1. hybrisate's Avatar
    Yesterday I went to T-Mobile and took advantage of their $400 trade-in offer (hate the whole bill credits thing, but that's another story. It is still a good deal!) I traded in my beloved Pixel 2 for the 3a, despite some saying it is a "downgrade." I have a few reasons for doing so. The Pixel 2 average value is a bit below $300 according to Swappa. My original Pixel 2 as well as three warranty replacements all suffered from warping even though I was very careful with it (see my post about that issue here.) I also wanted to have a more future-proof phone as far as updates and security. And lastly, my new employer will pay for a new phone soon, so I will probably get a more "flagship" level device to use primarily. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

    Form Factor & Build Quality: I love that the screen is over half an inch larger, but the overall size is only a bit taller. It is obviously plastic and does not feel as nice as the Pixel 2, but the original price is quite lower, too. I do like the fact that it is plastic for durability and am hoping I won't run into the warping I mentioned above, although that is probably not an issue for the vast majority of Pixel 2 owners who have no warping problems. The smaller bezels have led to some accidental screen touches, but suspect that won't be as big an issue once I get a case on my 3a.

    Battery Life: My battery was never great any of four the Pixel 2 devices I went through. It always seemed good out of the gate, but never stayed that way. I am definitely a power user and leave bluetooth, full location, location scanning, etc, on at all times, but try to keep my brightness low. I also use always on display. That being said, in the battery threads I saw people getting 4, 5 hours of screen on time and I imagine some of them had similar settings on. I rarely got more than 3 hours SOT. I was hoping and assuming the Pixel 3a would be better. Initial impressions are very similar to the Pixel 2, although I haven't even had it for 24 hours yet so I would like to get at least a few days worth of data before stressing on it. I will report back on this.

    Performance: My Pixel 2 was a performance champ. After setting up my mom's new Galaxy S9 (I spent several hours with it, and noticed considerable delays compared to my P2. Maybe that's normal for a Samsung but I was expecting virtually no lag on a flagship.) I appreciated my Pixel 2 so much more after playing with the S9. Never lagged, smooth as butter, only an occasional hiccup even when running lots of apps. Camera processing wasn't the fastest on portrait shots, but I feel like that is normal and will expand on that below.

    As for the 3a - I can't say it is as great performance wise, but it is definitely better than the S9. Overall, it is is solid and I am happy with it especially considering the phone is only $399. It's snappy on the home screen, app drawer, launcher, etc. Switching apps, and app performance is where I notice it the most. It's not SLOW by any means, but it just doesn't seem as fluid as the P2. I've read other reviews that say they don't run into performance issues, and if I was coming from a budget device, the 3a would feel amazing. But coming from a Pixel 2, I notice the slight downgrade. Not thrilled about it, but far from being a deal breaker for me.

    Camera: I have not used the camera a ton yet, but it does seem to take slightly longer for processing on portrait shots. I will put it through some paces while out and about, but overall quality seems just as good as my Pixel 2 camera. I would say that the portrait mode allowed for even better blurring of the background on the 3a - I take a lot of portrait pictures (mainly of beers for my Instagram, haha) and initial portrait shots seemed better than my P2 as far as the blurring of the background. That being said, it could be the lighting conditions but I am very happy to report photo quality is just as good for me. I did not expect otherwise but thought I would mention it.

    Due to the performance mentioned above, I would not be shocked if I ran into some slowness while using the camera heavily. But for me, that's a none issue. I usually take my time to get that perfect photo lined up, but I know people with kids tend to mention this type of thing.

    That's all I have for now, but plan to use it like usual over the next few days so I can see if things change or have anything substantial to add. If you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them. If you are not planning to rock your Pixel 2 for another year or two, and want to save some money, I think the 3a is a worthy upgrade. If you have to have the fastest performance possible, maybe hold out for the Pixel 4 or grab a P3 on one of the deals that inevitably come around. Or just hang on to your Pixel 2 if it's alive and well. Thanks for reading!
    05-12-2019 12:19 PM
  2. mustang7757's Avatar
    Yesterday I went to T-Mobile and took advantage of their $400 trade-in offer (hate the whole bill credits thing, but that's another story. It is still a good deal!) I traded in my beloved Pixel 2 for the 3a, despite some saying it is a "downgrade." I have a few reasons for doing so. The Pixel 2 average value is a bit below $300 according to Swappa. My original Pixel 2 as well as three warranty replacements all suffered from warping even though I was very careful with it (see my post about that issue here.) I also wanted to have a more future-proof phone as far as updates and security. And lastly, my new employer will pay for a new phone soon, so I will probably get a more "flagship" level device to use primarily. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

    Form Factor & Build Quality: I love that the screen is over half an inch larger, but the overall size is only a bit taller. It is obviously plastic and does not feel as nice as the Pixel 2, but the original price is quite lower, too. I do like the fact that it is plastic for durability and am hoping I won't run into the warping I mentioned above, although that is probably not an issue for the vast majority of Pixel 2 owners who have no warping problems. The smaller bezels have led to some accidental screen touches, but suspect that won't be as big an issue once I get a case on my 3a.

