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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  • UtilityMax - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    The low Best Buy prices are for those who are activating a new carrier line. Without activation, the S8 is 500USD, and S9 is 600.

    I'll take a 400 Pixel 3A easy. Besides price, no round edges is a great win.
  • Alistair - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    My nephew trashed the babysitter's phone and needed to buy a new one recently. I really wanted to buy a Pixel 3A, but it is absolutely trashed by the value of the A50 from Samsung imo. $375 vs $550 in Canada.
  • Stormbolter - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    I would like to point that for the rest of the world, Google offers a clean Android Experience that Xiaomi, Huawei or Honor don't offer on the same price range - although Xiaomi, Nokia and Motorola do offer Android One devices, these are lower end, with worse camera and screen.

    And that the price difference fails to include VAT. Pixel 3a retails for 399/479€ in Spain. The Mi9 retails for ~449€ in the amazon marketplace, but stores (and phone providers) sell it for about 499€. Of course, if you're willing to forego warranty and such, you can import the phone for less, but then... so can someone living in USA (as long as they stick to GSM providers).

    Finally, Chinese flagships have all but done away with the phone jack, and middle class offerings tend to be lacking the good camera and screen flagships have.

    So, Pixel 3a /3a XL is a good option if you want a clean Android Experience, with a decent camera and screen, at a reasonable price.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    The Mi9 is 393€, VAT included, directly from Xiaomi on
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Xiaomi phones like the Mi9 can also be had in the US (Amazon and other online retailers). A possible alternative if one sticks to the GSM-based carriers (AT&T, T-MOBILE). However, make sure at least some of the LTE channels are covered by the modem.
  • RSAUser - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    The Nokia devices are definitely not lower end.
    The Nokia 8.1 has a better SoC, which is clocked higher plus HDR support for camera, with a slightly worse battery but the SoC is more power efficient and also has a Google Camera port. It delivers all of that at about 350 EUR inc. of taxes, but sadly not available in the U.S. for you folk.
  • voicequal - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    The headphone jack brought me to the Pixel 3a. It's been great so far. Now if dedicated home and back buttons would make a comeback, UI productivity would be back up to where it was on my first Android phone.
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    No idea why "reviews" post how a phone looks or is "prone to scratches". Everyone uses a case anyway with a phone. You see many car reviews about them worry about scratches on them? Nope, its about the insides and engines.

    Just stop with the headphone jack nonsense, its not a big deal at all. Every test shows people can't tell a different sound wise vs wired with a phone. I've yet to find anyone in real world who cares. Hell most people prefer bluetooth over wired anyway for workout, running, work, etc.
  • Ratman6161 - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Have to agree on the looks of a phone. My beautiful blue S9+ had a black plastic case on it before I even left the store. Its too darned expensive to take a chance on using it case-less.

    On the headphone jack...thats another matter. I have a set of blue tooth headphones (used with a TV set, not my S9). Sound quality is fine for my purpose. The problem is that they have a battery. So yet another thing that needs to be kept charged. Workout + running? Why would I want to run with a big honking phone strapped to my arm? For that I need something simple and cheap which is why I'm using my trusty old SanDisk MP3 player.
  • Inteli - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    I'm so glad you're here to tell all us plebians what we need and what we don't need. Of course nobody needs wired headphones! We also don't need anything above 128kbps MP3s. You're lying if you say you can hear a difference. You also don't need a car. Everybody in the city gets by fine without them! Your opinion is obviously the only one that matters and every reviewer should cater to exclusively what you think is important.

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