Best answer: The Pixel 3 is still a compact, powerful phone with years of guaranteed software updates ahead of it — but with Google showing off the Pixel 4 already, I recommend either catching the Pixel 3 on sale, grabbing a Pixel 3a for half the price, or waiting for the next one for that sweet Motion Sense.

The Pixel 4 is on the horizon...

Normally, we'd still be in full-on rumor mill mode for the Pixel 4, but Google itself has been teasing the Pixel 4 more than any flagship maker has in recent years. Even though we won't see the Pixel 4 for two months (or more), we already have a mostly complete picture of what the phone looks like and what it can do, namely that it's going to have a Soli sensor and robust IR sensors for Motion Sense facial recognition and air gestures.

If you're the type that always wants the latest thing and can hold onto your current phone for another two months, I recommend waiting for the Pixel 4 with one important caveat: if you prefer a fingerprint sensor to facial recognition for locking and unlocking your phone, you'll need to grab the Pixel 3. The Pixel 4 will very likely not have a fingerprint sensor as we don't see one on the back and there's been no mention of an in-display sensor.

… But the Pixel 3 is still great today

Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 has been out for nine months with solid performance for those who care about a clean software experience and timely updates above all else. The software has been clean, battery life has been mostly decent, and it also has one of the best photography experiences on a smartphone, combining a great sensor with Google's intelligent software features to create stunning, DSLR-like images with each shot.

The Pixel 3 offers clean and fast software, an amazing camera, and a compact body.

That being said, issues have cropped up with the performance of that camera. It can be extremely slow to open at times, and in some cases photos taken don't even save to the gallery. There's also finally some competition for the Pixel 3 with the Huawei P30 Pro, which has low light performance that's somehow even better than that of the Pixel 3 at times. You also get the added benefit of both telephoto and ultra-wide lenses, neither of which the Pixel can match — though the P30 Pro is a much bigger phone than the Pixel 3, and Huawei's future isn't completely clear at the moment.

If you can find the Pixel 3 on sale, like it was on Prime Day, then it's absolutely a great buy. At $650 on Amazon at the time of this writing, which is $90 more expensive than it was on Prime Day, the Pixel 3 is still a good value. Just steer clear of the $800 list price it's still sporting at the Google Store, Best Buy, and Verizon.

The Pixel 3a costs hundreds less than the Pixel 3 and offers the same great camera experience.

There's one other very important phone to keep in mind when considering the Pixel 3: the Pixel 3a. Announced at Google I/O 2019, the Pixel 3a is virtually indistinguishable from the Pixel 3 at first glance. It has the same design language (albeit with a polycarbonate casing, rather than glass) and offers the same minimalist Android interface and even the same camera — all for just $400.

This puts a huge damper on the value proposition of the Pixel 3. If photography is your sole priority, there's almost no reason to spend the extra money on the 3, since the 3a has the same sensor and even offers Night Sight. You do sacrifice some features, though; the Pixel 3a lacks a wide front-facing camera, as well as hardware amenities like water resistance and wireless charging. The processor isn't as fast, either, leading to noticeably slower performance, and you only get 64GB of storage with no paid upgrades or microSD expandability.

If those premium features are important to you, the Pixel 3 is still absolutely worth considering, but many people will be perfectly fine with the cheaper Pixel 3a.

Catch it on sale

Google Pixel 3

Stunning cameras and Android the way Google intended.

The Pixel 3 isn't a dramatic upgrade over last year's model, but it makes minor improvements that all add up to a more cohesive experience with clean, intuitive software and some of the best cameras in mobile.

Lower price, same experience

Google Pixel 3a

A core Pixel 3 experience — and camera — for hundreds less.

The Pixel 3a has the same software, feature and camera experience as the much more expensive Pixel 3, but at a more enticing price point. The processor might be a little slower, but otherwise it's the same phone for a fraction of the price.

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