    Battery Life: My battery was never great any of four the Pixel 2 devices I went through. It always seemed good out of the gate, but never stayed that way. I am definitely a power user and leave bluetooth, full location, location scanning, etc, on at all times, but try to keep my brightness low. I also use always on display. That being said, in the battery threads I saw people getting 4, 5 hours of screen on time and I imagine some of them had similar settings on. I rarely got more than 3 hours SOT. I was hoping and assuming the Pixel 3a would be better. Initial impressions are very similar to the Pixel 2, although I haven't even had it for 24 hours yet so I would like to get at least a few days worth of data before stressing on it. I will report back on this.

    Performance: My Pixel 2 was a performance champ. After setting up my mom's new Galaxy S9 (I spent several hours with it, and noticed considerable delays compared to my P2. Maybe that's normal for a Samsung but I was expecting virtually no lag on a flagship.) I appreciated my Pixel 2 so much more after playing with the S9. Never lagged, smooth as butter, only an occasional hiccup even when running lots of apps. Camera processing wasn't the fastest on portrait shots, but I feel like that is normal and will expand on that below.

    As for the 3a - I can't say it is as great performance wise, but it is definitely better than the S9. Overall, it is is solid and I am happy with it especially considering the phone is only $399. It's snappy on the home screen, app drawer, launcher, etc. Switching apps, and app performance is where I notice it the most. It's not SLOW by any means, but it just doesn't seem as fluid as the P2. I've read other reviews that say they don't run into performance issues, and if I was coming from a budget device, the 3a would feel amazing. But coming from a Pixel 2, I notice the slight downgrade. Not thrilled about it, but far from being a deal breaker for me.

    Camera: I have not used the camera a ton yet, but it does seem to take slightly longer for processing on portrait shots. I will put it through some paces while out and about, but overall quality seems just as good as my Pixel 2 camera. I would say that the portrait mode allowed for even better blurring of the background on the 3a - I take a lot of portrait pictures (mainly of beers for my Instagram, haha) and initial portrait shots seemed better than my P2 as far as the blurring of the background. That being said, it could be the lighting conditions but I am very happy to report photo quality is just as good for me. I did not expect otherwise but thought I would mention it.

    Due to the performance mentioned above, I would not be shocked if I ran into some slowness while using the camera heavily. But for me, that's a none issue. I usually take my time to get that perfect photo lined up, but I know people with kids tend to mention this type of thing.

    That's all I have for now, but plan to use it like usual over the next few days so I can see if things change or have anything substantial to add. If you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them. If you are not planning to rock your Pixel 2 for another year or two, and want to save some money, I think the 3a is a worthy upgrade. If you have to have the fastest performance possible, maybe hold out for the Pixel 4 or grab a P3 on one of the deals that inevitably come around. Or just hang on to your Pixel 2 if it's alive and well. Thanks for reading!
    Great feedback, hopefully helps people on the fence about it .
    hybrisate likes this.
    05-12-2019 12:32 PM
  3. laestrella's Avatar
    Thanks for sharing. I did the same trade in as you but went from 2 XL to a 3a XL. I do feel like I should have gotten the smaller size though. I miss one-handed use.

    I too was wondering whether this would be a downgrade but I'm happy with my decision. My 2 XL had some micro scratches on the screen and some normal wear and tear so it's nice to have a fresh device. Plus the TMobile deal was just great.

    Like you, I noticed that the phone is not as fast when the processing photos but I think having a more future proof phone as you mentioned is really appealing.
    05-12-2019 03:44 PM
  4. B. Diddy's Avatar
    Nice post @hybrisate, thanks for the information!
    05-12-2019 07:02 PM
  5. slwatts's Avatar
    Thank you. Great post, as I was weighing a Pixel 2 vs 3A.
    05-12-2019 07:10 PM
  6. Itsa_Me_Mario's Avatar
    Congrats on your new device
    05-14-2019 10:54 AM
  7. Golurk's Avatar
    Cool initial thoughts!
    05-16-2019 12:56 PM
  8. Rukbat's Avatar
    The reason for the slower camera is that the A line (3A and 3A XL) don't have the Visual Core chip, so all that processing is done in software. The VC chip is one of the best points of the Pixels if you take pictures. (Not only for speed - Night Site is probably going to take forever on a dark scene.)
    05-17-2019 02:43 PM
  9. B. Diddy's Avatar
    The argument there is that the 670 includes the Spectra ISP, which is supposed to be a decent substitute. But it will still mean a noticeable increase in time taken to process a photo. I still suspect it will also mean a noticeable increase in battery use when taking a lot of photos, but that will require a head-to-head comparison.
    05-17-2019 03:01 PM
  10. Golurk's Avatar
    Night Sight is certainly going to be slower without PVC, but having Spectra ISP is better than nothing. Sure, it’ll be a couple of seconds slower but it won’t take forever.
    B. Diddy likes this.
    05-18-2019 05:45 AM
  11. B. Diddy's Avatar
    Oh, I agree -- for most use cases, it'll be totally fine. The main situation where I imagined it would be more noticeable would be if you were on vacation and snapping a lot of pictures in a row, which might cause somewhat noticeable slowdown. But it wouldn't be a dealbreaker.
    Golurk likes this.
    05-18-2019 02:58 PM

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