Now Pixel 3a Has a Reliability Issue of Its Own

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 16 Comments

Google’s Pixel handsets have been dogged by reliability issues since the line’s inception. But there were hopes that the Pixel 3a would be different.

Maybe not.

According to multiple reports—I first learned about this from Android Police—owners of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are reporting that the devices randomly shut down and then require a hard reset before they will come back to life. The good news? After this reset, everything seems to work normally, and no data is lost. Of course, it will just happen again, randomly.

Naturally, enthusiasts are testing various theories to see if they can figure out what’s triggering the problem and circumvent it. But some obvious choices—a specific third-party app, for example—have not panned out.

Having finished my Google Pixel 3 XL review, I just switched to the Pixel 3a XL so I can review that next. And, so far at least, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive: Aside from some acceptable compromises, the 3a XL seems like an excellent smartphone, and a great value, and it even solves some of the issues I had with its more expensive sibling, including phone static and call quality.

But I’m no stranger to Pixel issues and will, of course, be on the lookout for this. Fingers crossed.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Now Pixel 3a Has a Reliability Issue of Its Own”

  1. yoshi

    I picked mine up over the weekend and so far it's been great. Hopefully that continues.

  2. nbates66

    I wish I could say I was surprised... what is it about the Pixel phones that makes this part difficult?

    • solomonrex

      In reply to nbates66:
      The Pixel team relies a lot on HTC/HTC's splinter cell google group. It makes Google's sale of the competent, superior Moto team extra baffling - they never had these issues before. Also, the Team Formerly Known As Nokia was available, and Google didn't do that either.

      Quite possibly Google is riddled with sleeper agents of various competitors, because their Android moves make no sense, and seem to only benefit Apple and China. Then again, Quallcomm shares a lot of blame.

  3. dontbe evil

    what a surprise /s

  4. jimchamplin

    Why don’t they just quit?

    Either they’re incompetent, or they’re being punked by the ODMs. You know the ones who previously had a good relationship with Google because of the Nexus program?


    • jgraebner

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I'm not really that convinced that the Pixel phones have had more reliability issues than other brands. If you scour online discussions, you can find plenty of reports of people having troubles with every brand of phone. There's a lot of complexity involved with these devices, which means that there are a lot of places that problems can creep in. I'm not necessarily excusing the problems that have crept up, but I hardly see it as a unique to Google issue.

      Let's not forget that Apple has had a couple high profile issues in recent years (particularly antenna and battery issues) and Samsung had to pull a major model of phone from the market because it had a tendency to literally explode...

      • per

        In reply to jgraebner:

        There may be some tendency to over-report Pixel problems on this site :) Though, after having all of Paul's problems with the Pixel 2XL, I might do the same.

  5. Stooks

    Android = Samsung IHMO. The S10E is the phone I would use if I was going Android.

  6. Joe B.

    I went to Best Buy a couple of days ago to exchange my 3a because of a green-tinted screen at full brightness. Turns out that the store I went back to was out of stock, and so was every other location in the area. So I just returned it for a refund.

    Makes me wonder if I dodged a bullet...

  7. Lauren Glenn

    This is why everyone should let the pawns go first. Magneto was right in XMen 3.

  8. nobody9

    No such issues with our two 3a's so far. Had em almost a week now.

  9. Jaxidian

    I think this was a bug in AOSP with the March update, which the Pixel 3a is still running. Essential fixed similar issues with their May release, listed as "Stability fix to improve shutdown responsiveness". I've seen this happen on both my P3XL and a PH-1. A friend of mine, who I sold another PH-1 to, ran into this and thought it was potentially a borked phone. Fortunately, he asked me about it the same day Essentially released the May update and he hasn't seen it since.

    So I think the *real* problem here is the fact that the Pixel 3a is still on March firmware and hasn't been updated yet. The May update seemed to clear it up for my P3XL as well. My wife has only seen it once on her Pixel 2.

  10. bill_russell

    every phone seems to have reports of a handful of issues right after release but typically they quiet down. The previous pixels though seemed to continue to suffer from issues (I heard) but I have a pixel 1 and have had no issues FWIW. I may get one of the 3a's next year after the test of time. Then again, not sure. Sounds like the pixel 1 will get Q.

  11. jberls

    Google doesn't just have a reliability problem with phones. Sorry, Paul, but Google Fi sucks. I "tried" to have my mobile number ported to Fi two weeks ago for my Pixel 3. T-Mobile released the number and Fi promptly lost it. They've been dancing me around ever since, and today they managed to disconnect the initial number that was assigned to me as well. So now I cannot receive texts or calls to either number. And all they do is give me the "we've escalated your case to a higher tier" run around. The amount of inconvenience and aggravation this has caused me is unlike anything I've experienced with any carrier in more than 25 years of using cell phones. Google doesn't know the first thing about customer service.

  12. kjb434

    Can someone just make a good Android handset with pure Android and no crapware?

    The closest I found is Razr's two phones. The Razr 2 looks good especially when the price drops 50% in the future.

    I love my LG, but not be able to have a clean Android experience where I add the launcher I want is difficult to find.

    • wocowboy

      In reply to kjb434:

      Launchers, nor any 3rd-party software you put on your phone that modifies the device beyond that "pure Android" are no less subject to malware, adware, or spyware than any other 3rd-party software. So if you really want that pure Android experience you will only use what came with the device and nothing else. Mess with the millions of settings all you want, just don't modify the pure Google experience, which includes the included default launcher. 3rd party software is "at your own risk", lots of software on the Google Play Store contains hidden adware and spyware that can affect your user experience even if you delete the offending app because deleting it might not remove the adware it placed deep within the system. I am speaking from experience here, I once had to erase/restore my OnePlus 5 because an app had installed adware that popped up ads all over the place, but when I figured out why it was happening, the problem did not go away with uninstalling the app, I had to completely reset the device.