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

    "Besides, it wears off on devices that are constantly being fondled by their owners."

    Alright everybody, stop "fondling" your phones. People are starting to talk. :-D
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    The lack of microSD is a huge pain in the arse for people that use their phones as primary compute devices. That's been a brain dead move on Google's part for a long time now so it isn't a surprise. Also, mid-range and $400-500? Someone is on some good drugs if they're positioning a device with that kind of price in the middle as it falls in on the lower end of insanity, a fair bit above high priced. Reply
  • UtilityMax - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    So your phone is the primary storage for all your data, documents, music, tax returns, games, etc? Interesting choice.. Reply
  • sing_electric - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Even in North America, the value proposition of the Pixels kind of falls apart when you look at actual "street" pricing - Samsung's and LG phones often go on sale for significantly less than their MSRP (even at or near launch), and carriers (and the OEM) tend to fofer more generous trade-ins than Google seems to be willing to do.

    I've seen the S10e - S855, more RAM and more (and faster) storage, wireless charging, multiple cameras - go on sale for $500, just $20 more than the 3a XL, and its screen size slots it directly between the smaller and larger Pixels.

    Not that any of it matters, though, because Google's done such a terrible job marketing the Pixel line that I don't think they'd be a sales hit no matter what...
    Reply
  • melgross - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Almost nobody buys Pixel labeled products, just as they didn’t buy Nexus labeled products before them,

    I understand that Google is trying to, at least partly, move away from being an advertising company, needing more user data in order to survive. But their hardware is a waste of time. It’s never going anywhere, just like Microsoft’s hardware, other than the XBox, which they’re still losing money on.
    Reply
  • Speedfriend - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    "Almost nobody buys Pixel labeled products" that is why they were the third best selling phone type in the US and 5th best in western Europe in Q4 2018 Reply
  • MadManMark - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    All you just did here was demonstrate to knoweldgable readers that we should ignore all the other posts you made to this thread because you simply don't know what you are talking about. Reply
  • darkswordsman17 - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    Er, that's a weird argument considering the sales that happened immediately on the Pixel3A. Especially for older Pixel owners (1 or 2) where they were effectively getting it for free after trading in their older Pixel. There's sales on all sorts of phones, so unless its an official MSRP change, then reviewers need to based their value propositions on that. Many people do not quality for some of those sales as it requires new activation or adding a line and good enough credit (or the ability to pay MSRP+tax and then get it back via bill credits). Or various other loops you have to jump through.

    What other marketing do you want them to do? I watch as little content that includes commercials as possible but I saw as many Pixel ads as I saw iPhone ads when I did. Not only that, but its not like they need the marketing, anytime they bring out a new phone the entire tech media discusses it just like they do iPhones and Samsung's phones. They don't sell like either of those, but I don't think that was ever Google's actual intent with the Pixel stuff.
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    All the "cheap" new phones require activation of new line, or contract, or some kind of monthly payment plan. Moreover, the carrier branded LG phones are probably the worst garbage I have seen among android phones. Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Thursday, June 27, 2019 - link

    The article says the Pixel 3a XL compares well to the S835, but the charts show it comparing well to the S845, which is found in the Samsung Galaxy S9+. In fact, the S8/S8+ that would have the S835 SoC isn't even in the chart. Reply

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