The Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL go on sale on May 15. Google's new budget-friendly handsets will compete in India's premium smartphone segment currently dominated by OnePlus.Sohini Mitter
Google just unveiled its least expensive Pixel smartphone in history. The new Pixel 3a is being touted as the "$399 phone" and comes at almost half the price of past Pixel handsets.
In India, the Pixel 3a will be available at a starting price of Rs 39,999. Pixel 3a XL, the larger variant of the device, is priced at Rs 44,999.
Now, these might be attractive prices for a device sporting the premium Pixel brand, but given the wide availability of feature-rich smartphones in India at much lower price points, Google might have overpriced its hardware yet again.
The Pixel 3a comes with a 5.6-inch screen, a Snapdragon 670 processor, a 4GB+64GB internal storage, a 3,000-mAH battery, a 12MP image sensor, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phones run Android 9 Pie straight out of the box.
However, unlike its previous devices which sported premium frosted glass backs, Google has switched to polycarbonate this time to bring down production costs.
It has also partnered with Reliance Jio and Airtel in India to enable the eSIM functionality on Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL handsets. An eSIM is embedded within the device that lets you launch the smartphone without having to insert a physical SIM. The phone, however, also comes with a regular SIM tray.
Pixel 3a will be available exclusively on Flipkart from May 15. Google is also bundling a three-month subscription of YouTube Music Premium with the device.
Speaking at Google's annual I/O meet, CEO Sundar Pichai said that “building for everyone” was at the core of the company. In the past, Pixel phones have been criticised for being out of reach. Hence, Google came up with a budget-friendly offering less than a year of the launch of its flagship Pixel 3 (Rs 71,000). Pixel 3 XL prices went as high as Rs 92,000 (depending on storage capacity).
Industry-watchers say that a cost-effective Pixel handset will open up new opportunities for Google in emerging markets like India, where until now, the internet giant hasn't been able to make much impact with hardware. Its global peer Apple, too, has less than a 1 percent share in the smartphone market.
According to Counterpoint Research, the Rs 30,000-plus smartphone category in India is poised to grow 30 percent, and the Pixel 3a will be able to woo several "first-time users" who want premium handsets at not-so-premium prices.
"With Pixel 3a, we’re giving people the same features they love on more affordable hardware," Google said in a statement.
However, given the intense competition in India's smartphone universe, with players like OnePlus occupying nearly half of the premium segment, and others like Huawei which has established itself with genuinely attractive offerings, and Samsung, which is on a comeback trail, it is left to be seen if the Pixel 3a can make any dent in the minds of Indian buyers.