Google has officially launched the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL to compete with affordable premium devices from other Android vendors. With the Pixel 3a duo, Google has kept the best of the premium Pixel 3 phone while making compromises on other aspects to bring down the price. Xiaomi’s Mi 9 flagship is a direct competitor to the Pixel 3, delivering better specs at a lower price. The Chinese company also sells a more budget-friendly Xiaomi Mi 9 SE that could give the new Google Pixel 3a tough competition.
Google Pixel 3a vs Xiaomi Mi 9 SE: Design
The Mi 9 SE has a much better design than the Pixel 3a. The Pixel 3a measures 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2mm and weighs 147g. It gets 3.5mm headphone jack, which is missing from the Mi 9 SE. Google has used a plastic body on the Pixel 3a. It has a dual-tone finish similar to the more expensive Pixel 3. The rear panel houses a single camera and a circular fingerprint reader.
The Pixel 3a comes in Just Black, Clearly White, and Purplish color options. The device has thick bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. There is no display notch. Google has added dual stereo speakers, including a bottom-firing one.
Google’s handset lacks IP68 water-resistance. Instead, it comes with splash and dust resistance. It also borrows the Active Edge feature from its premium siblings, allowing users to activate Google Assistant by squeezing the phone.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE measures 147.50 x 70.50 x 7.45mm and weighs 155g. It has a nearly bezel-less design with a dot notch to accommodate the selfie camera. The Mi 9 SE has a thin chin at the bottom. It looks and feels like a premium smartphone. Xiaomi has launched the device in Ocean Blue, Lavender Violet, and Piano Black color options.
The Mi 9 SE lacks the 3.5mm audio jack. It has a triple camera setup on the back. While the Pixel 3a has a plastic body, the Mi 9 SE’s rear panel is made out of glass. The fingerprint sensor is integrated under the display, allowing users to unlock the device by putting their finger on the screen. It also has facial recognition, but that’s more about convenience than security.
The Google Pixel 3a comes with a 5.6-inch gOLED display. It has a Full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Though the display is not Super AMOLED, it is still OLED. It delivers vibrant colors and truer blacks than LCD screens. The display is protected by Asahi’s Dragon Trail Glass rather than the more commonly used Corning Gorilla Glass. It has a relatively lower 75.0% screen-to-body ratio, thanks to thick bezels all around the display.
The Mi 9 SE has a 5.97-inch Super AMOLED display with a dot notch. It has a Full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. It has an impressive 90.47% screen-to-body ratio and 432ppi of pixel density. The screen is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5.
The Google Pixel 3a runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset paired with Adreno 615 graphics processor. It comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. There is no microSD card slot for external memory. The internal storage is limited but Google offers unlimited free cloud storage of photos and videos via Google Photos in their original resolution.
Google has added a Titan M chip for security. The Pixel 3a also supports AR Core framework for augmented reality. The device is powerful enough to deliver super smooth performance, thanks to Google’s software optimization. The device features a 3,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging. The fast charging technology offers 7 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging. It doesn’t support wireless charging.
In contrast, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE runs Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 712 processor with Adreno 616 graphics processor. It packs 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal memory. Just like Pixel 3a, it doesn’t support external memory. It offers a smooth gaming and multitasking experience.
The Mi 9 SE packs a 3070mAh battery with 18W fast charging via USB-C port. Xiaomi assures users that the battery easily lasts a full day of normal usage.
Both handsets run Android 9 Pie out of the box. The Pixel 3a runs the stock version of Android 9 Pie with no bloatware. Google promises three years of security patches and software updates. The device also features Google’s call screening, which allows the AI assistant to answer calls for you to see if the call is a spam or not.
On the other hand, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE runs MIUI 10 skin on top of Android 9 Pie. The MIUI has a refined design, but it brings a lot of bloatware. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to uninstall any of these pre-installed applications.
This is the biggest strength of Google Pixel 3a. The device gets the same camera setup as Google Pixel 3, which has garnered a lot of praise. It features a 12.2MP lens on the back with f/1.8 aperture, EIS, OIS, and 76-degree field of view. Google has used Sony’s IMX363 sensor. It is capable of recording 120fps videos at 1080p and 30fps videos at 4K. On the front, it has an 8-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture.
The Pixel 3a gets tons of AI features to improve the photography experience. Though it has a single lens on the back, it uses AI algorithms to take portrait images. Other features include Night Sight, HDR+, Super Res Zoom, Playground Mode, and Top Shot.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE sports a triple camera setup on the back. It consists of a 48MP primary lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens with f/2.4 aperture, and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture. The phone has a 20MP lens on the front for selfies.
Google has priced the Pixel 3a at $399 in the United States. It will be available for purchase from Google Store and retailers like Best Buy. Google has also partnered with Verizon, US Cellular, T-Mobile, and Sprint to sell the new phones. Unlike the premium Pixel 3, it won’t be exclusive to Verizon. The smartphone has also become available for order in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and a few other countries
Xiaomi has brought the Mi 9 SE to markets beyond China. In European countries, the Mi 9 SE has been priced at €349 for the 6GB+64GB version. The 6GB+128GB model is selling for €399.