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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  • Threska - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - link

    How many of the "dropped phones" will have alternative firmware (implying unlocked boot-loaders)?
  • MadManMark - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    I went with those four reasons plus one more:

    5) When it came out the Google Store offered a deal where you could get $250 trade-in for an iPhone 6, and on top of that give you a $100 googel store credit. I didn't have an iPhone 6s, but bought a refurb for $60 and mailed that in. So net cost of new Pixel 3a was $210, and a $100 google store credit came with it.
  • voicequal - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Pixel is as much about the software value as hardware. Samsung phones are getting cluttered with unwanted or inferior software (e.g. Bixby). It's even worse if you buy from a carrier and get all the shopping apps, fortunately some can be uninstalled. The pixel direct from Google is the best way to get a clean Android phone.
  • Ratman6161 - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    On Samsung phones, Package Disabler Pro is your friend :)
  • Oyeve - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    There has not been "carrier bloat" in years.
  • Ashinjuka - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Nor software updates.
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, July 4, 2019 - link

    Sure, buy a slower phone that's over two years old, has worse battery life and camera. Who wouldn't sign up for that?
  • UtilityMax - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    The Best Buy price is 500 without activating a new line (I don't do business with sketchy people out of ebay) and Android Pie is the last update this phone will receive.

    Also don't forget that the Pixel 3A has MSRP exactly at 400 bucks, will receive updates for three years.
  • Sparkyman215 - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    I still use an OG Pixel XL and this 3a looks like it has pretty similar specs, but with a better camera, better screen ratio, larger battery, and better CPU. While not huge jumps, at $480, it's neat to see how it's better than my ~$900 3 year old phone.
  • Quantumz0d - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    In NA also this will fail. Most of the NA market is based off Carrier financing options then there is a mindset of iPhone esp the SE and the latest 7.

    Then we get to the Samsung phones S9 all being available at Bestbuy for $400 to 500 Brand new unlocked. LG G7 is also there unlocked at less
    Although LG is not great in numbers but after Apple, Samsung, LG sells a lot. Then perhaps OnePlus and Honor.

    Ebay, Exynos Note 9 is at $550 and far cheap for all flagship phones from Sammy and LG again. Impossible to beat any of these Discounted flagships.

    Then we have Zenfone 6, all these phones have UFS + SD slot which is mandatory. Even Motorola has them in all phones.

    Google is just too fucking greedy. Stupid SoC and cheap build. The OLED is not bright, no SD slot. Priced at $500.

    Asian market this is DOA.

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