Forget the iPhone SE: The Pixel 3a just dropped to $249

Google Pixel 3a
(Image credit: Future)

Google looks poised to reveal the Pixel 4a any moment now, and we’ve seen more evidence of that in the form of a severe Pixel 3a price cut. And it's arrived just in time to take on Apple's affordable iPhone SE 2020.

Currently, Best Buy is selling the Pixel 3a with $150 sliced off the price, dropping it down from $399.99 to $249.99. For that, you get the 64GB model in Clearly White, Just Black, Not Pink. and Purple-ish colour options. 

Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a: Was $399 now $249 @ Best Buy
Google's midrange phone is currently available for $150 off at Best Buy, making this affordable flagship an even better value.

There’s a small caveat to the deal, in that you have to activate it on either Verizon, AT&T or Sprint right away. If you want to hold off the activation, then Best Buy will sell you the Pixel 3a for $299, which is still a decent $100 saving. 

With the Pixel 4a on its way, going for the Pixel 3a might seem like a backwards move. But even though it’s set to be superseded, the Pixel 3a is still an impressive phone, with smooth performance and a brilliant camera that holds up to higher-end flagships thanks to Google's AI smarts. 

Google equipped the Pixel 3a with pretty much the same rear camera as the Pixel 3, only without a dedicated signal processing chip. But it still put in some hugely impressive phone photography results that are on par with the Pixel 3 as well as some of the best Android phones out there.

It also comes with the powerful Night Sight low-light photography mode, which the  iPhone SE 2020 — the Pixel 3a’s newly revealed rival — can’t offer. The Pixel 3a features a 5.6-inch OLED display, which beats the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone SE, at least in size.

The Pixel 3a also benefits from having a pure version of Android 10, with only the rather slick Pixel Launcher UI on top of stock Android. Not only does this make using the phone trivially easy when compared to some of the more convoluted Android skins from other phone makers, it means the mid-range Snapdragon 670 accompanied by 4GB of RAM doesn’t get bogged down in extra UI elements. 

It also retains some nice design touches that other phones have shunned. The rear fingerprint scanner is super-fast and reliable. And there’s still a 3.5mm headphone jack on this Pixel phone, whereas the flagship-grade Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 phone have both dropped the port in favour of wireless and USB-C headphone connectivity. 

The only shortcoming to the Pixel 3a is its chassis is looking a little dated in comparison to more modern phones with bezel-less displays. The Pixel 3a has a reasonably chunky forehead and chin. But this gives the Pixel 3a a rather pleasing utilitarian design; it’s not a slab of glass you’re going to constantly need to worry about dropping or scratching. 

For $249, the Google Pixel 3a is still a thoroughly excellent phone with access to some of the best software and camera features Google has cooked up.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • ralphwiggum1
    Uhh, what? Pixel 3a, last year's mid-range phone with mid-range components to match that needs hoops to be jumped through to get a slightly discounted price... versus iPhone SE 4.7, the entry-level model which matches the high end specs of the expensive models and has a CPU that bests the top of the line available to Android at a very reasonable price and will get 5 years of support...and people should go out and get the 3a which will be out of updates a year from now?
  • RobTheComputerGuy
    I agree with @ralphwiggum1 - but I'd take it up a notch. The iPhone SE 2020 is as fast as both iPhone 11 models. In a single core test, it was faster than both iPhone 11 models.

    Anyone - and I mean this seriously - who thinks a Snapdragon 6xx processor is usable would be dead wrong. I've used phones from 3 different manufacturers with 6xx processors and they seem to have some pep during the initial few weeks, but when the device hits the RAM limit or starts to fill up storage, the device starts hanging regularly. Sometimes the hanging just won't go away.

    A Snapdragon 4xx processor is only barely slower than a 6xx.

    Snapdragon 8xx processors seem to have no trouble, ever, and I don't know why we're allowing phone manufacturers to push us to buying new phones on a cycle that is far in excess of what's necessary. A phone with an 8xx processor from 3 years ago was still so fast that it was unjustified for the mfr. to stop giving out Android updates.

    And Google's Pixel phones have a shockingly poor track record as of late that is far in excess of any other Android mfr.

    The idea that the latest chip from Apple (which would put it in the league of a Snapdragon 8xx) should be compared to a Snapdragon 6xx processor from last year sounds to me like someone's making a blog post so they can drum up some affiliate sales, and nothing to do with any kind of honest assessment of the two products.

    Nobody interested in an iPhone SE 2020 should think that a Pixel 3a is a comparable product in any way and I hope you edit these rabid posts to get that straightened out for your readers.