In a nutshell: Google's Pixel phones still live in the shadow of the best Samsung and Apple have to offer, but that doesn't mean the series is failing. According to a recent report, Google had its best Pixel sales ever last year, with the phones shifting 7.2 million units---more than what OnePlus managed.

The figures, from analyst firm IDC, don't break down individual model sales, but it's safe to say that the bulk of the 7.2 million came from the two handsets launched in 2019---the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4---though the Pixel 3 also contributed. With the Pixel 4, which launched in October, estimated to have sold only around 2 million units in its first six months, it appears that Google should be thankful for the Pixel 3 and 3a. Overall, Google's shipments were up 52 percent year-on-year.

While the Pixel 4 wasn't loved because of its lackluster battery life, aging design, and lack of expandable storage, and the Pixel 4 XL has similar drawbacks along with a higher price tag, the Pixel 3a is, and remains, an excellent buy for the money. Until the Pixel 4a arrives, it's a great budget option for those who don't want an iPhone SE.

Francisco Jeronimo, Associate VP of European devices at IDC, says Google shipped more of its phones last year than OnePlus, though he never said by how many. He did add, however, that the company "is still far from reaching Top 10."

With both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 set to arrive this year, Google could find its YoY sales rising again in 2020---assuming the Covid-19 effect doesn't scupper those plans---but it's still got a long way to go before reaching the hundreds of millions of sales boasted by the top manufacturers.

If you're looking to buy a new handset, make sure to check out our Best Smartphones feature.