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Thread: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

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    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Looks like the battery is slowly on the wane in my Pixel 3a, factory reset isn't making it responsive like it used too. I could probably get going for another year with it if needed, and my interest in having the latest and greatest has long since faded away. I'll looking for a phone with the following qualities:

    Compact design (ideally 70-71mm wide, max)
    High quality camera for stills and video
    Snappy UI performance
    Reasonable OS and security upgrades likely for 2 years minimum
    Sub £400 price tag, ideally sub £300

    I've used the Pixel phones for a good few years now, but the Pixel 6 is just bigger than is acceptable to me, therefore I'm considering other options:

    Pixel 4 / Pixel 5 / iPhone 12 Mini/ Samsung S20 FE

    Is there anyhting I could be considering. Happy to for go the OS updates if the price tag is low enough, but the other elements are non-negociable. The camera especially needs to at least match the abilities of the Pixel 3a I currently have, otherwise I'm going to view this as a downgrade.
    Last edited by cptwhite_uk; 07-02-2022 at 12:08 PM.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    The iPhone SE is in your budget and probably has longer OS support than the rest of your options. I'm no Apple fan but you can't beat them on that score.

    Failing that the Business Editions of varying Samsung get an extra years updates I think.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    How about getting a new battery fitted by a Google authorized repair centre?

    https://www.ismash.com/collections/g...xel-3a-repairs

    Will cost £60 apparently...quite a bit less than a new phone

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    I have considered a new battery, but the phone will probably need replacing anyway, as OS updates are only guaranteed until May this year...so it's coming to the end of it's supported life cycle. Also, there's no guarantee the slow down is because of the battery, and not because it's just older hardware running a newer version of the OS.

    I'm not someone who needs the latest and greatest, but it is certainly starting to chugg just doing basic stuff, so I'm reluctant to spend £60 on something which is probably only worth about £80-£100 on the used market.

    The phone has served me well, but having owned it for 2 years now, and it was a budget option when purchased, I'm comfortable spending on a new device.

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    Editable... jimbouk's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Would probably stick with a Pixel, even a refurb might be a good option to save a bit? Deals do come up. Motorola used to be my go to at the budget end but they've just gone silly large with not great res screens. Now on Samsung A41 and wished I hadn't, oled screen but laggy camera and keeps trying to get me to use another app store for basic functionality. Very jealous of my wife's Pixel (4a I think).

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Yeah I tried a Samsung S10, but the software experience and camera were sub-par and went back to a Pixel. I'm mulling over an iPhone for the first time, maybe a 12 mini if the price is right. Pixel 5 might also be an option.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    The S20FE 5G has been on offer a few times under £400 in the last week or so(check HUKD). I got one last year,and the triple cameras(especially the 76mm equivalent one) have been really solid and the setup is very flexible for a phone IMHO. Updates should be around for a few years too.

    Another cheaper alternative would be the Samsung A52S 5G which can be had for under £300,and should have an extra year of software updates. There is also an A53 launching in March.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Yeah I tried a Samsung S10, but the software experience and camera were sub-par and went back to a Pixel. I'm mulling over an iPhone for the first time, maybe a 12 mini if the price is right. Pixel 5 might also be an option.

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    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    There's a Pixel 5 128Gb going local for £250, looks to be in excellent condition, considering going for that.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    The way you are finding it slowing down seems odd. For me that's usually lack of RAM. My 2GB Nvidia tablet went unusable ages ago, a couple of years perhaps? My 3GB Moto G5 was creaking heavily when I replaced it with a cheap Moto G30 (too big for your requirements but otherwise good value) which with 6GB of ram is nice and responsive and I'm hoping will last me a while.

    Looking up the specs, your Pixel 3a has 4GB which I thought you should still get away with for now. Perhaps Google have gone further down the slippery slope of ram consumption, or you have an app that is resource hungry.

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    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Issue seems to persist even after a factory reset. That used to give it that "new phone" responsiveness, but the last time I did it, it felt sluggish almost immediately. I might give it one more go, just to see if it improves things. £250 for a Pixel 5 seems like a good option through, might even be able to barter it a little lower.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Quote Originally Posted by cptwhite_uk View Post
    Yeah I tried a Samsung S10, but the software experience and camera were sub-par and went back to a Pixel. I'm mulling over an iPhone for the first time, maybe a 12 mini if the price is right. Pixel 5 might also be an option.
    Samsung are offering 4 years of software updates from launch:
    https://www.sammyfans.com/2022/02/05...y-device-list/

    So that should be the end of 2024 for my phone. A52S 5G is probably sometime in 2025! The A52S 5G can be had for under £300 brand new if you shop around. It has a faster SOC than even a Pixel 5.

    Pixel 5 support is ending in October 2023:
    https://support.google.com/nexus/ans...-a-a-g-and-a-g

    Pixel 5a 5G support is ending in August 2024.

