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New Pixel 3a Renders Don’t Impress, But Why Should They?

Leaked renders supposedly showing the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are out, giving us a glimpse at what Google's long-rumored budget Android phones could look like when they arrive as soon as next month.

It's not an especially breathtaking view, but why the heck should it be?

Pixel 3a renders (Credit: Android Headlines)

(Image credit: Pixel 3a renders (Credit: Android Headlines))

The renders, posted at Android Headlines and described as "official end product images of the next two phones from Google," showcase a pair of rather ordinary-looking smartphones. In an era that's becoming increasingly known for phones with edge-to-edge displays and minimal bezels, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL are throwbacks to an earlier time where smartphone screens were sandwiched between a lot of unused space at the top and bottom.

Google isn't exactly known for the ground-breaking design of its smartphones. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL released last fall look all right, but they don't catch the eye the way an iPhone or one of Samsung's Galaxy flagships do. In that sense, it's hardly surprising that the Pixel 3a render would produce a shrug rather than a gasp.

MORE: Google Pixel 3a Rumors: Release Date, Price and Specs

That reaction is even more understandable when you consider Google's reported approach to the upcoming Pixels, which are intended to be lower-cost handsets that broaden the appeal of the Pixel lineup in an age of increasingly expensive smartphones. Since the Pixel 3a and 3a XL will supposedly offer the same top-notch camera features as the more expensive Pixels, Google is going to have to find other areas in which it can contain costs. One of those will apparently be the materials Google uses on the Pixel 3a — plastic is going to replace glass and metal — and that's going to have an impact on design.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL look like throwbacks in another way, and this is one is likely to be a welcome one. You can see a headphone jack on the top of each model, suggesting a return of the feature Google dropped with the Pixel 2. The 3.5mm jack was on the top of the original Pixel models, too.

Pixel 3 XL (left) and Pixel 3 (Credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: Pixel 3 XL (left) and Pixel 3 (Credit: Tom's Guide))

One thing that seems a little off about these Pixel renders is that the 3a and 3a XL look to be the same size to the naked eye. Rumors surrounding the two phones suggest that the XL model will have a 6-inch screen, compared to the 3a's 5.6-inch display.

Android Headlines suggests the 3a is thinner and that the two phones have different aspect ratios, but we'd be surprised if the Pixel 3a XL is as tall as the 3a when those phones do ship. After all, the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL is noticeably taller than the 5.5-inch Pixel 3 when you place those phones side by side.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL could arrive very soon. Earlier this week, Google posted a teaser at its online store promising "something big" arriving May 7.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.