Google Pixel 4a review, 6 months later: Still the best camera under $400

Replace, February 2021: Google Pixel 4a overview, six months later

Google’s a number of makes an attempt at making self-branded telephones have returned few victories, however one of the crucial transparent brilliant spots was once the Pixel 3a. It seems that Google’s “much less is extra” method in point of fact suits nicely throughout the constraints of a less-expensive telephone, and its strengths in tool and digicam processing stand out in opposition to less-refined pageant.

It may possibly simply be argued that its successor, the Pixel 4a, is the coolest reasonable Android telephone round, and an much more vital machine for construction the Pixel logo than the pricier Pixel five. And at the face of it, Google did issues proper with the 4a; it advanced the specifications, saved the similar nice digicam, and dropped $50 off the A sequence value. That makes an attractive package deal — this is the way it all works.

At a look

Google Pixel 4aGoogle Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a

Final analysis: The Pixel 4a is the funds digicam high quality chief — however it does not prevent there. It has a bigger display than the 3a, however in a still-compact frame, and is full of cast specifications and in point of fact just right battery existence. Its subdued design and loss of additional options might appear uninteresting to a few, however maximum will admire its simplicity in the case of ease of use, tool functionality, and constant digicam high quality.


  • Unbeatable digicam high quality at this value
  • Fantastic dimension for one-handed use
  • Sturdy battery existence
  • Headphone jack
  • 128GB garage
  • Assured tool updates for three years


  • Off-center show cutout is distracting
  • No secondary wide-angle or zoom digicam
  • Restricted colour choices

Google Pixel 4a Value & launch date

Pixel 4a Alex Back Outside Wall

Pixel 4a Alex Back Outside WallSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

The Pixel 4a was once introduced and made to be had for pre-order on August Three, 2020, then launched simply over two weeks afterward August 20 for $349.99. To begin with bought in one configuration, the Pixel 4a options the Snapdragon 730G processor, 128GB of garage, and 6GB of RAM, and as of November 2020 it is available in two colours: Simply Black, and the more moderen Slightly Blue.

Despite the fact that suitable with just about any community, the Pixel 4a will also be purchased immediately from Verizon, along side the unlocked type bought thru maximum outlets. It is price noting that whilst there is not any authentic “Pixel 4a XL” variant, the Pixel 4a 5G includes a higher show, a secondary ultra-wide digicam, 5G community beef up, and reasonably advanced specifications for $499.

Google Pixel 4a Hardware, show, options and specifications

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aSupply: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Google’s widely known for a minimalist design aesthetic even in its high-end telephones, so it is no marvel that it helps to keep issues very easy within the lower-end Pixel 4a. The plastic frame is outlined by means of its loss of aptitude or fascinating touches. From entrance to again, peak to backside, it is all clean traces and mild curves — highlighted by means of a unmarried pop of colour from a contrasting energy button. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is very shallow, to the purpose the place it is slightly prominent from the remainder of the again, which may make it a tad difficult to make use of till correct muscle reminiscence units in — despite the fact that I discovered even after two weeks that the swipe-down gesture was once inconsistent in comparison to earlier Pixels.

There is not any formal “XL” model of the Pixel 4a, despite the fact that the Pixel 4a 5G does have a bigger 6.2-inch show, along side minor spec enhancements and 5G beef up for an additional $150. The five.Eight-inch display dimension would lead you to imagine it splits the variation between the 3a and 3a XL, however with a taller 19.five:nine facet ratio show and dramatically smaller peak and backside bezels, the Pixel 4a is in reality smaller than the Pixel 3a; it is shorter and lighter than the Pixel Four, too.

Google’s is inconspicuous and efficient, and as a ways from flashy as that you must consider.

The small dimension is refreshing in a global the place affordable telephones have higher and bigger displays to take a look at and display better value-for-money. After the usage of the 4a for per week, my Pixel Four XL seems like a surfboard. The 4a is simple to make use of one-handed, extraordinarily gentle, and simply dollars the craze of bulky and heavy trendy telephones. Whether or not that is in reality a big sufficient marketplace section to draw a significant selection of consumers, despite the fact that, is a significant query. Between the small dimension and bland styling, Google does not be offering numerous curb enchantment to possible patrons.

The AMOLED display is cast for the cash, with strangely excessive brightness and fairly just right visibility out within the punishing solar of July in NYC. The 2340×1080 answer is greater than sufficient for this dimension, and off-axis colour shift — a not unusual factor on lower-end displays — is not an issue. I do understand some delicate inexperienced/purple blotchiness at positive angles when viewing white or gray displays, however that is a minor criticism for a telephone of this value.

