comparably gorgeous screen, and, most importantly, shockingly similar camera performance. If you want the absolute fastest hardware for gaming or other resource-intensive apps, get the Pixel 3. Everyone else can pat themselves on the back for saving $400 on the Pixel 3a.



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A $153 Google Pixel XL, a $20 Xbox One Controller Charger, a G.SKILL Gaming Mouse, and More – Review Geek

The G.SKILL RIPJAWS Gaming Mouse, the Google Pixel XL, and the Xbox Rechargeable Battery
G.SKILL, Google, Microsoft

Ready to start your week with some deals? The internet’s full of great discounts, ranging from the $134 iPhone 6 to the $265 Nintendo Switch console. But as always, we’ve picked out a few favorites.

Right now, you can grab a Google Pixel XL for just $153. It’s an older phone, but it still works like a dream. If you aren’t interested in a discounted smartphone, you might want to check out the $25 G.SKILL RIPJAWS ambidextrous gaming mouse or the $20 Xbox One controller charging pack.

Laptops and Desktops

If your computer’s starting to fall apart, it may be time to upgrade at a discount.

  • Lenovo Legion Y7000 15.6″ 16GB RAM 1TB Storage Gaming Laptop, $1,079 ($720 off) [Amazon]
  • Lenovo IdeaPad S340 15.6″ 8GB RAM 256GB Storage Laptop, $450 ($210 off) [Office Depot]
  • Lenovo IdeaCentre 520 23.8″ 8GB RAM 1TB Storage Desktop, $470 ($180 off) [Office Depot]
  • MacBook 12″ 8GB RAM 256GB Storage 2017 Edition, $900 ($100 off) [Woot]

Keyboards, Routers, and Other Computer Accessories

Disgusted by your old keyboard and mouse? Maybe it’s time for a cheap upgrade.

  • HP 27″ Quad-HD Monitor, $160 ($120 off) [Woot]
  • CORSAIR K70 RGB Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, $110 ($70 off) [Amazon]
  • Microsoft Surface Go Signature Type Cover, $65 ($65 off) [Newegg]
  • Apple Magic Trackpad 2, $100 ($30 off) [Amazon]
  • G.SKILL RIPJAWS MX780 Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse, $25 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsung 512GB MicroSD Card, $100 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Eero Mesh Wi-Fi System 3-Pack, $320 ($80 off) [Amazon]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

Need a new phone? Now’s your chance to grab a cheap Google Pixel XL or a discounted iPhone 6.

  • Google Pixel XL 128GB Unlocked Refurbished, $153 ($95 off) [Amazon]
  • iPhone 6 64GB Refurbished, $134 ($40 off) [Newegg]
  • Galaxy Tab E 9.6″ 8GB, $113 ($35 off) [Rakuten]
  • Apple Watch Series 3, $200 ($80 off) [Walmart]
  • Apple AirPods with Charging Case Newest Model, $140 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Jabra Elite 65t Alexa-Enabled True Wireless Earbuds, $150 ($20 off) [Amazon]

Smart Home Gadgets

Now’s a great time to upgrade your home. Grab a cheap Google Home Mini bundle or some discounted Echo devices.

  • Google Home Mini + Chromecast, $44 ($41 off) [Best Buy]
  • Amazon Family Accounts get 30% off Echo Devices [Amazon]
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick, $25 ($15 off for Prime Members) [Amazon]
  • ecobee Thermostat + Room Sensor Bundle, $217 ($112 off) [Home Depot]
  • eufy Security Camera 2-Camera Kit, $300 ($100 off with coupon clip) [Amazon]
  • eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30, $160 ($110 off) [Woot]
  • Apple TV 32GB with Siri Voice Search, $140 ($40 off) [Massgenie]

Video Games

Getting bored? Now’s a great time to buy a Nintendo Switch or some discounted PC games.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $265 ($50 off) [Massgenie]
  • Fire Emblem Warriors Nintendo Switch, $20 ($40 off) [Massgenie]
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World Nintendo Switch, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • NBA 2K19 Anniversary Edition Nintendo Switch, $30 ($60 off) [Walmart]
  • Monster Hunter World PS4, $20 ($40 off) [PlayStation Store]
  • Devil May Cry 5 PS4, $40 ($20 off) [GameStop]
  • Xbox One Play and Charge Kit, $20 ($6 off) [Amazon]
  • Minecraft Game + 1K Minecoins + Starters and Creators Pack DLC, $15 ($35 off) [Massgenie]
  • The King of Fighters Triple-Pack PC, $7 ($42 off) [Fanatical]
  • Bayonetta PC, $5 ($15 off) [Fanatical]

Everything Else

Grab some new rechargeable batteries or a large capacity deep fryer.

  • Panasonic Eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries 8-Pack, $19 ($8 off) [Amazon]
  • Vegas Pro 15 Bundle, $25 ($625 off) [Humble Bundle]
  • GoPro Fusion 360 Digital Camera, $300 ($300 off) [Best Buy]
  • Spotify 3-Month Membership, $10 ($20 off) [Spotify]
  • Faberware 14lbs Extra-Large Capacity Deep Fryer, $40 ($40 off) [Walmart]
  • CHICOM 9.6″ Dashcam with Smart Rear-View Mirror, $87 ($69 off with coupon code 2IORNML) [Amazon]
  • Insignia 4-Device Universal Remote, $10 ($20 off) [Best Buy]
  • Up to 30% Cuisinart Grills and Accessories [Amazon]
  • Up to 50% Patio Furniture [Big Lots]

Remember, good deals tend to disappear after a day or two. If any of these deals catch your fancy, be sure to grab them before they’re gone for good.





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The Pixel 3a could be Google’s ‘Moto G’ moment

In the grand scheme of things, as an Android enthusiast, Google’s Pixel 3a phone really doesn’t seem all that electrifying.

And it’s no wonder: The Pixel 3a, on its surface, is a lower-end remake of the premium Pixel 3 model that came out last fall. When we have devices showing up that are foldable, poppable, and packing more screens than a TV station’s control room (for better or maybe for worse), a decidedly muted midrange model of a phone we already know seems downright mundane.

But you know what? The most important announcements often aren’t the most exciting ones. Having lived with and closely considered the Pixel 3a for several days now, I’m more convinced than ever it has the potential to be one of the most significant and impactful announcements to come out of any Google I/O conference — an announcement whose force could be felt and looked back upon for years to come.

The simplest way to understand why is to think back on another unassuming, mundane-seeming phone from several years ago. I’m talking, of course, about the original Moto G.

The Pixel 3a’s 2013 connection

Let’s bring ourselves back to the summer of 2013 for a second. Tinder and Snapchat were the hot new apps of the moment; “selfie,” “phablet,” and “emoji” had just been added into the Oxford online dictionary; and countless parents were hearing “Let It Go” for the first of what would be approximately 7.2 million times. (If the song’s chorus didn’t automatically just start playing in your head, congratulations: You’re far more sane than the rest of us.)

