Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL Tips and Tricks

Pixel 3a

Last week, Google unveiled its new mid-range Pixel 3a and 3a XL handsets. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL compromise a bit on the chipset and build quality to offer the same UI and software experience as the Pixel 3 series. The handsets are already on sale in 13 countries across the world. If the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL is your first Pixel or Android device, there’s a lot you need to know about them. Check out our top tips and tricks for the Pixel 3a series to make the most out of them.

The below tips and tricks will help you know about those little but useful features on your Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL.

Best Hidden Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL Tips and Tricks

10. Shoot RAW Photos

The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL offer the same camera experience as the Pixel 3 series. This means they feature the same 12.2MP rear shooter with f/1.8 aperture, large 1.44um pixels, OIS and EIS. Thanks to Google’s computing prowess, the Pixel 3a series can capture some stunning photos at its default setting itself. However, if you for some reason you want more control over the final output, you should consider shooting photos in RAW. This will then allow you to tweak the photos in post processing and control the final output.

To shoot RAW photos on the Pixel 3a, open the Camera app, swipe to the More tab. From there, head to Settings -> Advanced and enable the RAW+JPEG control option.

You can directly edit RAW photos on your Pixel 3a series by using apps like Snapseed. Try to shoot RAW photos on your Pixel 3a on selected occasions itself as DNG photos take up a lot of space which is a bit limited on the handsets.

Pixel 3a camera

9. Swipe down for Notifications

Like the Pixel 3 series and unlike the Galaxy S10 series, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL come with a traditional fingerprint scanner at the back. Apart from being fast and accurate, it also offers one handy gesture: you can swipe down on it to expand the notification shade. Another swipe down will bring up the Quick Settings panel. You can also swipe up to collapse the notification panel.

The gesture is disabled by default so you have to first enable it from Settings -> System -> Gestures -> Swipe fingerprint for notifications.

8. Active Edge

Like the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 3a series also features Active Edge. This means you can simply squeeze the edges of the phone to trigger Google Assistant. What more — you can use Active Edge for more than just Google Assistant. You can silence incoming calls, alarms, and timers by simply squeezing your Pixel 3a.

If you want to adjust the squeeze sensitivity of Active Edge on the Pixel 3a, go to Settings -> System -> Gestures -> Active Edge.

7. Delete Old Photos Automatically

With only 64GB of storage space and no microSD card slot, space is definitely a premium on the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. That’s a shame since the phone’s rear camera can take some stunning photos which means you are likely to click more photos with the Pixel 3a than other phones.

To ensure that space is not an issue for installing new apps and clicking photos, you can enable the Smart Storage feature on your Pixel 3a. This will ensure that all old photos backed up to Google Photos are automatically deleted to free up storage space. The default limit is of 30 days but you can increase it to 60 days or 90 days as well.

Enable Smart Storage from Settings -> Storage.

6. High-quality Unlimited Storage in Google Photos

Unlike the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 3a series does not offer unlimited storage for original quality photos. Instead, you get unlimited backup storage for ‘high-quality’ storage. This means photos backed up from your Pixel will be compressed by Google. The compression algorithm is pretty good so there’s unlikely to be a noticeable loss in quality.

5. Launcher Shortcuts

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL come with a regular FHD+ OLED screen. While they lack 3D Touch, Google has baked a similar functionality into the OS itself. Dubbed Launcher Shortcuts, you can press an icon on the home screen to directly jump into its settings or trigger one of its features. For example, long press the camera app icon on your home screen will show you options to take a selfie or a video directly.

While third-party apps also support launcher shortcuts, they need to be updated by the developer to take advantage of this.

4. Call Screening

One of the highlights of Pixel phones is Call Screening. Available only in the United States, Call screening will automatically screen calls for you to ensure you don’t have to waste time attending spam calls.

Sadly, as mentioned, this feature is only available in the United States for now. You will automatically see the Screen call option whenever you receive an incoming call.

Call Screening

3. Run Apps in Split View

The Pixel 3a series might not pack as much raw horsepower as the Pixel 3 series. However, they are still powerful devices that can multitask between multiple apps at once. Even better, you can run two apps in Split View on the Pixel 3a series.

For this, you need to open the Recent Apps view, tap the app icon you want to run in Split View and then select Split Screen. Then proceed to select the second app you want to run in split screen.

2. Switch Cameras Quickly

Want to quickly switch between the front and rear camera of the Pixel 3a? All you need to do is twist the phone in a screwdriver like motion when the camera app is open. Doing this will make you switch between the front and the rear camera or vice versa.

If this gesture does not work for you for some reason, enable it from Settings -> System -> Gestures.

1. Night Sight

If you purchased a Pixel, you must have already heard about Night Sight. By using its computational prowess, Google is able to put the Pixel’s camera on steroids in Night Sight mode which allows it to capture some amazing photos even when there’s pitch darkness.

The whole highlight of the Pixel 3a series is that despite its budget price tag, it features Night Sight mode. Switch to Night Sight mode from the Camera app by tapping the More button.


What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL? Drop a comment and share them with our readers!