The 4a will give you extra display, and higher specifications, in a smaller total package deal than the 3a.

Shifting to a “hollow punch” selfie digicam was once a important evil for dramatically decreasing the highest bezel, and whilst I in point of fact want it was once at the proper as a substitute of the left (pushing over the time and notifications is simply strange), it does not hassle me a lot. I admire the better-balanced bezel dimension across the display consequently, particularly because it suits into the minimalist total design.

The rounds out in point of fact well relating to options, with headphone jack at the peak and stereo speaker separation between a down-firing grille on the backside and the boosted earpiece on the peak. The audio system may not blow you away, however are above-average for this value and are greater than sufficient for staring at movies or enjoying video games.

Google Pixel 4a Device, functionality and battery existence

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aSupply: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

After spending the primary part of the 12 months the usage of the Pixel Four XL, Galaxy S20 Extremely and OnePlus Eight Professional, the Pixel 4a understandably underwhelms relating to functionality. However while you recalculate your expectancies according to value, and get used to it after a couple of days, there is not anything to bitch about right here.

You do not get flagship-level functionality, however the spec sheet is in point of fact just right for a $350 telephone.

In the case of the uncooked spec sheet, Google has accomplished proper by means of the budget-minded purchaser. The Snapdragon 730 processor is greater than in a position to dealing with Android 11, and 6GB of RAM is just right to look in the cheap machine. They mix for cast functionality, even supposing it is transparent that some heavier apps and multitasking are a beat slower than what you would be expecting in a top-end telephone. And it treated a pair lengthy classes of Name of Accountability simply high-quality — despite the fact that this did lead to a bit wonkiness with my thumb protecting the highest a part of the display triggering random auto-brightness changes. I by no means skilled any hangs or unresponsiveness, simply slight delays right here and there; par for the direction for this value. I additionally admire that the one Pixel 4a type has 128GB of garage, a shocking build up from the Pixel Four’s base 64GB.

The one performance-related hurdle for me to recover from was once switching again to a 60Hz show, which makes the 4a really feel slower than it’s — even supposing I for sure was amenable to it after per week. Outdoor of the OnePlus Nord, we have not come to be expecting larger refresh fee shows on this value vary, however now that individuals are turning into acquainted with 90 or 120Hz displays, 60Hz for sure seems like a step again.

The tool has not anything new or modified from what we see at the Pixel Four, 3a and three as of the Android 11 launch, however we by no means anticipated the 4a to introduce any new options. That implies you are getting a easy, easy-to-use and typically streamlined enjoy, with all of Google’s headline options like complex on-device Assistant purposes, name screening, the Recorder app, are living captions, the Non-public Protection app, and little treats like “Now Taking part in” song identity. Google’s tackle Android continues to be one among my favorites (neck-and-neck with OnePlus), and it takes a pleasing stability of being interesting to nerds and informal customers alike.

I want Google may just get this type of battery existence out of its high-end telephones.

There may be one giant query concerning the tool, despite the fact that: what is going to occur with updates? The 4a introduced with Android 10 in maximum markets, and was once therefore up to date to Android 11 along different Pixel units, which is a smart get started. However there is additionally the (far-off) long term to believe. Google promises “3 years” of platform updates for Pixels, however it’s not transparent how that will probably be treated bearing in mind the telephone’s release was once technically prior to the Android 11 launch. The Pixel 4a may just be installed a unusual limbo of lacking out on a last platform replace by means of a few weeks; I assume we’re going to to find out in 2023.

We get to look the culmination of the processor and 60Hz show with battery existence, which is strangely just right. And now not simply because I am getting a complete day of use out of only a 3140mAh battery, however as a result of I am doing so with 30% left on the finish of the day. In my same old use for a 15-16 hour day, with Three-Four hours of “display on” time, the usage of Ambient Show and the standard slate of utilities, surfing, messaging and social media, I used to be by no means short of for extra battery. Heavier duties like streaming video or navigating in Google Maps by no means hit the battery laborious, and I by no means as soon as reached Battery Saver mode, which I had set to return on mechanically at 15%. I will be able to’t even get this type of constant battery existence out of a Pixel Four XL.

At the charging finish, Google’s sticking with its similar 18W USB-C PD charging, which completely will get the process accomplished for this dimension of battery; despite the fact that as soon as once more it is a tad at the back of the likes of the OnePlus Nord’s 30W charging. That mentioned, I am totally satisfied to have a standardized and non-proprietary charging gadget, the place I would not have to pay $40 for an additional speedy charger. 18W PD chargers are abundant and pocketable at 1 / 4 of that value.

