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Google Pixel 3a Reportedly Being Throttled By Digital Wellbeing

Google might have a big problem with its Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, and it extends to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, too.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

According to a Reddit thread, new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL owners are experiencing major performance problems that are causing their smartphones to slow down. Those folks have tried several tactics to address the problem, but ultimately found that disabling the Digital Wellbeing app on their caused significant improvements to the functionality.

Google released its Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL at its Google I/O conference last week. The handsets are designed for the midrange smartphone market and come with a $399 starting price. Most importantly, they offer a solid slate of features for the price, including compelling designs and a camera that compares nicely to high-end alternatives. The smartphones have generally received strong reviews.

Digital Wellbeing debuted in Android Pie last year to give you more insight into how you're using your smartphone. Similar to Apple's Screen Time, the app runs in the background and collects usage data. It then tells you all about your smartphone usage and gives you controls to improve your productivity.

MORE: Google Pixel 3a Review: The Phone You Want for $400

It's unclear why the Digital Wellbeing app might be causing problems in the Pixel 3a lineup. The app is running fine in other Android installations and users haven't complained about it elsewhere. It's possible, therefore, that the finding is circumstantial and could be caused by something else. Google hasn't said publicly whether the Pixel 3a troubles are due to Digital Wellbeing or something else.

It's also worth noting that it's impossible to say for sure how widespread the problem is. There are several commenters on the Reddit thread who are complaining about the slowdowns, but they only represent a small portion of the user base. It's unclear whether a larger number of people is experiencing the problem.

But given how important the Pixel 3a lineup is to Google's future, look for much more on this one before it's resolved.

If you're looking to turn off Digital Wellbeing to improve your performance, simply go to your device's Settings and search "Usage Access." Choose Digital Wellbeing and toggle the option that says "Permit Usage Access" to off.

  • nobody9
    dreisinger said:
    The software is supposed to help you reduce your screen time. Instead, it's annoying Pixel 3a owners.

    Google Pixel 3a Reportedly Being Throttled By Digital Wellbeing : Read more

    This observation about Digital Wellbeing applies to nearly every Android phones over time, even my Pixel 3. To make matters worse, it's not even intelligent enough to realize that I'm at a late evening concert or event, and thus don't want Digital Wellbeing silencing my driving directions (i.e. late at night, when it's more critical than in the daytime to get verbal driving directions).

    It ideally ought to have an easier way to disable DW when you occasionally don't want it.
    Reply
  • JordanCS13
    What a terrible article, with massive leaps in logic from the original reports. The original report on Reddit was from a Pixel 3 owner, not a 3a owner, who said he noticed a performance improvement when disabling Digital Wellbeing. Other users noticed improvements as well when disabling.

    Then you turn it around to say "Pixel 3a is being throttled" which implies both malicious intent by Google and the isolation of a specific model (which in turn implies that Google might be trying to nerf the new model). All of these are false. Want to write an article about how Digital Well Being has a performance penalty, then do so, but write about it that way.

    And I have seen no such outcry among 3a owners that digital well being is destroying performance on their phones, like the article insinuates. It's terrible journalism made for sensationalist clicks.
    Reply
  • nobody9
    JordanCS13 said:
    What a terrible article, with massive leaps in logic from the original reports. The original report on Reddit was from a Pixel 3 owner, not a 3a owner, who said he noticed a performance improvement when disabling Digital Wellbeing. Other users noticed improvements as well when disabling.

    Then you turn it around to say "Pixel 3a is being throttled" which implies both malicious intent by Google a...

    I agree that the title and article do unfortunately imply malicious intent. However, I can confirm that Digital Wellbeing degrades the performance of thee different handsets in our household (not just a Pixel 3, or Pixel 3a). Digital Wellbeing needs more work, specifically in regards to making it less taxing on our phones, and in regards to allowing it to be suspended for events like when you are getting driving directions from Google Maps.
    Reply
  • JordanCS13
    Edit: bizarrely, the comment I was replying to seems to be gone...was along the lines of "Yes, it's sensationalist, but there are issues with DWB." Response below is still valid:
    Yeah, I'm not denying that Digital Well Being may have a problem in slowing device performance, but that's how the article should be written. This is painting it as either a problem with the new devices, or potentially as Google trying to slow down the phones on purpose (using the word 'throttling' implies intent).

    Also, starting the article with "Google might have a big problem with its new Pixel 3a and 3a XL" is just sensationalist garbage. Especially when the 'big problem' can be easily remedied by disabling usage access on DWB.

    The article should be "Google's Digital Well Being may be hurting performance on Pixel devices."
    Reply
  • danwat1234
    I agree the word 'Throttling' shouldn't be in the article or title. Throttling implies the phone's SOC is being downclocked or not able to up-clock due to this software. Like battery saver mode. Unless it really is doing this but that wouldn't be confirmed anyway.
    Reply
  • RccC
    I totally agree with the critisims of the wording in this article.
    I love my Pixel 3 and think it is very fast.
    I did not even know about this software, and have not used it directly. But I thank you for showing me how to turn it off!
    Looking at it, I do not see how this app was supposed to help me. Off it is.
    Reply
  • Mullaly236
    Some Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a owners who have complained of slowdowns on their smartphones are reportedly seeing significant improvements after they deactivate Google’s Digital Wellbeing feature clean master antivirus.
    Reply