Phones Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a XL, Plus A Tale of Several Threads

Dj64Mk7

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2013
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You might remember me as the one who switched to Android with no regrets. Well, as it turns out I did have a few regrets, mostly relating to the PH-1 hardware. I returned to the iPhone in early November by way of trading in my iPhone 7 Plus for an iPhone XS Max. I'm now stuck with that phone for about 28 months. Great. In early December, I sold the PH-1 for slightly more than 2/3 of what I originally paid for it.

So comes my fist introduction to the Google Pixel line when I went ahead and picked up a Pixel 2 XL for roughly $130 than what I originally paid for the PH-1. Why did I do the stupidest thing imaginable and trade the damn phone into GameStop for literally 1/4 of what I paid for it? God only knows.

One thing was very clear, however: the Pixel 2 XL was my second-favorite Android phone (behind my 2013 Moto X), and my third favorite phone of all time (iPhone SE holds the top spot). I absolutely cannot stand the display cutout on my iPhone XS Max. I never thought it would bother me so much. I swear that I grew to hate it even more now than when I first got the phone.

I've been using the XS Max as my only phone since the middle of February 2019. But let's face it: iOS is complacent, and since I've been living without an Apple Watch for a few months in preparation of selling it, I see no reason to force myself to stick with complacency (since, when the watch is removed from the equation, Android, and Google services, is absolutely superior.

Why am I rambling? There's a point, don't worry.

I'm stuck with a very difficult decision. The Pixel 3a XL is a perfect phone, except for the Snapdragon 670 and lack of the Pixel Visual Core. The Pixel 3 is a high-end phone with a Snapdragon 845 plus the Pixel Visual Core. How well does the Snapdragon 670 hold up in real-world usage? Is it comparable to the Snapdragon 835 in the PH-1 or the Pixel 2 XL? Since I will be holding onto the phone for at least two years, should I have any legit concerns about the longevity of the Snapdragon 670? The most taxing thing I do with my phones is run navigation (Apple/Google Maps) and listen to music (Apple/YouTube Music) at the same time, usually with a few messaging apps and/or the browser (Safari/Chrome) open in the background.

Users of both these phones:
How does the non-XL Pixel 3 stack up to the iPhone XS Max?
How does the Pixel 3a XL stack up to the non-XL Pixel 3?
How does the Pixel 3a XL stack up to the Pixel 2 XL?
How does the Pixel 3a XL stack up to the Essential Phone (PH-1)?

Any anecdotal evidence that one is better than the other is highly appreciated.
It's also worth mentioning that I'll be buying from Best Buy, where I can get $100 off in the form of a $50 gift card I have and $50 in rewards. I also get free 2-day shipping on any and every purchase. Combined with the $185 I'm getting from selling my Apple Watch, I'll have a straight discount off either of the phones of $285, bringing the costs that I have to pay out of pocket down to about $217 (after taxes) and $556 (after taxes) for the Pixel 3a XL and the non-XL Pixel 3, respectively.
 

drinkingtea

macrumors 6502
Jan 31, 2016
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667
Besides the notch, what else do you dislike about the XS Max?

I know you didn’t ask about the 3 XL, but I only lasted a week with it before returning it; the problems I encountered with the phone seem to exist with the non-XL version as well from what I’ve read. I found the software to be subpar in comparison to my iPhone 8 Plus/iOS and I absolutely hated the navigation. I wouldn’t get certain notifications from apps like Twitter. I’d get them on my iPhone (I still had my 8 with me just in case), but not all of them on the Pixel. I also wouldn’t get email notifications immediately in comparison to my iPhone, which was shocking. Sometimes I would have to wait twenty minutes before I’d get the email notification on my Pixel. I heard this was because the battery saver option was enabled, but the issues persisted despite disabling that option. I couldn’t listen to Spotify and have Google Maps running at the same time because the phone’s RAM management was/is that bad. I was really, really glad to go back to my iPhone 8 Plus.

I’m not sure if they’ve fixed these issues with the 3a, but I’d be cautious and do some research first before purchasing the phone.

Have you looked into the OnePlus 7 Pro or thought about waiting for the Pixel 4?
 

Dj64Mk7

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2013
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Besides the notch, what else do you dislike about the XS Max?
...
Have you looked into the OnePlus 7 Pro or thought about waiting for the Pixel 4?
Funny that you had all those issues, because I had none of those with my Pixel 2 XL. Instead, I'm having various levels of issue with iCloud, which has me wanting to switch back to Google services. And, obviously, the best way to use Google services is with an Android phone. And of course the best Android phones are Pixels. At least in my case because I demand the best camera and monthly security updates.

EDIT: That only responded to the body of your message.

I don't want to wait for Pixel 4 because I want a phone within the next month, and I don't like the reverse-chin design of the Pixel 4.
 

drinkingtea

macrumors 6502
Jan 31, 2016
335
667
Funny that you had all those issues, because I had none of those with my Pixel 2 XL. Instead, I'm having various levels of issue with iCloud, which has me wanting to switch back to Google services. And, obviously, the best way to use Google services is with an Android phone. And of course the best Android phones are Pixels. At least in my case because I demand the best camera and monthly security updates.