It is price noting that whilst the 4a does not include 5G, it does have large unlocked beef up for each service within the U.S. Now not most effective does it beef up Verizon, together with its legacy CDMA bands, however it additionally has 24 LTE bands to totally meet the desires of T-Cellular and AT&T. There may be additionally eSIM beef up along the common SIM slot, identical to the Pixel Four. Taking into account 5G hasn’t reached ubiquity within the cheaper price levels, it’s not a large loss — and any person who has to have it may possibly as a substitute purchase the Pixel 4a 5G.

Google Pixel 4a Cameras

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aSupply: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

The Pixel 4a without difficulty delivers fine quality footage each time you press the shutter.

Google has transparent strengths in logo popularity and tool ease-of-use, however the principle reason why for the Pixel 4a’s life is to convey an incredible digicam enjoy right down to a a lot more reasonably priced value. The 4a is the usage of the similar 12.2MP sensor because the Pixel five, supported by means of OIS (optical symbol stabilization) and an f/1.7 lens. Identical to with the Pixel 3a, it is a massive win: the Pixel Four is nonetheless within the dialog as the coolest Android digicam, even because it nears its first birthday.

The Pixel 4a’s largest digicam merit is with the ability to take wonderful footage and do it persistently. It without difficulty delivers fine quality footage each time you press the shutter, which is a rarity at this value. Footage do not blow you away with over-saturated colours or lots of additional pop, however that is the level — you simply get balanced, cast footage with excessive dynamic vary. Each and every time.

It’ll have only one digicam, however the 4a delivers top-tier footage no different funds telephone can contact.

It is an implausible rarity to take a photograph you would not be at liberty to save lots of and percentage, or even those that do not pop out completely are a handy guide a rough edit in Google Footage from being there. The usage of $1000+ telephones on a daily basis, I take with no consideration having this point of picture high quality in my pocket, however anytime I pick out up a inexpensive telephone I am reminded how vulnerable low-end cameras are — the Pixel 4a is a ways nearer to flagship than entry-level. That hole will get even wider while you see HDR+ have interaction in combined lights, or transfer to Evening Sight in darkish scenes; no different telephone inside $300 can maintain deficient lights this nicely.

The one time you are reminded of the 4a’s cheaper price is when you’re taking a number of HDR+ footage in brief succession, while you sit down and watch the processing development bar notification. Ready a few additional seconds is a bummer, however I have by no means misplaced a body, and when the effects are this just right you are prepared to attend occasionally. And it even has the horsepower to provide well-stabilized video in 1080p, or 4K30 video in case you favor.

The selfie digicam traces up the very same because the Pixel 3a — an 8MP f/ with fastened focal point — with the very same effects. Google’s selfie picture processing is top-notch, generating persistently just right pictures, however I am upset by means of the fastened focal point paired with an 84-degree lens that may make it difficult to seize your face sharply. Fortunately I’ve lengthy fingers, however extra average-sized people might to find it more difficult to get tack-sharp selfies, specifically of more than one other folks in combination.

An ultra-wide or 3X zoom digicam would’ve been great, however you’ll’t argue with those effects.

It is a legitimate criticism to mention that Google’s beginning to fall at the back of, even on this reasonably priced value vary, by means of most effective having a unmarried rear digicam. Whilst I admire Google’s restraint not to throw 3 additional (learn: dangerous) cameras at the again of the telephone simply to mention it has a “quad digicam” telephone, I might have liked to look a secondary ultra-wide or 3X zoom digicam.

Google’s “Tremendous Res Zoom” tech does an admirable process of polishing zoomed footage, however it is in point of fact most effective just right at 2X — anything else additional turns right into a grainy and blotchy mess. Or even the ones cast 2X footage are not so good as “actual” zoom that comes from a devoted longer focal period lens. Whiel I perceive why Google did not need to put an inferior secondary sensor in there simply to mention it has an ultra-wide digicam, I am satisfied that the Pixel 4a 5G rectifies this factor.

Google Pixel 4a Pageant

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus NordSupply: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

The inexpensive Android telephone house is full of implausible merchandise, and issues get tightly subdivided in tiny increments far and wide from $250 to $400. Within the U.S., the large participant is the Samsung Galaxy A51, which introduced at $400 however continuously retails for $300-325. That is the anti-Pixel 4a, with an enormous show and glossy external, plus all of Samsung’s same old over-the-top options. It is recognized for its inconsistent functionality, however it has a super spec sheet and implausible battery existence — and its digicam holds up nicely in opposition to the contest, even supposing it’s not at the 4a’s point.

