Pixel 4a: Is This The Budget Phone for You?

Pixel 4a: Design


Despite an excellent camera and a handful of fancy features, the Pixel 4 series didn’t make an impact it was expected to. The reason lies in an average battery life which couldn’t compete with rivals. Furthermore, it had average storage options and with other phones owning great cameras and low-light capabilities (iPhone 11 series and Note 10 series).

So as we all know, Pixel 4 pretty much failed as a flagship device. But now, Google has launched their budget-friendly Pixel 4a. Google succeeded with their Pixel 3a series. Pixel 3a didn’t lack the remarkable features of Pixel devices like an excellent flagship camera, but ditched some luxury additions like IP rating, swaps glass back with plastic and removed wireless charging.

What’s in the box

  • 1m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0)
  • 18-watt USB-C Power Adaptor
  • Quick switch adaptor (USB-C to USB-A)
  • Sim Tool
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Quick Switch adaptor

Pixel 4a: Specs

Display5.81 inches OLED
2340 x 1080 pixels
19.5:9 Aspect ratio 
444 ppi Density
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 730G
GPUAdreno 618
Memory128 GB
RAM6 GB
CamerasRear:
12.2 MP, (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
LED flash, Auto-HDR, panorama
4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps; gyro-EIS

Front:
8 MP, 24mm (wide)
Auto-HDR
1080p@30fps
Headphone jackYes
Battery3,140 mAh
18-watt Fast charging
No wireless charging
IP ratingNo IP rating
Other featuresFingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, proximity, compass
Software versionAndroid 10
ColoursJust Black
SimSingle nano-sim
Dimensions5.7″ height x 2.7″ width x 0.3″ depth

Pixel 4a and Pixel 4: Some Notable Differences.

S.No.Pixel 4aPixel 4
Refresh Rate60 Hz90 Hz
ColoursJust BlackClearly White, Just Black, Oh So Orange
3.5mm Headphone jackYesNo
Battery Capacity3140 mAh2800 mAh
CamerasSingle Main cameraDual camera set-up: Main and Telephoto
Wireless Charging NoYes
Water-resistanceNoYes
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 730GQualcomm SM8150 Snapdragon 855 (7 nm)
RAM6 GB6 GB
Pixel Buds in the BoxNo Yes

Design

Pixel 4a: Dimensions
  • 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm
  • Plastic Built
  • Hole Punch Display
  • Plastic Body
  • Single Rear Camera
  • Back Imprint Fingerprint Sensor
  • 3.5 mm Headphone jack

Budget phones means cheaper building materials. So Google instead of going for a glass back, has settled for a plastic body. The Pixel 4a,made of a single piece of plastic with matt texture up top.

Pixel 4a: Side view

Pixel 4a is available in one colour: Just Black. The distinct appearance of the Pixel, maintained by providing a differently coloured power button, in this case, it is a shade of green.

Google has placed the Pixel 4a’s speaker on the bottom edge, just right of the USB-C port. The placement gives the phone a uniform look, as an identical cutout can be found on the left side of the port for a microphone.

Google continues to stack the power and volume buttons on the right side of the phone. The fingerprint sensor is nicely located in the top middle portion of the device’s rear panel, and the primary camera is kept in the top left corner of the handset.

Display

Pixel 4a: Display
  • 5.81 inches OLED
  • 16 M colours
  • 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • 19.5:9 Aspect ratio
  • Always-on display
  • 444 PPI

Pixel 4a comes with a 5.81 inches OLED display which is surprising for its price tag in 2020. The PPI is slightly increased since last budget pixel 3a, from 441 PPI to 444 PPI. Always-on display is also present as a perk of OLED display.

Pixel 4a’s display is too colour-accurate for a mid-range smartphone. Google has been leading the pack in chroma calibrations for a while now, and every Pixel phone so far has been very well-tuned for colour, even the dreaded Pixel 2 XL (which was plagued with other issues, but chroma calibration wasn’t one of them).

Performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
  • 2.2 GHz + 1.8 GHz, 64-bit Octa-Core
  • Adreno 618 GPU
  • 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage
  • No expandable memory

To bring the cost of Pixel 4a, Google has settled for a mid-tier processor: The Snapdragon 730G. Paired with Adreno 618, Pixel will handle most of the tasks thrown at it quite comfortably.

When compared with a flagship like Pixel 4 itself, you may notice some delay in performing some tasks. But when the other phone goes out of the equation, those slight delays will no longer be apparent. Having said that, Pixel 4a is still a very competent device for day-to-day usage.