That same year, Motorola came out with its first phone created entirely under Google’s guidance: the original Moto X. (Remember, Google bought Motorola in 2011, but phones are typically under development for a full couple of years before they see the light of day.)

The Moto X, to put it mildly, was a critical darling. Android enthusiasts and professional phone reviewers (myself included) heaped praise upon the phone for its unusual approach, especially for that time, in which specs were de-emphasized and Motorola instead focused on creating a device with an exceptional all-around user experience — one that added thoughtful and genuinely valuable features into the existing Android framework without arbitrarily changing things simply for the sake of change.

To wit: That inaugural Moto X piloted the idea of always-on voice activation —”one of the coolest and most useful smartphone innovations to come along in years,” as I put it at the time — along with the now-standard notion of having relevant info flash on your screen when the phone isn’t actively in use. It introduced an automatic driving detection system before such technology was in any way commonplace and gave phone-owners the opportunity to quite literally design their own devices in a manner we haven’t seen attempted since.

And yet, for all its positives and the many factors the phone got right, the Moto X was not, by any accounts, a commercial success. The phone gave Motorola plenty of geek cred and helped set the stage for the kind of company it’d become during that brief Google-owned era — and it certainly gave all of us plenty to talk about — but it didn’t rake in much dough or turn Moto into anything close to resembling a major force within the Android ecosystem.

Fast-forward now four months to that same November: In an understated event held in Brazil, Motorola announced a different device called the Moto G (which would come to the U.S., too, a couple weeks later). It wasn’t an exciting phone, by any means; it was a lower-end but eerily similar version of the more enticing Moto X.

The Moto G was “technologically boring,” as Wired said at the time. And yet, it was “striking just how similar it [was] to the Moto X when you handle[d] it,” The Verge noted — going on to say:

Without comparing the two directly, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them. Motorola tells us that this was intentional: The Moto X look is the company’s design language, and it isn’t concerned with the Moto G distracting customers from its flagship.

There was one immediately noticeable difference between the devices: The Moto G cost a mere $180 — roughly half the price of the Moto X, which sold for $380 unlocked at the time of its launch.

The tech world issued a collective yawn, but guess what? While the Moto X failed to make much of a commercial splash, the Moto G was a smash hit. The phone was credited with single-handedly “resurrecting” Motorola in certain markets, driving record phone sales across the globe, and eventually becoming the company’s best-selling smartphone ever. As recently as last year, Motorola said it had sold 70 million Moto G devices since that first model’s launch and that the phone had served as a key part of the company’s long-term success story.

A lot of random-seeming history, I realize, but stick with me: All of this is critically important context for what we’re seeing take shape with the Pixel 3a today. Time to zip our way back to the present — with one more quick pit stop along the way.

Pixel 3a parallels

With its first-gen Pixel phone in 2016, Google had a critical darling on its hands. It was a “home run,” as The Verge put it — “pure Android at its absolute best,” in the words of CNET. And yet, despite similarly glowing reviews for the phone’s second-generation model and an ample amount of enthusiasm for 2018’s third-gen version, the Pixel has remained a niche product.

It’s true that, despite a recent quarter in which Google fell victim to the same sales slump being experienced by almost every phone-maker around the world, the Pixel has been gaining impressive ground and seeing significant growth within the smartphone market — especially when you factor in all the caveats associated with the device. But still, in the big picture, it’s but a tiny drop in the bucket of the broader Android ecosystem.

So what did Google do? As seemed inevitable from get-go, it came out with a cheaper model — one that offers the same sort of experience as the regular Pixel but in a less premium package and, oh yes, at roughly half the price.

After using the Pixel 3a for roughly a week now, I’ve been blown away by the parallels between this phone — and the apparent strategy surrounding it — and what we saw six years ago with that first Moto G. Just like the Moto G, the Pixel 3a is strikingly similar to its higher-end sibling. The phone is so similar to the regular Pixel, in fact, that I often can’t which is which at a glance and end up grabbing the wrong device by mistake.

More important, though, using the Pixel 3a doesn’t feel like using a “midrange phone”; it feels like using a Pixel. The user experience is almost identical across the two devices, from the design language and software all the way down to the outstanding camera — something you certainly don’t tend to see in a sub-$400 device. Heck, the 3a’s camera is arguably better and more capable than any non-Pixel phone’s camera, even in the $800-and-up range.

And, zooming out to an even bigger-picture view, the Pixel 3a comes with the same Pixel-standard guarantee of timely and reliable OS and security updates for a full three years from the device’s launch. Compared to the embarrassingly poor post-sales support you get with almost every other Android device these days — even those you pay a thousand dollars to own (and yes, even with Project Treble in the equation) — that’s a pretty phenomenal kind of feature to have. And it goes a tremendous way in increasing the phone’s value over the time you’re likely to own it.

See where this is going? Just as the Moto G brought a previously unheard of level of quality to the budget realm in 2013, the Pixel 3a is bringing the type of user experience you used to be able to get only via a high-priced Pixel phone into the midrange arena. Sure, the phone’s plastic exterior is less premium than the regular Pixel’s glass-based body — but it certainly doesn’t look or feel cheap, and quite frankly, some people may prefer the more durable polycarbonate material to the more easily shattered glass casing. And yes, the 3a’s screen and processor are a step down from what’s present in its pricier sibling, but lemme tell ya: Unless you’re unusually tuned into that type of thing or crazy enough to be doing precise side-by-side comparisons, you aren’t gonna give any of that a single ounce of thought.

Back to the Moto G for a moment: In 2013, then-Motorola-CEO (and Google employee) Dennis Woodside said something telling, as paraphrased by The New York Times:

The low-end smartphone’s goal is not to be a flashy piece of gadgetry representing the latest innovation. It is an effort by Motorola to return to growth by reaching as many people as possible.

It’s true that no one was jumping up and down with excitement when the Moto G first came out — because, yes, it was by most measures a pretty boring phone. But you know what it accomplished? It brought a previously unattainable level of quality to the budget phone domain. From the looks of it, the Pixel 3a could take a page from its playbook and do the exact same thing with the midrange realm — particularly in the areas of camera quality, user experience, and post-sales software support, all three of which are incredibly important parts of the phone-using picture and yet are areas that have remained largely neglected in the midrange market.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered about how the Pixel 3a saga will play out and where exactly Google will go from here. And without a doubt, the biggest variable of all is how well Google itself will manage to sell the 3a’s message and convince prospective phone-buyers that it’s the right device for them (particularly now that the phone is available on almost all the major U.S. carriers — a privilege the regular Pixel phone hasn’t even enjoyed up til now).