    Comparison of the S20FE and Pixel 5:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyVtm9I-odQ

    The reviewer himself said many times he preferred the Samsung over the Pixel. It's no wonder when the S20FE sometimes can better the more expensive S20. Even a mate who has a Pixel 5 said the Samsung produced some really nice pictures.

    When I was looking for a new phone I had narrowed it down to a Pixel 4A 5G,Pixel 5 and S20FE due to wanting a decent length of software updates.

    But when I looked at buying a new phone last summer the Samsung was the winner(for me at least) over the Pixel 4 5G(and in many ways a Pixel 5) at the time:
    1.)Faster SOC(865 5G)
    2.)MicroSD card slot
    3.)Triple camera system

    Considering how much I invest in photographic gear,I really wanted at least an 70MM~80MM equivalent telephoto lens which the Samsung has.

    4.)Accurate dual band GPS(need it when going for walks in the countryside)
    5.)Decent battery life(because of no4),and the Pixels had worse battery life according to GSMArena because the batteries are smaller

    It was also cheaper than both at just over £300(damaged box one from a retailer).
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 07-02-2022 at 04:34 PM.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    S20 FE is 74.5mm wide, which is a deal breaker for me. I have smaller hands and I just find heavier / wider phones a real deal breaker. Appreciate all the positives you've mentioned in favour of the S20 FE, but the benefits of smaller / lighter weiggt, more natural looking photography, and the cleaner UI experience I'll get on the Pixel 5 are much more in line with what I'm looking for. After weighing up the pros and cons I think the Pixel 5 will be the right option for me.

    I'm really intrigued by the iPhone 12 mini, love the design, weight and size....but I prefer my google phones to be honest, warts and all, that and other minor niggles like have to replace all my USB-C chargers (office, home, car), having to re-stock all my used apps and signup to an Apple account which I wouldn't use anywhere else, use apps which aren't my preferred options (for sms etc), and the potentially too small screen size, along with only 64Gb models in my budget and, yeah, the minor negatives are adding up.
    Last edited by cptwhite_uk; 07-02-2022 at 05:39 PM.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    I don't have big hands either,and have a reinforced case on mine - I have been able to use it fine one hand because I use it as a navigation device when going for walks,as the aspect ratio of the phone makes it taller. It's quite narrow.

    The limitations in storage and especially battery life were a concern for me with the Pixel phones,especially when running GPS apps.

    The camera system is inferior many aspects,and I really like the extra control(like a compact camera) you have once you get into pro mode. Plus there are so many additional camera apps on top of the stock ones,and people have put GCam onto it if you really like the Google app:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/GalaxyS20FE...snapdragon_4g/

    Once they got rid of the Exynos version and moved it to exclusively the SD865,it pretty much undermined most of the current Samsung range. It's why the S21FE seems to be basically the same phone,with a newer SOC and a big price bump.


    The UW is actually less wider on the Pixel 5,and the flexibility of the 3X tele lens is really something you notice,as it gives you much more creative control. Digital zoom is really not great,and I hate it with a passion. Then the fact you are getting a budget phone SOC in a flagship grade device. The 765G was not great at that original RRP as the Pixel 5 seems to clock the SOC lower than average:
    https://www.gsmarena.com/google_pixe...iew-2185p4.php

    Update Oct 31, 2020: Testing the first Pixel 5 unit, which we received, turned in lower benchmark scores than expected from the Snapdragon 765G. We decided that our particular device was to blame, so we requested a second review device to compare. However, the second unit scored just as low, so we now feel confident publishing our Pixel 5 performance charts.
    Then the fact you are getting updates for longer too with the Samsung(apparently),and a new A52S 5G(with a fresh battery compared to a used phone)would get updates until 2025! Each to their own but I honestly think Google just got greedier and greedier with their pricing.

    The reality is the Pixel phones when they were quite cheap were fine,but the price for what you were getting isn't really decent anymore. The Pixel 6 at least improves in this regard,but I feel Google were pushed into this IMHO.

    It's even worse when the Chinese phones make both of them look overpriced,but they dithered on how much support they were offering. So I do think I paid a bit more than I wanted for this damaged box S20FE,but my last phone started freezing so I had to make a decision quick!

    It's a shame Huawei went south,because their phones were so well engineered! The P9 I had wouldn't overheat even when using GPS based apps in 30C tropical climates!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 07-02-2022 at 06:25 PM.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    I went from a pixel 3a to a samsung S21 basic. I'm pretty happy with the swap.

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    Re: Upgrading from the Pixel 3a - recommendations needed

    Considering your requirements I think the only choice is a Pixel 5, cheaper Chinese android phones from Xiaomi, Redmi, Realme etc just dont have the camera chops, plus most are not compact. Motorola again cameras do not compare vs the Pixel and there's little software support. So if you can find a cheap Pixel 5 you wont be disappointed but be aware the main camera is the same as in the Pixel 3 XL so dont be expecting any improvement just the same high quality.

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