Like Pixel 3a, we expect Pixel 4a to take its time when it comes to photo processing. No matter if we snapped a regular snap or a portrait, it took several seconds for Pixel 3a to process the image.

In 2020, Pixel 4a packs a 6 GB RAM which will be more than competent in multi-tasking for sure. It’s a disappointment that Google didn’t upgrade the RAM since last mid-tier Pixel. The big relief is Google upgraded the memory option to 128 GB which will save some users some money spent on cloud storage.

Battery

Pixel 4a: Battery
  • 3,140 mAh
  • 18 watt fast charging
  • No wireless charging

The Pixel 4a comes with 3,140 mAh battery which should get the work done for most people. Thankfully, the 18-watt fast charger that comes in the box can power-up the Pixel to 100% in an hour and a half.

Pixel 4a: Fast Charger

Owning 3,140 mAh battery and not so bright screen, Pixel 4a will last a full day if moderate tasks are thrown at it.

The disappointment is the lack of wireless charging. Not that all major players in the phone market has wireless charging with Qi standards, a lot of people have become accustomed to placing their phone on a wireless charging pad.

As the handset is made out of plastic, there should be nothing holding Google back from including wireless charging other than price.

Camera

Pixel 4a: Cameras

Rear Camera

  • 12.2 MP (wide) dual-pixel, 1.4 μm pixel width
  • ƒ/1.7 aperture
  • LED Flash, Auto-HDR, Panorama
  • 4K@30fps; 1080p@30/60/120fps; 720p@ 30/60/240fps
  • 77° field of view
  • Gyro; Optical + Electronic image stabilization

Selfie Camera

  • 8 MP;1.12 μm pixel size;ƒ/2.0 aperture
  • ƒ/2.0 aperture
  • Fixed focus
  • 84° field of view
  • 1080/720/480p@30fps;

If there is one reason that you should buy Pixel 4a over other mid-tier smartphones, then it must be the camera. Like all other Pixel devices, Pixel 4a also promises one of the best rear camera captures out there.

One papers Pixel 4a has a nearly identical main camera to Pixel 4. As a reason despite being a mid-tier smartphone Pixel 4a competes with some flagship devices when it comes to the camera.

The Pixel 4a includes various shooting modes found on its premium siblings. This includes Night Sight, Photobooth, slow motion, and the time-lapse mode.

The night sight works as effectively on Pixel 4a as it does on the premium sibling. Also, Google has a history of providing great AI-driven Portrait Bokeh effects. Additionally, if the bokeh look is too much for your taste, Google still allows you to dig into Photos and adjust the depth effect.

The front-facing camera is what we are sceptical about as the front-facing camera struggled on Pixel 3a.

Software

  • Android 10
  • 2 years of firm-ware updates
  • 3 years of security patches

There isn’t much to say about software on Pixel 4a. Google is serving up to its same great stock Android 10 experience that many view as the proper version of Android.

As with all of Google’s hardware, the company promises at least two years of firmware or major version updates and three years of security patches. This ensures that you will get support through the life of the device.

Audio

  • Headphone jack
  • Dual Stereo Speakers
  • Two microphones, noice separation

Google yet again, brings the headphone jack to its budget device. So this is good news for any audiophile looking at the Pixel 4a.

Pixel 4a has dual stereo speaker. It’s surprising to include the stereo speakers set-up on a mid-tier device but Google surprises us yet again.

Value For Money

When compared to similarly-priced flagship phones, Google’s Pixels have always lagged a little in the spec department. The company says the real value for customers is in the software department.

To save money, many OEMs drop certain features and slack on software updates. With the Pixel 4a, you not only get NFC for things like Google Pay, but you get a camera that outpaces most flagships and the security of monthly software updates.

Verdict

This is the phone that should work for everyone. The Google Pixel line has long been called one of the greatest Android experiences on the market. Now, the search giant has a phone series that is much more accessible for a larger portion of the market.

For $349, you get the best features from the Pixel 4: camera quality,consistent Android updates and stock android. No phone in the Pixel 4a’s class comes close to capturing as nice photos or promising years of updates. This low price makes it a no-brainer, particularly if you need a low-cost replacement.

There are some trade-offs, though, by going the budget-friendly route. You don’t get waterproofing, wireless charging, or premium glass, but you do still get a solid all-around package. As a bonus, it comes with a headphone jack.

In a nutshell, Google is ready again with a phone that includes almost every feature that makes the Pixel lineup so popular in a budget-conscious package.

Still confused? Check out OnePlus Nord.

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