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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  • MadManMark - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    Andrei: I, you, and every person in North America could get the 3a for $210 right after it came out, no carrier or financing needed, just by buying directly from Google Store and signing up for a $250 trade-in for an iPhone 6. We just then bought a refurb iPhone 6 from another site for $60 and !voila! you have a Pixel 3a for $210, free and clear. That deal ran for a full month. ***and*** for part of that month, googel aslo threw in a $100 future store credit. Reply
  • UtilityMax - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    Why buy a new car at MSRP when you, and every person in America, could go to an Oprah show a couple years ago and get keys to a new VW car. Duh! Reply
  • SonjaTWilliams - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - link

    nice Reply
  • Rorqual - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    I bought a Pixel 3a a few days after its availability, in order to replace an aging Nexus 5X, and am very happy with it.
    - About pricing: there was a promotion and for €400 a Google Home Mini (60 € value) got bundled, so net price for the phone is €340 which is I think not a bad deal for what I get.
    - Plastic casing: for me it's a huge plus. I certainly don't want any glass backpanel, so slippery and fragile. And I'm one of those who don't use a protective case (a few scratches here and there aren't a problem to me).
    - Design: good enough, classic and functional. No notch is mandatory, I can't stand them.
    - Stock Adroid: again, mandatory. I can't stand the Samsung interface, for instance. Some others are more tolerable, but still I prefer stock Android.
    - SoC performance: good enough for my usage, that is browsing, GPS and some random apps (very few games). Way faster then the 5X, everything feels so fluid now.

    So with such specifications, the 3a is a godsend.
  • MadManMark - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    "So with such specifications, the 3a is a godsend."

    Frankly the main thing its missing is an SD slot. But I guess I've finally given up that fight ... I think this is the first phone I've ever had that doesn't have one.
  • InvidiousIgnoramus - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    "Mid range"
    I remember when this term still referred to $200-300 devices. I paid less than this for my last two flagship devices, and neither were even a year old.
  • grant3 - Friday, July 5, 2019 - link

    In those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Reply
  • DontTreadOnMe - Friday, July 5, 2019 - link

    Xiaomi Mi9 may be more competetive on price in Europe, but at the time of writing people are complaining that they are still on the April 2019 security update. This is a consideration that severely restricts choices. The question is: what are the real costs of staying un-patched for longer? Reply
  • pika2000 - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    In reality, does updates really mater? I mean in reality, how many Android phones without the most current updates get breached? Considering the marketshare, we would've heard plenty of news about phones on 2018/2017 security patches and/or on Oreo/Nougat and below being breached. But we don't. Reply
  • gronetwork - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    This is a light version of the Google Pixel 3 XL, the processor has also 8 cores, with lower frequencies, it has the same quantity of RAM memory, the camera is similar, the battery capacity is larger, as well as the battery life. It is a good deal even if the performance is 35% less.

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