System Performance

System performance of the Pixel 3a XL is an interesting topic given its mid-range SoC. Here as aforementioned in the introduction, the CPU power of the SoC should match up with that of the Snapdragon 835 from 2 years ago. The Snapdragon 670 in the Pixel 3a has two Cortex A75 derived CPU cores running at 2.0GHz, while the Snapdragon 835 had four Cortex-A73 derived cores at 2.45GHz. In general, the 22% clock frequency disadvantage should be compensated by the ~25% higher IPC of the newer core microarchitecture. It should be noted that the Snapdragon 670’s CPU cores aren’t expected to perform quite as high in IPC as the Snapdragon 845’s as it employs smaller cache configurations to reduce die size and cost. Thus it should be pretty much a toss-up between the S670 and the S835.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

Starting off with the web-browsing workload in PCMark, the newer Pixel 3a does manage to stay ahead of the Pixel 2 XL, while as expected lagging behind the 2018 and newer devices.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing workloads has hardly any significant performance differences on devices of the last few years, and the Pixel 3a performs well here although it’s to be expected.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The Writing 2.0 sub-test is the most important of PCMark. The Pixel 3a still manages to hold up well with some Snapdragon 835 devices and even some S845 phones such as the Galaxy S9 and Note9.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The photo editing score is competitive, again in line with the Snapdragon 835 generation.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data manipulation framerate performance is in line with the Pixel 2 XL.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Overall in PCMark, the Pixel 3a performed surprisingly well. It was able to keep up with the Pixel 2 XL whilst even competing some of the worse Snapdragon 845 flagships from last year. There’s still evidently quite a larger gap to the more recent Pixel 3, but again that’s to be expected.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

The web-browsing JS tests is where we’ll see more major differences to the Snapdragon 845 and newer devices, again, whilst the Snapdragon 670 performs well against the 835, it does have a significant lag behind newer generation SoCs.

Overall Performance – Very Good For Mid-Range

Overall I was very satisfied with the performance of the Pixel 3a XL. It was extremely snappy in everyday usage, and if all you do on a smartphone is social media-like activity, then you’d be hard to press to find any differences between the 3a and other flagship devices.

Where the Pixel 3a more notably fell behind in was web browsing and loading of heavier pages. Here it was evident that there is indeed quite a generational performance gap and the mid-range SoC isn’t quite able to give the same experience.

One thing to note and again we can’t accurately measure with existing tools is the storage performance of the eMMC module of the phone. I did notice quite significantly slower installation speeds compared to newer phones. It’s not a total deal-breaker as some eMMC implementations of years past, but again it’s a compromise Google had to make to reduce the costs of the phone.

Overall, system and application performance of the Pixel 3a XL is very good for a mid-range device.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance - Cold Stuff
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  • jjj - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    400$ and up is high end by any standard, not mid range.
  • Megatomic - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    In a world where flagships cost ~$1K USD you believe $400 USD is high?
  • RSAUser - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Yes, 400 is starting flagship if you look at what's currently in the "mid range" section. Just because Apple made everyone up flagship prices, doesn't mean all our budgets went up.
  • Hrel - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Couldn't agree more, $400 still stands as my absolute max. Sony offers vastly superior products for the price, granted you gotta wait 3-6 months after release but legit, who cares?

    I have no idea why Anandtech doesn't review Sony phones, especially when they're so vastly superior to so much else, especially Huwai which they shouldn't even be mentioning on here. Chinese crap.

    Huwaii is communist evil crap, get it off this site!
  • piroroadkill - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    You're thinking relative - that's meaningless - thinking in absolute terms in this case is much more useful. Yes, phones that cost more than 400 USD could easily be considered expensive.
    The fact flagships cost a grand is irrelevant - the pricing they've decided on is beyond ridiculous - it doesn't mean our window should shift
  • sonny73n - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    “In a world where flagships cost ~$1K USD you believe $400 USD is high?”

    In your small world maybe. I still can’t believe that this day and age where we have all the infos on the internet, most people in the West still have their heads stuck in the toilet. Not many of them how much, say an iPhone cost to manufacture. They only instantly believe the phone worth at its retail price. When something only costs about $350 to manufacture, labor and all, but sell to you for more than $1k is nothing but a rip-off. Capitalism at its finest.

    Yoi can get a flagship phone for less than &400. You just have to get your head out of the toilet first.
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, July 4, 2019 - link

    Yes, ONLY in the West=_=
  • AdditionalPylons - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    High end refers to the statistical distribution of prices. For smartphones nowadays, $400 is definitely not the high end.
    As the prices have gone up over the last years, so does the level which depend on the distribution, such as the terms "high-end", "mid-range" and "low-end".
    That said, I agree that $400 and can still be described with the words "expensive", "a lot of money", "not worth it" etc., but then we're more into subjective terminology.
  • warreo - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Obvious troll is obvious.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Agreed, pricing is way out of line and there are many, many more affordable options out there. Just because the maximum price for a phone is far north of $1k these days does not mean that dividing by two results in mid-range. That is a delusional state of mind the industry would like to promote and only a few people are mindless enough to buy into.

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