If Google figures out how to sell the thing, though, the Pixel 3a has the potential to seriously shake up the midrange Android phone market and go down in history as the company’s modern-day Moto G — the affordable product that brought its message to the masses and made it into a serious smartphone player.

The seeds are certainly planted. Now it’s up to Google to grow them into something significant.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]



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An $80 iPhone 6, a $270 PlayStation 4 Slim, a $780 Google Pixel 3 XL, and More – Review Geek

The Google Pixel 3 XL, the PlayStation 4 Slim, and the iPhone 6
Google, Sony, Apple

Right now, the internet’s full of wild deals and discounts. These deals range from a $265 Nintendo Switch console to a $60 ASUS ZenFone 3, but as always, we’ve picked out a few favorites.

If you’ve been waiting to buy the PlayStation 4, now’s your chance to get one at a discount. Newegg is selling the PlayStation 4 Slim 1TB console for just $370 (coupon code EMCTATE27) and the PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB console for just $360 (coupon code EMCTATE27). If you aren’t into games, then you should be excited by today’s phone deals. Walmart is selling a prepaid iPhone 6 for $80, and Amazon is selling the amazing Google Pixel 3 XL for $860.

Laptops and Desktops

Need a new computer? Grab a Windows laptop, a Chromebook, or an iMac at a discount.

  • Samsung Chromebook 12.2″ 2-in-1 4GB RAM 64GB Storage, $486 ($115 off) [Amazon]
  • ASUS 14″ 4GB RAM 500GB Storage, $190 ($90 off) [Best Buy]
  • iMac 4K Retina Display 8GB RAM 1TB Storage Newest Model, $1,350 ($150 off) [Best Buy]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

Grab a cheap iPhone 6 or a new tablet for Mom.

  • iPhone 6 32GB Refurbished Prepaid, $80 ($150 off) [Walmart]
  • iPhone X 64GB Unlocked, $700 ($200 off) [Best Buy]
  • Google Pixel 3 XL Unlocked, $860 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Google Pixel XL 128GB Unlocked, $200 ($65 off) [Massgenie]
  • ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 16GB Unlocked Refurbished, $60 ($70 off) [Newegg]
  • iPad 9.7″ 128GB Newest Model, $330 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • iPad 9.7″ 32GB Newest Model, $250 ($80 off) [Walmart]
  • iPad Pro 11″ 64GB Newest Model Refurbished, $740 ($180 off) [Woot]
  • Kindle Paperwhite Newest Model with Special Offers, $90 ($40 off) [Amazon]
  • Fire 7 Tablet with Special Offers, $40 ($10 off) [Amazon]
  • Fire 8 Tablet with Special Offers, $60 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″ 16GB , $163 ($117 off) [Massgenie]
  • Apple Watch Series 4, $380 ($50 off) [Best Buy]

Smart Home Gadgets

Is your home falling behind the times? Grab a discounted smart assistant or some cheap smart bulbs.

  • Google Home Mini, $30 ($20 off) [Best Buy]
  • Google Home Mini + Chromecast, $44 ($41 off) [Best Buy]
  • Google Nest Hub, $72 ($28 off) [Massgenie]
  • Google Nest Hub 2-Pack, $134 ($66 off) [Massgenie]
  • Sony LF-S50G Smart Bluetooth Speaker with Google Assistant, $50 ($150 off) [Best Buy]
  • Echo Dot, $30 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Amazon Echo, $65 ($35 off) [Amazon]
  • Echo Plus, $120 ($45 off) [Amazon]
  • Echo Show, $180 ($50 off) [Amazon]
  • Portal From Facebook Alexa-Enabled Smart Display, $100 ($100 off) [Facebook]
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Voice Remote, $39 ($21 off) [Woot]
  • Roku Premiere 4K Streaming Stick, $30 ($10 off) [Amazon]
  • Blink Indoor Home Security Camera, $64 ($16 off) [Amazon]
  • Ring Video Doorbell, $84 ($15 off) [Massgenie]
  • Save Up to 58% on LIFX Smart Bulbs [Woot]

Video Games

Getting tired of your old games? Now’s the perfect chance to grab a Nintendo Switch or a discounted PlayStation 4.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $265 ($60 off) [Massgenie]
  • Fire Emblem Warriors Nintendo Switch, $20 ($40 off) [Massgenie]
  • PlayStation Plus 12 Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Membership $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • PlayStation 4 Slim 1TB Console, $270 ($30 off with coupon code EMCTATE27) [Newegg]
  • PlayStation Pro 1TB Console, $360 ($40 off with coupon code EMCTATE27) [Newegg]
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Xbox One, $20 ($40 off) [Best Buy]
  • Minecraft Xbox One $10 ($10 off) [Xbox]
  • Fanatical Mystery Egg Bundle 10 Random PC Games, $7 [Fanatical]
  • Up to 85% off Ubisoft PC Games [Fanatical]
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI PC, $20 ($40 off) [Steam]

Everything Else

Grab a ton of Pop-Tarts or a discounted pair of Reeboks.

  • Pop-Tarts Variety Pack 32-Count, $5 ($3 off) [Kroger]
  • Reebok 30% off Site-Wide [Reebok]
  • Up to 70% off All Audiobooks [Audible]
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 + Instant Film, $56 ($60 off) [Massgenie]
  • Insignia 8-Quart Pressure Cooker, $40 ($80 off) [Best Buy]
  • Ghostek NRGCamper 60L Solar Charging Backpack, $80 ($120 off) [Meh]
  • Amazon Music 3-Months Free [Amazon]

Good deals tend to disappear after a day or two. If one of these deals strikes your fancy (or you haven’t bought a Mother’s Day present yet), then it’s probably time to track down your wallet.





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3 burning questions about Google’s Pixel 3a

After years of rumors, anticipation, and speculation — and maybe the occasional related libation — Google’s midrange Pixel is finally a reality.

Google announced the Pixel 3a, as it’s now officially known, at its I/O developers’ conference this week. The device looks like the regular Pixel, acts like the regular Pixel, and even shares the regular Pixel’s exceptional camera — all the way down to its wildly impressive Night Sight low-light capability. It comes with the same guarantee of three full years of timely and reliable OS and security updates, too, which is something no other Android phone even comes close to matching.

And yet, the Pixel 3a sells for a measly $399 — $479 if you want the plus-sized XL version — compared to the regular Pixel 3’s $799 regular price (or $899 for the XL model of that device). Suffice it to say, that’s quite the dramatic difference.

For all we know about Google’s new midrange Pixel option, though, there are still some pretty significant unanswered questions — some bigger-picture puzzles that’ll help us fully understand the Pixel 3a’s impact on the greater Google ecosystem and Android landscape.

