Google Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL were announced to an enthusiastic response at the Google I/O 2019. After all, the new mid-range Pixel phones claim to offer a flagship camera output and smooth Android experience with timely updates at a much lower asking price than the Pixel 3. But the price reduction has also resulted in compromises such as no dual front cameras on the Pixel 3a pair, lack of wireless charging support, and a less premium polycarbonate build. Another setback that is not as well-highlighted is the lack of Daydream VR support. Yes, Google's own phones are incompatible with the in-house VR platform.
While the company has not gone into much detail as to why the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL don't support the VR platform, the decision has reportedly been made after encountering “resolution and framerate” issues. However, it is not clear whether the aforesaid issues have something to do with the display used on the Pixel 3a pair or if there are any VR-linked limitations associated with the Snapdragon 670 SoC powering the two phones.
Whatever the root cause may be, it is a bit surprising to see a Google-made phone being incompatible with the company's own Daydream VR platform. What this means is Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL users won't be able to enjoy VR content by mounting the phone on a supported VR headset like Google's own Daydream View VR headset, both the first gen and the second gen iteration.
However, if you own any of the flagship Pixels, be it the original Pixel, Pixel 2 or the Pixel 3, they play well with the Daydream View headset. While cost-cutting in the hardware department makes sense, eschewing the in-house VR platform support is certainly a surprise, and a little disappointing as well. So, no VR content from the Daydream ecosystem for Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a users, and a step back for Google at the same time.