EDIT: That only responded to the body of your message.

I don't want to wait for Pixel 4 because I want a phone within the next month, and I don't like the reverse-chin design of the Pixel 4.
Hmm. Maybe with the delayed/missing notification issue I was having, it would only be noticeable next to an iPhone? I’d wake up in the morning with 15 Twitter notifications on my iPhone and iPad and only about 6 on the Pixel. But I had the same issue when I had a Galaxy S8, so I think it’s more of an Android problem than anything else.

I’m sure someone will be able to help you out on this issue more than me!
 

bodonnell202

macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2016
1,319
1,356
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I also have a Pixel 3a and honestly I quite like it. The 670 appears to be a non-issue as everything still feels pretty snappy. I think performance wise it’s fairly close to the 835, except for the GPU, so as long as your use case doesn’t involve playing graphics intensive games the slower doc seems more than adequate.
 

Dj64Mk7

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2013
1,161
322
I also have a Pixel 3a and honestly I quite like it. The 670 appears to be a non-issue as everything still feels pretty snappy. I think performance wise it’s fairly close to the 835, except for the GPU, so as long as your use case doesn’t involve playing graphics intensive games the slower doc seems more than adequate.
What case are you using on yours? Are you using any case, or is the polycarbonate durable enough that you just use a screen protector?
 

mjschabow

macrumors 68030
Dec 25, 2013
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Gotta be brutally honest. You’ll be back on iPhone if your make the switch. Use me as exhibition A. Save the trouble and stay put. The notch really isn’t a big deal.
 

michael9891

macrumors 68000
Sep 26, 2016
1,575
1,565
England
Try a 3a XL and if you don't like it, return it. Going by how much you info you want and going back and forth, you need to try it for yourself. Nothing we say will stop you wondering about what you should or shouldn't have done.

By the way, I'm on a 3a XL and had an XS Max for 6 months. I prefer the Pixel and the price difference between them is literally absurd.
 

ivanwi11iams

macrumors 68000
Nov 30, 2014
1,707
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Somewhere on Earth
You sound like me, always changing devices.
I got to the stage that I simply have two devices. Currently and iPhone XS Max and a Note 9.

I change depending on my mood. With that, I have stopped using iMessage and FaceTime. This makes switching on the fly, easy.

PS: I might have to download and use WhatsApp, to make messaging internationally easier. But. Honestly, how secure is bloody WhatsApp...?

I digress...
 

Tig Bitties

macrumors 68040
Sep 6, 2012
3,378
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I have the Pixel 3 XL, and my wife has the 2 XL, we both love our phones, and wouldn't downgrade to an iOS device, no way.

But the new Pixel 3a phones, I've read nothing but glowing reviews, and that the camera hardware or something is even better on the 3a's than the higher priced 3's. And the battery life is also better on the 3a's due to the 670 being very efficient.

I would absolutely recommend a Pixel 3a XL over an iPhone anytime they feel an operate so out of date, like from decade ago. I just don't see a use for an iPhone, what actual benefit would I get out of an iOS device? I use Windows 10 computers at work. A Surface Pro for tablet. And at home custom built gaming PC's.

I suppose if I had a Mac and iPad, I would have a different opinion. But I don't so I just prefer a Pixel or OnePlus phone.
 
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AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
10,785
7,391
Austin, TX
Gotta be brutally honest. You’ll be back on iPhone if your make the switch. Use me as exhibition A. Save the trouble and stay put. The notch really isn’t a big deal.
Yeah, Google has to get it together before I switch again.

I won't settle for OEMs messing up Android and Google just hasn't gotten the hardware right yet. Although, the 3a would be enticing if that were what I wanted.
 

Jason2000

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2019
34
45
Planet Earth
You sound bored with technology at the moment. I go through the same thing from time to time. I have also done what you have done and it gets expensive. I would hang onto my Apple gear because you sound like an Apple fan that sometimes thinks the grass may be greener on the other side and I get that.

I have purchased the Pixel 3 3 times now and have returned it 3 times. I get all excited about using it and then after a week I miss my Apple stuff. I miss apps like iMessage and even Find My Friends. Apple Watch is far and away better than anything Wear has to offer and then there is the awesome iPad Pro. These devices work together like nothing else. You do not realize how well until you try it with Android. I also realize that the Pixel doesn't really do anything my iPhone can't for me (YMMV). Obviously some people like to tinker but I need something reliable and that was not the Pixel 3. Forget BT. All 3 of the Pixels I had experienced issues staying connected to lots of different BT devices. It was horrible. I had other issues too that may or may not have been fixed with updates. The camera on the Pixel rocks but it really isn't that much better than the XS devices and I am sure Apple is going to be stepping it up big time with the iPhone 11.

Just wanted to share my experience. I am sure I will try a Pixel 4 but I will in no way be selling any Apple gear because I know after years of wasting time I will end up back with Apple.
 
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