Think ’em through with me, won’t ya?

Question #1: How will the Pixel 3a’s presence affect regular Pixel sales?

We’ve been hearing a lot about Google’s Pixel sales numbers lately — most recently because of last week’s admission that Pixel sales had dropped from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. But as we also discussed in great detail last week, all signs suggest Google’s actually been doing quite well in the relative picture with Pixel sales and that while the entire smartphone industry has been struggling, Google’s by and large been bucking that trend and boosting its standing.

That brings us to the Pixel 3a: While it seems logical that the expansion of the Pixel line from a single high-priced model to a more diverse two-tiered setup could only be a good thing for adoption of the Pixel brand in general, it’s hard not to wonder what it’ll mean for sales of the regular Pixel phone, specifically. Will the presence of a phone that’s half the price and yet filled with most of the same standout features cause fewer people to flock to the regular Pixel? Will would-be Pixel purchasers — be they existing Pixel owners looking to upgrade in the future or new Pixel converts thinking about picking up their first Google-made phone — opt to get its less expensive sibling instead?

It’s true that the regular Pixel phone offers some significant advantages over its lower-priced 3a brother — not least of all its more premium build quality, with a glass-centric body instead of plastic, and its more advanced internals that make for a snappier all-around experience — but for a lot of typical phone-shoppers, those sort of differences may not be meaningful enough to justify the higher price tag. Surely at least some of the Pixel-purchasing crowd will be swayed to spend less and get a still-quite-similar lower-end phone, won’t they?

Pixel 3 vs Pixel 3a Google

The Pixel 3, at left, and Pixel 3a, at right

Google may be betting that the type of person who buys a premium phone is generally distinctive enough from the type of person who buys a value-oriented product that it won’t have a huge impact — and maybe the company is thinking, too, that the staggered launch schedule of the regular Pixel and the midrange model will balance things out to some degree. After all, if the regular Pixel line continues to churn out its new models around October and the midrange Pixel line continues to launch its products in May, that means this fall’s upcoming Pixel 4 will have about a five-month window in which the lower-priced version is a full generation behind.

Still, it’s an interesting question to consider — and one whose answer we won’t know for a while yet.

Question #2: What will the Pixel 3a’s arrival mean for Android One?

As we discussed on my podcast last week, Google’s Android One program has thus far basically been positioned as the midrange- and budget-level Pixel gap-filler — a way to get the same basic concept as a Pixel phone in a third-party device and at a lower price. Android One is in many ways a lot like Google’s Nexus program of yesteryear in that it offers phones made by regular Android device-makers but with unmodified Google software, no baked-in bloatware, and a “pure Google” Android experience.

Crucially, Android One phones also come with a contractually mandated guarantee of reasonably fast and frequent OS and security updates for two years from each phone’s launch date. The devices don’t typically get upgrades immediately, as Pixel phones do, but they tend to receive ’em within a few months of each release’s launch (which is far more than you can say for almost every other Android phone out there). So while Google has focused on the high end of the smartphone hardware spectrum, Android One has offered a similar sort of mindset — at a lower and less “holistic” level — for anyone who values an optimal user experience and ongoing software support but doesn’t want to pay Pixel-level prices for the privilege.

With Google now selling its own Pixel 3a for $399 — and bringing with it that same upgrade guarantee but for three years instead of two, along with the best-in-class camera no other device in that price range even comes close to matching — what argument remains for going with a third-party Android One device? The entire program was basically constructed to fill a gap that, at least at the midrange level, no longer exists. It’s a second-best option for something that now has a first-best choice.

To be sure, parts of the Android One ecosystem still have their own unique appeal — namely those that fall more into the budget price range than the midrange price level. If you’re looking to spend $200 to $300 on a phone, you can find a relatively decent Android One device that’s gonna be miles better than anything else you’d buy for that amount of money.

But once you start getting close to $400 — like with the Nokia 7.1, which costs about $350 and had previously been my go-to recommendation for someone looking to get a commendable Android experience at an affordable price — well, it gets much more difficult to think of a reason why you’d be well-advised to go with an Android One model over the Pixel 3a.

Has Google’s launch of the Pixel 3a effectively cannibalized Android One? Is there any reason for the program to exist or any motivation for manufacturers to continue to embrace it in the longer-term, outside of the still-gap-filling budget level?

And speaking of that budget level…

Question #3: Will we see a ‘Pixel 3b’ at some point in the foreseeable future?

I’ve long theorized that not only was a midrange Pixel inevitable — it was also inevitably going to be only the tip of the iceberg. As I’ve noted several times before, the entire point of the Pixel program was to “fix” Android, from Google’s perspective — to reclaim control over the platform and provide a vessel in which Google’s vision and its services can take center stage and shine. So why would Google want to limit itself to a single high-priced model? It doesn’t make sense.

Neither, frankly, does the notion of sticking to only a high-priced phone and also a midrange model. Expanding the Pixel line to include the more affordable Pixel 3a is certainly a significant step, but it’s hard for me to believe that’s where Google’s aspirations will end. I mean, think about it: A fair amount of folks around the world aren’t going to pay $400 for a phone. By starting the Pixel line at that price point, Google is effectively excluding all those people from its grand Android vision.

With a new, starting-from-scratch hardware program, it’s only sensible for Google take things one step at a time. So what’s the next step after this new midrange Pixel’s arrival? Will we see a budget-level option after this? And if so, when?

Not to do too much reading of the tea leaves, but I can’t help but notice that the naming convention Google opted to go with — “Pixel 3a” instead of the initially rumored “Pixel Lite” name — conveniently leaves the door open to a one-more-level-down “Pixel 3b” possibility. And as hardware costs continue to drop and lower-end components continue to get more and more capable, it’s quite conceivable to imagine Google creating a “Pixel-caliber” experience with budget level prices in another few years, just like it did with its Pixel-to-Pixel-3a progression from 2016 to now.

Ultimately, all we can do is wait and see how these areas play out. With every passing year, though, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Google is indeed playing its own game with its Pixel products — a game no one Android device-maker can compete with directly and a game that, still today, is just getting started.

Your move, Google.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]



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A $200 Google Pixel XL 128GB, an $800 MacBook, Civilization VI for $20, and More – Review Geek

SId Meier's Civilization VI, the Google Pixel XL, and the MacBook 12"
2K Games, Google, Apple

Ready to save some money? Now’s your chance to grab some new games and devices at a hefty discount, like a new $200 iPad or a $30 Echo Dot. But as always, we’re excited about three special discounts.

If you need a new phone, then you should check out the $200 Google Pixel XL 128GB from Massgenie. The Pixel XL is one of our favorite premium smartphones, and now’s your chance to grab it at a bargain-bin price. If you don’t need a new phone, then you should take a gander at the new $800 MacBook deal from Best Buy, and the $20 Sid Meiers Civilization VI deal from Steam.

