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Google Pixel 4a || Simple Yet Significant

Prologue

The Google Pixel 4a may have taken a long time to get here. But it is finally here and may just be the best budget phone of the year as it comes with the price tag of only $349. The two things you will be in love with this phone are – the display and the camera. If you have been waiting for the Pixel 4a all this time, it was worth the wait as it seems Google is trying to shift their gears from the premium segment with this phone. So, without any further delay let’s get on with the full review of this budget-friendly device from Google.  

Specifications Of Google Pixel 4a

General

Starting Price$349
Release DateAugust, 2020
DisplayOLED capacitive screen, 5.81 inches, 2340×1080 pixels, 443ppi density, 19:5:9 ratioHDR, Always on Display
Dimensions5.67 x 2.73 x 0.32 inches
Weight143 g 
ChipsetQualcomm SDM730 Snapdragon 730G (8nm),Octa-core (2×2.2 GHz Kryo 470 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 470 Silver),Adreno 618
RAM & Storage6GB/128GB UFS 2.1 
Rear Camera12.2 MP Wide (f/1.7, 27mm, 1.4micron, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)LED Flash, Auto HDR, Panorama, Astrophotography, Night Sight, Portrait etc.
Front Camera 8 MP Wide (f/2.0, 24mm, 1.12micron)Auto HDR
VideoRear: [email protected](4K), [email protected]/60/120fps, gyro-EPS, Slow-motionFront: [email protected]
Battery3140mAh (non-removable), Li-Po18W fast charging 
Network & ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac), dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, HotspotBluetooth 5.1 (A2DP, LE)GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSSNFC connectivity Unspecified FM Radio
Sound & AudioStereo Speakers3.5mm headphone jack
SensorsFingerprint (rear-mounted), Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer
Water/Dust ResistanceNo
Credit: Unbox Therapy

Unboxing

Let’s check-out what you get to see when you go ahead and open up the clean white packaging of Google Pixel 4a:

  • First and foremost, the Google Pixel 4a itself
  • A SIM ejector tool along with Quick Start Guides
  • Safety and Warranty documentations
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • An 18W fast charging power brick
  • An OTG for USB-A to USB-C
Credit: JSL Review

Design & Build

The Google Pixel 4a only comes in one color which is – Black. This is not a flashy or shiny looking phone but it is a well-made one, with an attractive matte plastic finish. The finish is quite pleasing to the touch of your hand and does not catch sticky fingerprints or smudges on its deck for long. And once you hold this phone in your hand, it honestly does not feel cheap, rather you get a super compact hold because of its skinny bezels. 

Now on the back of the phone, we have got our fingerprint reader, Google’s logo below that and a single camera placed on a shiny square shaped design. On the right side, we get a tactile feeling volume button as well as the power sleep-wake button which is in sort of a bluish-green color. On the left-hand side, there is nothing other than a SIM card slot which gives room to one SIM card only. So, you are not getting any expandable storage in this phone.

On the bottom, it looks like we have got dual speaker grills and a USB-C port. And finally, on the top, we get a microphone and a 3.5mm headphone jack which you do not get to see more often. 

Credit: JSL Review

Display

The 5.81 inches AMOLED (16M colors) screen with the resolution of 2340x1080p and a pixel density of 443ppi, is better than any of the devices you will see at this price. The screen-to-body ratio is 83.3% whereas the aspect ratio of this phone is 19:5:9. It supports HDR and uses Gorilla Glass 3 for its protection, which is strong enough to resist minor scratches but nothing more than that.

The full HD+ visuals are super crisp and every frame on this phone is packed with enough details. Most importantly, the display looks so much nicer itself because of its uniform bezels which do not feature any weird forehead or chin like the iPhones. 

Also, it is quite bright for the outdoor usages as it can reach about 680 nits with adaptive brightness cranked all the way up. But unlike most mid-range rivals, the Pixel 4a sticks to a basic 60Hz refresh rate. So, you are not getting that buttery smooth scrolling experience on this if you are used to a higher refresh rate. 

Credit: JSL Review

Camera

As you would expect, it is the camera where the Pixel 4a really shines because the camera system on this phone is fantastic. If you are just taking a regular easy photo, any modern smartphone can capture that quite easily. But when it comes to difficult shots where you have to do low-light or high dynamic range photography, the Google Pixel 4a aces it. 

There is a single 12.2 MP (f/1.7) lens on the back with Optical Image Stabilization, Dual Pixel Face Detection and Auto-focus. On the front, we get an 8MP (f/2.0) camera with fixed focus lens inside the hole-punch.