Outdoor of the U.S., the OnePlus Nord is the most obvious 4a competitor at €400. The Nord arguably bests the Pixel 4a in functionality and tool fluidity, and for sure stands proud with its huge 90Hz show — plus it has superior battery existence and quicker charging. It additionally has 5G, if that is for your record of priorities. However just like the Galaxy A51, it is only a giant telephone, making it a competitor in value however now not in point of fact in dimension. Its digicam is a step at the back of the 4a’s, however I will be able to nonetheless see the Nord’s total package deal stealing a ton of gross sales from Google. The 4a wins in a couple of spaces, however you simply get extra within the Nord for roughly €50 additional.

Google Pixel 4a Will have to you purchase it?

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aSupply: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Who it is for

  • When you put an emphasis on digicam high quality
  • If you wish to have a telephone that is smooth to make use of one-handed
  • When you admire easy and streamlined tool
  • If you wish to have a headphone jack
  • When you care about common, long-running tool updates

Who it isn’t for

  • If you wish to have an enormous display for media or video games
  • If you wish to have an ultra-wide or telephoto digicam
  • If you wish to have a flashy, standout design or colour
  • If you wish to have 5G connectivity

The Pixel 4a does not mark a paradigm shift for the path of the Pixel lineup, and it’s not going to shake up all of the reasonably priced telephone house. However it is situated to simply pick out up the place the 3a left off because the best-selling Pixel telephone ever. Google modernized and advanced the design, stepped up the specifications, saved the similar nice digicam high quality, reasonably larger battery existence, and dropped the associated fee by means of $50 — that is an implausible deal.

out of five

Google dollars the craze of inexpensive telephones getting larger and larger shows, and I admire it — the ones in search of one thing higher can nonetheless get the Pixel 4a 5G. However even huge telephone fanatics must glance previous that dimension constraint and understand they are getting an implausible cost for most effective $350 right here. The digicam enjoy speaks for itself, the spec sheet goes to hold the telephone nicely for a pair years, and Google’s tool (and warranted updates) is all the time a energy. The Pixel 4a must be at the quick record for any person purchasing for a budget-minded telephone.

The most productive reasonable digicam

Google Pixel 4aGoogle Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a

It’s not giant or flashy, however you must believe the Pixel 4a anyway. It is a neat little package deal of excellent specifications, great tool and a super digicam — the full enjoy is price far more than the asking value.

Google Pixel 4a Six months later

Pixel 4a Alex Recorder

Pixel 4a Alex RecorderSupply: Alex Dobie / Android Central

Part a 12 months into the Pixel 4a’s existence cycle, it is nonetheless one of the crucial ideally suited offers you’ll get on a quick telephone with a super digicam. Whilst telephones just like the Galaxy S21 have introduced in a similar way competitive pricing methods to the high-end spectrum, few contenders have emerged within the sub-$500 house.

Despite its modest specifications, the Pixel 4a nonetheless runs Android 11 with out a lot hesitation, and fans who do not thoughts operating pre-release tool will also take a look at the Android 12 developer preview at this time — despite the fact that to be transparent, that is now not supposed for shopper use simply but, and will probably be significantly much less solid.

Google has expanded its lineup because the launch of the Pixel 4a, therefore launching the Pixel five and 4a 5G, however I nonetheless assume the baseline 4a is a smart are compatible for the general public. Whilst the 4a 5G gives a reasonably quicker processor, higher display, and 5G beef up, the fundamentals stay the similar, from the frequency of tool updates to the picture processing of the digicam and common construct high quality. It is nonetheless laborious to name 5G a need for just about any person in early 2021, and the Pixel 4a leaves little else to be desired in comparison to its higher sibling.

Even in opposition to the decidedly higher-end Pixel five, which prices two times as a lot, the variations are strangely few in quantity. The Pixel five has a quicker 90Hz refresh fee, along side a quicker processor, an aluminum enclosure in a position to water resistance and wi-fi charging, and an extra zero.6x ultra-wide digicam. Nonetheless, just about each different metric is similar if now not an identical; simply since you’re paying part the associated fee for the Pixel 4a, doesn’t suggest you are most effective getting part the enjoy.

We are already beginning to listen rumors of the Pixel 5a, which is able to allegedly be higher in dimension and just about fit the design of the Pixel 4a 5G — despite the fact that with so little to bitch about at the 4a sequence, it is not going that the 4a homeowners will really feel omitted or cheated any time quickly. That is nonetheless a lovely machine at an unbeatably low value, and I doubt that’ll trade any time quickly.

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