Laptops and 2-in-1s

Grab the new MacBook or a Windows laptop at a discount.

  • MacBook 12″ 8GB Memory 256GB Storage Newest Model, $800 ($500 off) [Best Buy]
  • Samsung Chromebook 12.2″ 2-in-1 4GB RAM 64GB Storage, $486 ($115 off) [Amazon]
  • Lenovo Ideapad 15.6″ 16GB RAM 512GB Storage, $1,100 ($751 off) [B&H]
  • Lenovo Yoga Book 2-in-1 4GM RAM 256GB Storage, $700 ($100 off with coupon code LEN100) [Rakuten]
  • HP Laptop 15.6″ 4GB Memory 1TB Storage, $220 ($80 off) [Best Buy]

Keyboards, Routers, and Other Computer Accessories

Need some computer parts? Now’s a great time to grab a new router or a portable external monitor.

  • G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB DDR4 SO-DIMM Laptop Memory, $34 ($20 off) [Newegg]
  • Mobile Pixels DUEX Dual Screen Laptop Monitor, $195 ($55 off) [Woot]
  • 1 Port PCI Express 10 Gigabit Network Card, $154 ($106 off) [Amazon]
  • NETGEAR Dual-Band AC1600 Router, $120 ($40 off) [Best Buy]
  • NETGEAR Wi-Fi Range Extender, $30 ($17 off) [Amazon]
  • TP-Link Wi-Fi Range Extender, $22 ($9 off) [Amazon]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

Upgrade your phone or tablet at a massive discount.

  • Google Pixel XL 128GB Unlocked, $200 ($65 off) [Massgenie]
  • iPhone X 64GB Unlocked, $560 ($60 off with coupon code SAVE15) [Rakuten]
  • iPad 32GB Newest Model, $200 ($50 off) [Massgenie]
  • iPad 9.7″ 128GB Newest Model, $330 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • iPad 9.7″ 32GB Newest Model, $250 ($80 off) [Walmart]
  • Kindle Paperwhite Newest Model with Special Offers, $90 ($40 off) [Amazon]
  • Apple Watch Series 4, $380 ($50 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple Watch Series 2 Refurbished, $150 ($40 off) [Woot]
  • Magnetic Phone Car Mounts 2-Pack, $8 ($12 off) [Meh]

Smarthome Gadgets

Tired of living in a “dumb” home? Maybe it’s time to grab some discounted smarthome devices.

  • Google Home Mini, $30 ($20 off) [Best Buy]
  • Google Home Mini + Chromecast, $44 ($41 off) [Best Buy]
  • Google Home Hub, $72 ($28 off) [Massgenie]
  • Google Home Hub 2-Pack, $134 ($66 off) [Massgenie]
  • Google Home Max Smart Speaker, $280 ($120 off) [Massgenie]
  • Echo Dot, $30 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Echo Show, $180 ($50 off) [Amazon]
  • Portal From Facebook Alexa-Enabled Smart Display, $100 ($100 off) [Facebook]
  • Roku Premiere 4K Streaming Stick, $30 ($10 off) [Amazon]
  • iRobot Roomba 671 with Alexa, $230 ($120 off) [Amazon]

Video Games

Grab a cheap Nintendo Switch or a discounted copy of Civilization VI.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $256 ($54 off with coupon code SAVE15) [Rakuten]
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate + Switch Pro Controller, $94 ($47 off) [Massgenie]
  • PlayStation Plus 12 Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Membership $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Fanatical Mystery Egg Bundle 10 Random PC Games, $7 [Fanatical]
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI PC, $20 ($40 off) [Steam]
  • The Banner Saga 3 PC, $14 ($11 off) [Fanatical]

Everything Else

Make your bathroom reading a breeze with some discounted audiobooks and a premium bidet.

  • Up to 70% off All Audiobooks [Audible]
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 + Instant Film, $56 ($60 off) [Massgenie]
  • Brondell Swash 1400 Luxury Bidet Seat, $380 ($250 off) [Woot]
  • Schwinn 700c Herald Bike, $120 ($250 off) [eBay]

In a perfect world, everything would be sold at a discount. But in case you haven’t noticed, we aren’t in a perfect world. Be sure to grab your favorite deals before they’re gone forever.





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The 3 big asterisks everyone’s missing about Pixel sales

Oh-em-gee, you guys (and gals and non-gender-conforming readers who prefer to be called neither guys nor gals but are equally welcomed and appreciated): Didja hear?! Google’s Pixel sales are, like, totally tanking. The company’s entire self-made smartphone program is probably gonna be outright cancelled any second now — because it is just struggling and flailing and several other overly dramatic verbs.

That’s the narrative that seems to be building up ’round these here nets of inter at the moment, anyhow — but you know what? While it is based on a nugget of reality, it’s relying on an awful lot of wild conclusion-jumping. And it’s ignoring some pretty significant parts of the bigger smartphone picture.

Let’s break it all down and see if we can’t wrap our moist gray matter around what’s actually happening, shall we?

Google Pixel sales: The cold, hard facts

First, the foundation of all this chatter: In its quarterly earnings report this week (zzz…oh, hello!), Google parent company Alphabet revealed that sales of the Pixel phone had dropped from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. The company’s Person With An Important-Sounding Acronym-Based Title said it was “in part” because of “heavy promotional activity industry-wide” resulting from the “recent pressures in the premium smartphone market.”

Allow me to translate that out of corporate robot-speak: In this one particular quarter of the year, Google sold fewer Pixel phones than it did during the same quarter one year earlier, possibly because every other phone-maker was marketing the hell out of its higher-profile high-end devices in order to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of new phone purchases. By how much Pixel sales fell, we don’t know. In fact, beyond that one little tidbit of info, we don’t know much of anything specific on the subject.

What we do know, however, is the broader context surrounding Google’s Pixel phone, its purpose, and its broader position in the smartphone market. And that knowledge is critical to keep in mind when trying to understand this recent revelation. Context, as we’ve said approximately 79.2 gazillion times in this column over the years, is everything.

In this case, three big asterisks stand out as being particularly relevant to Google’s Pixel program progression:

1. Multiple signs suggest Google’s market share is actually rising — and that smartphone sales in general are just having a tough time

Two different market analyses in recent months have pointed out an intriguing pattern: that throughout parts or all of 2018, Google’s position as a premium phone-making player has improved considerably while the smartphone market on the whole has slumped.

The most recent such report came along just a couple weeks ago from analysis firm Counterpoint. Its freshly compiled data indicates that Google broke into the elite club of top five “premium smartphone brands” for the first time in both Western Europe and North America when looking at sales numbers throughout all of 2018. In North America, specifically, Google was the third most successful premium smartphone player, according to the company’s data — coming in from nowhere and outperforming everyone other than Apple and Samsung for that 12-month period.