The main camera does great at night sight; especially in low-light conditions. It has an HDR and super contrast pixel look with a solid zoom. Google has left out secondary cameras like the wide-angle lens or the telephoto lens in Pixel 4a and that does have a weird side effect. When you go to the portrait mode on this phone, it does this aggressive 2x crop to snap. The portraits are up to the mark but they are not too great at the edges if you take a closer look at them. 

Credit: JSL Review
Credit: JSL Review
Credit: JSL Review

There is no extra image processor on Pixel 4a and which is why images do take a longer time to process. So, if you take a photo and jump right into the gallery, you have to wait for a beat for the image to fix itself. When you are on Night Sight mode and the phone detects itself to be really steady, it shifts to Astrophotography mode automatically. Another handy thing you will find in the camera section is that the app dials back some of its features like turning off the highlights and shadow sliders in Dual Exposure Compensation when it starts to get warm; this is really helpful to resist the phone from getting slowed down at times. 

Credit: Dave Lee
Credit: Dave Lee

When you go to the video mode, you would be able to take footage at [email protected] and [email protected]/60/120fps on the rear camera. On the front-facing camera, it comes down to [email protected] But compared to the still photos on Pixel 4a, which are great and can go toe to toe with cameras that cost like $1000, the footage taken by this phone is not as great as you get on the iPhone SE.  

Overall, if we are to talk about the camera system of the phones at this budget, Google Pixel 4a sets the bar. Because nothing is better at taking pictures than this phone when it comes to $349. 

Performance

Credit: Marques Brownlee

Software

Internally, we get Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G with Adreno 618 GPU embedded inside the Pixel 4a and it is certainly good enough for practically everything. For the storage option, you get to see only one variant of this phone which comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage but no micro SD card slot for expandable memory. 

The phone is running on the freshest Android 10 OS which comes with at least three years of software and security updates along with all of the best Pixel 4 flagship features such as the excellent recorder app that transcribes audio for you and the Car Crash Detection Tool. But you cannot squeeze and activate the Android Assistant on this phone; rather, you have to swipe up from a corner to have it. 

Also, you do not get to see any facial recognition support on this budget device; but that is obviously not so much of an issue. Because the fingerprint sensor in the rear, even though it looks old-school, is superfast and opens right up, every time you touch the phone on its back. 

The overall usability of this phone seems to be pretty impressive as most of the time it is really fast but it does feel a little slower at times, due to that slower refresh rate of 60Hz.

Battery

The Pixel 4a features a 3140mAh (Li-Po) battery which will comfortably provide you a whole day of screen on time; especially when you have got the Adaptive Battery on and the device starts to learn your habits. But the phone’s longevity on the charge is easily its weakest quality. Admittedly, it is not awful for the price but this is that one area where you will really feel like you are losing out compared to a flagship. At least the phone charges up very fast with the 18watt adapter that has been included inside the box.

You do not get to see wireless charging on this phone which is not the biggest deal in the world but once you get used to having wireless charge, it is really hard to go back to not having it.

Credit: JSL Review

Gaming

As far as gaming, the phone seems to be okay but occasionally you will get to see a bit of a hiccup. There will be slowdowns over time as the back of the device gets a little bit warm which is to be expected when you are having an extended gaming session on this device. 

PUBG can be played at a reliable frame rate on top of HD detail levels while Call of Duty runs smoothly on those higher details. Considering the frame rates this phone provides you, when you are playing other heavy games like Asphalt 9 or Fortnite, it is likely to be very playable but certainly not as smooth as on flagships.

Credit: Marques Brownlee

Speakers & Audio Quality

This is a bit surprising that Google Pixel 4a comes with Dual Stereo Speakers out of the box which burst from both the upfront earpiece and the bottom of the phone. They sound pretty decent and turn out to be better than the expectation from a budget phone of this price. In addition to that, there is a headphone jack at the top for people who want that. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Comes at a cheap price of $349
  • The best camera at this budget
  • AMOLED display with reduced bezels
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • Enhanced battery life

Cons

  • No Face Unlock
  • No IP rating for water resistance
  • No Wireless Charging
  • No 5G connectivity
  • No expandable Memory
  • Plastic build 

Check Price on Amazon

Final Verdict

Overall, the Pixel 4a is the most basic Android phone that you can get. But the things this phone does not seem to have and some people may care about are – not having dual cameras on the back like the Pixel 4 XL and losing out on wireless charging as well as water resistance compared to iPhone SE. 

But surely, the Pixel 4a is of better value than the iPhone SE provided that it is cheaper, comes with more storage, and the best camera phone for the money. For $349 you are ought to be checking this phone out if you want a budget phone that actually seems to perform pretty well while running all of your basic apps and regular usages.

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