Knowledge for the World

A new Raspberry Pi was just released! Introducing the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

A throwback form factor and price.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation just announced the newest member of the Raspberry Pi family in a surprising mid-November release.

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ features a slimmer form factor, lower price tag, and a nod towards the future of the SBC (single-board computer).

While maintaining nearly computing power as the previous Raspberry Pi 3 B+, the A+'s $25 price tag and low-energy Bluetooth capabilities make it an attractive option for a wide variety of projects.

Why?

As the Raspberry Pi Foundation explains, the 3+ platform is the final iteration of the current Raspberry Pi, suggesting that a complete refresh (at least in design, specifications, and size) is somewhere on the horizon:

... the 3+ platform is the final iteration of the “classic” Raspberry Pi: whatever we do next will of necessity be less of an evolution ...

"Back in March, we explained that the 3+ platform is the final iteration of the “classic” Raspberry Pi: whatever we do next will of necessity be less of an evolution, because it will need new core silicon, on a new process node, with new memory technology. So 3A+ is about closing things out in style, answering one of our most frequent customer requests, and clearing the decks so we can start to think seriously about what comes next."

It seems they're preparing us for drastic changes by shifting from the same size and general layout that we -- and our cases and accessories -- have become accustomed to.

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Raspberry Pi model naming has always been a confusing part of the Raspberry Pi experience*:

  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+
  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ <-- you are here
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Form factor

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ board is the same size as the original Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+.

This "throwback" form factor might make it challenging to find cases that fit for a short while, but if you have a 3D printer, there are already cases available to print on Thingiverse.

This smaller size also means many more project possibilities!

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Key differences

There are several key differences in this new version:

RAM

This Pi has half the RAM as its predecessor (512MB vs. 1GB). This trade-off allows for lower power consumption and the lower price tag. This is an intentional downgrade.

Size

Obviously, this board has a much smaller form factor.

Thermal management

The A+ features better built-in thermal management to keep your project form overheating.

USB ports and management

The A+ features only a single USB port. Again, this board's release was meant to mimic the original design. Of course, with bluetooth and USB hubs, this is not an issue. I predict future versions of the Pi will switch fully to USB C port(s) to save space.

Ethernet port (or lack thereof)

The LAN port is gone; but who needs it when most projects are WiFi anyways? Actually, for more network-intensive projects, the LAN port is great. I predict it will make a return in the next, "fuller" size version fo the Pi.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

The Model 3 A+ adds BLE to the Pi, enabling its use for a wider variety of projects while consuming far less energy. This is great news for a lot of makers out there!

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Specifications

Again, the 3A+ features nearly the same specifications as the 3B+, though notably the RAM has been halved to 512MB:

  • Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4GHz
  • 512MB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11.b/g/n/ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2/BLE
  • Extended 40-pin GPIO header
  • Full-size HDMI
  • Single USB 2.0 ports
  • CSI camera port for connecting a Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • DSI display port for connecting a Raspberry Pi Touch Display
  • 4-pole stereo output and composite video port
  • Micro SD port for loading your operating system and storing data
  • 5V/2.5A DC power input

The 3A+ also requires slightly lower power to run, improving mobile projects.

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Price

The 3 A+ can be had for $25, a full $10 cheaper than the 3 B+'s $35 price tag.

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You can find the 3 A+ at the normal Pi retailers:

.. As well as at Micro Center and, soon, Amazon and Target.