Google Pixel Sales - Counterpoint Research Counterpoint Research

Findings from another analysis firm seem to support that same general pattern: Back in February, Strategy Analytics found that Google’s Pixel brand was the “fastest-growing major smartphone brand” across the entire U.S. market for the fourth quarter of 2018 — outperforming everyone, including Apple and Samsung, in growth for that period.

In fact, the firm notes, U.S. smartphone shipments on the whole dropped by 23 percent during that time — one that includes the traditionally fruitful holiday season, no less — while Google’s Pixel shipments shot up by a whopping 43 percent. Quite the contrast, to say the least.

Google Pixel Sales - Strategy Analytics Strategy Analytics

Suffice it to say, that context matters. The real story here seems to be that smartphone sales have been tough all around for a while now. Just this week, IDC noted that global phone shipments fell nearly 7 percent in that same first-quarter time frame at the heart of the Pixel conversation, with decreases experienced by everyone other than Huawei (which operates outside of the U.S. market). Heck, even the typically bulletproof-seeming Apple has seen plummeting iPhone income in recent quarters, with The Wall Street Journal estimating a 17 percent drop in iPhone-related revenue for the first-quarter period.

So when we talk about the state of Pixel sales in this present moment, we have to bear in mind that bigger picture of what’s going on everywhere as all of us (understandably) hang onto phones for longer and phone-makers increasingly lean on silly gimmicks with no practical value to try to goad us into opening our wallets more often. Equally important, we have to remember that, by multiple accounts, Google has managed to buck those trends in many recent periods.

Plain and simple, it’s all relative.

2. Google still sells the Pixel only in a single U.S. carrier’s stores — and across a measly 12 countries

Here’s where things get especially interesting: That aforementioned relative progress has been happening despite the fact that Google’s Pixel phone is presently sold only by Verizon in America. Sure, the phone is compatible with any U.S. network and can be bought unlocked directly from Google and then used wherever — but nonsensical as it may seem to us earthlings in the know, the vast majority of phone-buying humans in America still waltz into carrier stores when they’re looking to buy new phones. And in the vast majority of U.S. carrier stores, the Pixel doesn’t exist as an option.

What’s more, from the get-go, the limited marketing of the Pixel has served to reinforce the idea that the phone is available only to those on Verizon — with misleading language describing the device as a “Verizon exclusive” or saying it’s available “only” on Verizon’s network. You and I may know that’s a carefully crafted (and likely contract-driven) game of semantics, but an average Joe hearing such phrases immediately assumes the phone isn’t available to him on his non-Verizon carrier and thus isn’t relevant to his life.

It’s a painfully archaic method of distribution that brings to mind the early days of smartphone sales — when “carrier exclusives” were common and people were willing to switch providers in order to get some exciting new device. These days, even with the “exclusivity” being limited to where the phone is physically sold, all such a setup does is severely limit the exposure and distribution of the associated product.

Compare the Pixel’s availability and marketing with that of the iPhone’s or the latest Galaxy device’s — in the U.S. and beyond — and the fact that Google’s phone brand is generally managing not only to hang on but also to increase its relative position in the market over time is a practically miraculous feat.

3. What we’re seeing now is still only the tip of the iceberg

Beyond those two colossal areas of consideration, there’s one more asterisk to acknowledge: Unlike nearly every other phone-maker out there right now, Google has just a single phone model for sale at the moment (in two sizes) — and its phone brand has existed for a mere three-and-a-half years.

From day one, the company has made it clear that this is a long-term plan with modest short-term expectations. In an interview with The Verge in late 2016, Google Hardware VP Rick Osterloh laid it out as plain as could be:

“We certainly aren’t going to have enormous volumes out of this product. This is very first innings for us.” Google’s metric of success for Pixel won’t be whether it picks up significant market share, but whether it can garner customer satisfaction and form retail and carrier partnerships that Google can leverage for years to come.

When you think about everything we just discussed in the previous two points alongside that logic, it all takes on a pretty different meaning — doesn’t it?

And the story doesn’t end there.

The bigger Pixel picture

Abstract goals aside, signs suggest Google is on the brink of unveiling a lower-priced, midrange model of its Pixel phone — and that the phone’s launch could be accompanied by an end to Verizon’s “exclusive” deal on selling the Pixel line in America. Given everything that’s happened so far with the Pixel being sold only by a single U.S. carrier, imagine how things could progress with the phone being available and promoted in even two carriers’ stores across the country.

Consider, too — as I’ve ruminated before — that, logically speaking, a midrange Pixel is almost certainly just the start of the Pixel line’s expansion:

At its core, the Pixel was designed to “fix” Android, from Google’s perspective — to provide a vessel for the platform in which Google’s vision and its services can take center stage and shine. Google’s made no bones about this. And ultimately, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Google and for you: You get the best-in-class setup the “full Google experience” provides, while Google gets all the business benefits that come from having you fully committed to its services.

[So] of course Google wants to expand beyond a single pair of high-priced Pixel models. Of course the company has always intended to offer more affordable “Google experience” options. …

An announcement of a midrange Pixel in and of itself may not seem like an earth-shattering development, but like so many other things in the Google universe, you have to see the forest for the trees. You have to realize that this’ll represent the beginning of a whole new phase in a massive, multipart effort — and you have to consider the broader canvas that’s slowly but surely being filled in, one little corner at a time.

Remember, too, that Google isn’t like most other device-makers. Its primary goal with the Pixel almost certainly isn’t to move billions of units immediately and turn Alphabet into a company that depends on hardware sales for a sizable chunk of its income. Google, first and foremost, is an ad company. It makes the vast majority of its money by selling ads that are shown on the internet — and practically everything it does ends up supporting that effort in some way.

To once again quote a devastatingly handsome writer I know, with the Pixel, Google is playing its own game — and, specifically:

The Pixel supports Google’s core business by providing a standard of comparison to which other Android devices are already being held. It demonstrates the benefit of putting Google services front and center in a way that lets them shine (and in a way other Android manufacturers often opt to avoid). It gives Google its own fully-controlled vessel both for Android itself and for the various other software developed alongside it — and that, in turn, allows Google to better advance both the overall user experience it presents and the individual software elements it then pushes out to countless devices across multiple platforms.

The benefit to us as users is apparent in the products, but this approach also pays off for Google — because the better Google’s services and software are, the more time people will spend using them. The more time people spend online, the more data Google is able to collect and the more effective ads it’s able to deliver.

See how this all comes together? The long-term picture of how successful Google’s Pixel program proves to be simply isn’t something we can assess in any meaningful way at this point. Yes, there’s little real question that Google has a long way to go in terms of figuring out how to effectively market its products, get them out in front of phone-buyers, and make sure even average Joes understand what value they offer over the often-flashier alternatives. And yes, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Google may give up or otherwise get in its own way and muck things up at some point along that path.

For now, though, trying to extrapolate broad meaning from a limited window of sales numbers — and viewing that data without the full context around it — is nothing more than lazy conclusion-jumping. The tech-watching world has long suffered from a tendency to see things from a myopic perspective. In order to appreciate the true picture of what’s going on with Google’s phone program, we need to put on our glasses and look beyond the single snippet of data that’s right in front of our faces at this one particular moment — because that single snippet of data is but one small piece of a much bigger story.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]



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Google Drops Pixel 3 Price By Half For Project Fi’s Birthday

Google is making it quite a bit easier on the wallet to get a Pixel 3 right now, as the company has reduced the cost of the phone by 50%. That’s a pretty massive discount on one of the best-rated Android phones on the market. And that discount applies to both the standard Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Of Course, There’s a Catch

Obviously, Google isn’t offering this deal out of the kindness of its heart, and there is a small catch to get the lower price—you’ll need to be new or existing Google Fi user. As long as you’re interested in signing up for Google’s phone service, or you’re already on board with it, then you can get a really good phone at a ridiculously cheap price.

Google Drops Pixel 3 Price By Half For Project Fi's Birthday GooglePixel3Half

First, the standard Pixel 3 with 64GB of storage is on sale for $399. Normally, that phone sells for $799. If you need more storage, the 128GB version is currently listed for $449, discounted down from its $899 regular price.

If you want a larger phone, you can get the 64GB Pixel 3 XL for $449. The 128GB version of that phone is currently $499. Those devices normally sell for $899 and $999 respectively.

How Long is the Deal Available?

Because this deal is all about celebrating the anniversary of Google Fi


Is Project Fi Worth It? 7 Things to Know Before You Switch




Is Project Fi Worth It? 7 Things to Know Before You Switch

Google’s Project Fi is a low-cost but powerful mobile plan. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking of switching to Project Fi.
Read More

, it’s only available for the duration of April 22, 2019. That means you’ll have to order your device by midnight PST today if you want to get the huge savings.

Also, in order to get this deal, you’ll need to activate your device on Google Fi within 30 days of shipping, which stands to reason since Google is attempting to attract new users to its service with this deal. You’ll also need to make sure you activate the phone on the same account that purchases it. If you don’t do both of those, Google will automatically charge the Google Payments account to match the normal price.

Explore more about: Google Pixel, .



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5 Google Pixel Camera Software Features You Should Be Using

Since its inception, the camera has remained the cornerstone of the Google Pixel line of phones. By leveraging the heaps of data it collects, Google has been able to push the boundaries of mobile photography. Through software, the company managed to replicate advanced features, normally for which other OEMs bundle two, three, or in some cases, four cameras on the rear.

So how do those camera modes function without special hardware? Here we explain the Google Pixel’s best camera features.

1. HDR+

Google HDR+ tech explained
Image credit: Google

HDR+ is Google’s take on the traditional HDR mode found on most smartphones today. It’s important to understand the latter before we dive deeper into how Google approaches the concept.

In HDR photography your phone, instead of taking a single picture, takes multiple shots at varying exposure levels. That allows the camera to gather more data of the scene and produce a result that more accurately renders the highlights and shadows. It does so by mashing those different frames together through complex algorithms.

So for instance, there are scenarios where you’re trying to capture an image of someone standing in front of a bright background and in the outcome, either your friend is completely in the shadows or the background has been blown out. This is where HDR comes in and balances your frame’s lightest light and darkest dark.

Since on phones, this whole process is automated, it can be a little tricky for companies who don’t have an enormous dataset to train their algorithms. There are other shortcomings as well. Compared to professional cameras, your phone sensor is much smaller which leads to noise when it stays open for too long.

Google’s HDR+ tries to solve all of this. It too involves capturing a bunch of pictures and processing them later. But unlike the rest, Google’s phones take several underexposed shots and merge them through algorithms that are trained on a massive dataset of labeled photos.

Since HDR+ doesn’t go through a wide spectrum of exposures like traditional systems, there’s also much less motion-blur in pictures and noise. To ensure all those computations don’t slow your phone down, Google has even begun to integrate a dedicated, proprietary chip called the Pixel Visual Core from the Pixel 2 series.

2. Night Sight

Arguably, the most impressive piece of camera tech developed by Google’s software team is titled Night Sight. When enabled, the feature is capable of taking nearly-dark scenes with almost no light and magically yielding a well-lit picture.

Night Sight, which is even available on the first-gen Google Pixel, is built on top of the company’s HDR+ technology. Whenever you hit the shutter button with Night Sight turned on, the phone clips numerous shots at a bunch of exposure settings.

The information processed is then passed on to the algorithms for understanding the scene’s various details like the shadows, highlights and how much light there actually is. Through this learning, the camera app stitches together a much more illuminated picture without amplifying the grain.

3. Super Res Zoom

Digital zoom is another critical drawback of mobile photography Google has tried to tackle with software instead of dedicated hardware like others.

Called Super Res Zoom, the feature promises up to 2x digital zoom without compromising any details. It uses the same burst photography technique Google employs for HDR+ and Night Sight. But here, it doesn’t go for a range of exposures.

For Super Res Zoom, the camera captures multiple shots at various angles. So does that require you to move physically? Not at all. In the case of zoomed-in pictures, even the slightest hand movement is enough for a different angle. So Google is essentially using your hand tremors to accumulate more information.

Google has a solution for if your hands are too stable or for when your phone is mounted on a tripod as well. In those scenarios, the lens will actually wiggle a bit to replicate hand movements which is simply astonishing.

The phone utilizes all that data to capture a photograph with far more details digital zoom normally would have produced.

4. Portrait Mode

Google Pixel Portrait Mode explained
Image Credit: Google

While the majority of manufacturers include additional cameras for depth-sensing, Google achieves Portrait Mode with software. For this, the camera app begins by taking a normal photo with HDR+. Then, with the help of Google’s trained neural networks, the phone tries to figure out the primary subject. That could be a person, a dog or just about anything else.

To ensure it doesn’t mess up the edges, Google’s Portrait Mode benefits from a technology called Dual Pixel. In layman’s terms, it means every pixel the phone captures is technically a pair of pixels. Along with better focus, the phone, therefore, has two viewpoints for evaluating the distance between the background and foreground.

This is crucial because Pixel phones don’t have multiple sensors for calculating the depth. Lastly, the phone blurs everything except the subject mask it has finalized.

Wondering how to get the feature on your phone? Here’s an easy guide to use Portrait Mode on any Android phone


How to Get Portrait Mode on Android




How to Get Portrait Mode on Android

Want to use Portrait Mode on your Android device? Here’s what Portrait Mode does, how to use the built-in features, and the best apps with Portrait Mode.
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.

5. Top Shot

With Pixel 3, Google introduced a new, clever camera feature called Top Shot. As the name suggests, it lets you select a better shot than the one you clicked.

To do that, the camera takes up to 90 images 1.5 seconds before and after you tap the shutter key. And when it detects flaws such as motion blur or closed eyes, it automatically recommends an alternative picture. You can manually choose one from the lot as well, although only two of them will be high-resolution ones.

Since Top Shot is an extension of Motion Photos, it doesn’t affect your camera’s performance.

Simple Tricks to Boost Your Smartphone Photography

While there is a lot Google’s software does for you, a few complicated scenarios still demand some extra effort on your side. To master those shots, we recommend mastering these simple tricks that can significantly boost your smartphone photography skills


10 Simple Tricks to Boost Your Smartphone Photography




10 Simple Tricks to Boost Your Smartphone Photography

There are a few tips that are especially useful when you’re taking shots with your phone; they’ll help you take your pictures from “blah” to “fantastic” in no time!
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Explore more about: Google Pixel, HDR, Smartphone Camera.



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Google Pixel, Apple iPhone, OnePlus, and More

These days, high-quality photography is no longer the preserve of those with expensive DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. With a combination of smart software and the latest hardware, smartphones can now give the traditional cameras a run for their money.

If you love taking pictures, here are the best smartphones with great cameras that you can buy right now.



Google Pixel 3


Google Pixel 3

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$698.99

Since their initial launch, it has been widely acknowledged that Google’s Pixel range of Android smartphones has some of the best cameras around. The Google Pixel 3 is no different. However, on paper, it might not seem like it. The Pixel 3 has a single 12MP, f/1.8 aperture camera.

But coupled with Google’s software, that mid-range hardware turns into something spectacular. This is particularly evident when using the HDR+ mode. It gives the Pixel 3 photos an incredible dynamic range that makes them pop, while still retaining their natural colors. This mode technically takes multiple photos and then blends them to create the optimum exposure level.

The Pixel’s Night Sight mode lets you take well-lit night time photos without using the flash. The difference between a regular picture and a Night Sight picture is striking. It captures and enhances details that other cameras wouldn’t even pick up.



iPhone XS


iPhone XS

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$999.99

The iPhone XS has a dual camera system; one wide-angle and one telephoto lens. Apple has also included a Smart HDR mode, similar to Google’s HDR+ on the Pixel.

The smartphone maintains the iPhone’s reputation as the best point-and-shoot camera. It sticks to Apple’s it-just-works design philosophy, so taking a photo is as simple as tapping the shutter button.

The iPhone XS takes reasonable shots in portrait mode, though it can struggle in low-lighting conditions. But give it enough natural light, and your photos will shine.



OnePlus 6T


OnePlus 6T

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$637.95

If you’re a camera enthusiast with a mid-range budget, the OnePlus 6T is a good option for you. It sports a 16MP primary sensor and a 20MP secondary camera for digital zooming along with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). Just like with the Pixel, the 6T uses software to enhance photos taken in portrait mode.

The camera opens without delay and has similarly fast autofocus as well. The HDR mode isn’t comparable to the Google Pixel, or even the iPhone XS, but it still represents colors well and has a wide dynamic range.

The OnePlus 6T’s low-light performance is quite good and certainly better than the iPhone XS. Outdoor scenes are balanced. But outdoor and zoomed-in shots can be noisy. You can capture 4K video at 60 fps. The 6T also comes with a Pro camera mode. If you’re familiar with manual controls, there are options for ISO, focus, and exposure.



iPhone XR


iPhone XR

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$749.00

The wide-angle camera in the iPhone XR is similar to that found in the iPhone XS. Where the two devices differ is in their implementation of portrait mode and optical zoom. However, the iPhone XR is substantially cheaper than the XS. So, if you can get by without those features, then you could save yourself money.

The 12MP wide-angle camera supports Apple’s Smart HDR mode. Plus, it simulates portrait mode shots using a single camera, in a similar way to Google’s Pixel phones. However good the implementation is, though, it’ll never quite reach the same standard found on the XS.

That said, the iPhone XR is a good value device that shares image quality, photo-taking experience, and 4K video recording with its more expensive sibling.



Huawei Mate 20 Pro


Huawei Mate 20 Pro

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$790.00

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro packs a three camera configuration on the rear; a primary 40MP wide-angle lens at f/1.8, a 20MP ultra-wide lens at f/2.2 aperture, and an 8MP telephoto lens at f/2.4. Plus, it comes with Huawei’s AI image stabilization and 4K video recording at 30 fps.

The Mate 20 Pro performs well in daylight conditions, but despite its 40MP sensor, it struggles to compare to the Pixel and Google’s camera software experience.

The camera is quite versatile; the images are rich in detail, and the photos are well exposed. Thanks to the high-resolution sensors, the Mate 20 Pro captures more details in high-contrast settings. If taking photos in low light is a constant struggle for you, then you’ll be pleased by the camera’s Night Mode.



Moto G6 Plus


Moto G6 Plus

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$233.54

A high-performance smartphone camera usually comes at a cost, but not with the Moto G6 Plus. This budget-friendly device features an octa-core processor, full HD screen, 4GB of RAM, and a surprisingly good camera.

The phone has a 12MP primary lens, along with a 5MP depth sensor. Photos taken outdoors are reasonable, even if the dynamic range is a bit limited. Compared to the crisp, detailed images you’ll get from many of the phones above, the Moto G6 Plus does occasionally allow noise to slip into your photos.

However. the G6 Plus is substantially cheaper than the others in this list too. Given that, its performance actually exceeds expectations at this price point. The low-light photos come out well, and HDR mode helps adjust the contrast and makes the colors pop.

The Best Smartphone Camera for You

The smartphones included on this list range from flagship devices, all the way to budget phones. In many cases, the more expensive devices do indeed perform the best and will result in the best looking, highest quality images. However, many regard the Google Pixel 3 as the best smartphone camera you can buy today.

Most flagship devices now come equipped with multiple cameras. Whether you’re interested in a smartphone that has two, three, or even four cameras, you may be wondering why your phone needs more than one camera


Why Does My Phone Need More Than One Camera?




Why Does My Phone Need More Than One Camera?

Does your smartphone have multiple camera lenses? Here’s why, and how, multiple lenses can enhance smartphone photography.
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. Ultimately, the best smartphone camera for you will be the one that suits your needs and budget.

Explore more about: Buying Tips, Digital Camera, Google Pixel, iPhone X, Smartphone Camera, Smartphone Photography.



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