Google Pixel 4a assessment revisited: Six months later

Patrick
Google Pixel 4a camera and fingerprint reader

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Though the Google Pixel 4a arrived very late to the celebration final yr, it was nonetheless an enormous important success. Throughout the board, critics and patrons beloved the cellphone for delivering a strong set of fundamental specs for a particularly affordable value of simply $349. In our authentic Google Pixel 4a assessment, we known as it Google’s finest cellphone in years and it got here third in our Editor’s Alternative award for the perfect smartphone of 2020.

Test it out: The unique Android Authority assessment of the Pixel 4a

All that occurred again in August. Six months later, the smartphone panorama seems to be a bit completely different. Since then, we’ve seen an entire swath of latest iPhones, the launch of the unexpectedly-less-expensive Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence, and loads of bulletins and rumors of telephones coming down the pipeline quickly. With all that in thoughts, is the Pixel 4a nonetheless value contemplating?

That’s what this “revisited” sequence is all about. Over the span of 4 days this month, I used the Pixel 4a as my each day driver. Under, you’ll discover the issues I beloved in regards to the cellphone — in addition to the issues I wanted had been completely different. That is the Google Pixel 4a assessment revisited.


The nice

As a result of the Pixel 4a is a Pixel, there are specific issues about it that have to be nice. The 2 massive boys are the software program and the rear digicam. As a result of that is an “a” sequence cellphone, it additionally must be priced to maneuver. Unsurprisingly, these are the three features of this cellphone that shine brightest. Nevertheless, what’s notable is simply how brightly these features shine with the Pixel 4a.

Software program

Google Pixel 4a screen in hand 4

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

With few minor exceptions, the software program expertise on the Google Pixel 4a is similar as you’d get on a extra premium Pixel. That features the Google Pixel 5, which is twice as costly. Whereas this doesn’t sound too notable, I consistently stated, “oh wow, that function is right here,” to myself throughout my time with this cellphone.

For example, Google’s completely unbelievable Name Display screen function is on the market with the Pixel 4a (within the US, no less than). This Google Assistant-powered perk handles any name for you that comes from an unknown quantity. It solutions the decision and supplies a transcript of what’s stated so you’ll be able to then name again or mark the decision as spam. I get a lot of spam calls about automotive warranties (regardless that I don’t personal a automotive!), so this was superb. I’ve 2020 telephones in my arsenal that price over $1,200 and don’t have anything that comes near the comfort of this function.

Associated: Google Pixel telephones: A historical past of each cellphone launched to date

Likewise, different Pixel-exclusive staples are right here, corresponding to Sensible Reply, Stay Caption, Overview Choice, and many others. There’s additionally no bloatware to talk of and you may simply chat instantly with a Google assist rep by Settings in case you ever have any questions or points.

Clearly, since this can be a Pixel it additionally will get the newest safety patches and Android upgrades on day one. That is particularly notable as a result of there are a lot of 2020 flagship telephones from a number of manufacturers nonetheless on Android 10. It’ll even be supported with patches and upgrades till 2023, which will get you to Android 14. As soon as once more, that is one thing that everybody is aware of Pixel telephones do — however this cellphone is solely $349. It’s completely superb that its software program expertise surpasses $1,000+ flagships, and I believe it’s essential that we not deal with that as a minor factor.

Rear digicam

Google Pixel 4a front taking photo 2

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

There was a time when the rear digicam even on the Google Pixel 3a might go up towards most flagships. Regardless that the Pixel 4a’s digicam {hardware} is anemic in comparison with different telephones, Google’s unbelievable software program does a lot of the heavy lifting. That’s stored Pixel telephones on the high for years.

Nevertheless, that’s altering. Sensors in competitor telephones are getting larger and larger, whereas Google’s are just about the identical. What’s extra, different firms — particularly Samsung — are catching as much as Google within the software program division. This can be a actual downside for Google.

Opinion: It’s time Google up to date Pixel digicam {hardware} to match its stellar software program

That every one being stated, the Google Pixel 4a can nonetheless maintain its personal. Try this shot evaluating the identical picture from a Pixel 4a with a Samsung Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 4a Samsung Galaxy S21

Google Pixel 4a

Now, in my eyes, the Galaxy S21 picture is aesthetically higher. I like Samsung’s shade saturation, even when it’s a bit pushed. That being stated, the Pixel 4a picture is extra sensible and nonetheless seems to be nice. The extent of element on my cat Luther’s fur is notable for this digicam.

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 4a Samsung Galaxy S21

Google Pixel 4a

These two photographs are very shut in high quality. As soon as once more, the Samsung shade profile makes the picture pop an entire lot greater than Google’s extra impartial tone, however each look nice with loads of element.

This one exhibits how Google is struggling, although:

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 4a Samsung Galaxy S21

Google Pixel 4a

The Pixel 4a picture seems to be grayer with a bizarre haze, whereas the Galaxy S21 picture seems to be gorgeous. Google’s software program is unbelievable, little doubt about it, however it may possibly solely take the mediocre {hardware} of the Pixel 4a to date. The underside line right here, although, is that the Pixel 4a’s rear digicam can arise simply advantageous towards the Galaxy S21’s — and the Pixel 4a prices half as a lot.

Associated: The perfect finances digicam telephones you should purchase

Value

Google Pixel 4a back standing up on table 2

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

I’ve already hammered house how low-cost this cellphone is. At $349, a few of its rivals are unremarkable finances gadgets that land on second-tier carriers at dirt-cheap costs. The Google Pixel 4a trounces them in each regard.

I actually need to emphasize, although, that in my time engaged on this revisited Google Pixel 4a assessment, it by no means felt like I used to be utilizing an affordable cellphone. Positive, the Pixel 4a doesn’t look or really feel like a $1,200 flagship, but it surely definitely isn’t as dangerous as another telephones I’ve used on this value class. Design-wise, there are only some refined variations between this cellphone and the Pixel 5. They’re practically the identical dimension with an analogous design aesthetic. Positive, the Pixel 5 has a a lot cooler again panel, a greater show, an IP ranking, and many others., but it surely’s not like these telephones don’t share the identical DNA.

See additionally: How the costs of Pixel telephones modified over time

For the whole lot you get, $349 isn’t only a nice value — it’s a steal. Clearly, you’ll have to make some sacrifices for it (see the following part for extra on this), however there aren’t many telephones on the market that may compete with this one on the subject of worth, particularly within the US the place finances telephones are largely uninspiring fare.

Greenback-for-dollar, the Pixel 4a is absolutely the king of practicality — even in 2021.


The not so good

The “a” sequence from Google has a really particular function: to supply the necessities of the Pixel expertise whereas eliminating all of the frills to maintain the value as little as doable. In that sense, it’s very troublesome to complain about options lacking from the cellphone. As such, I’m going to concentrate on the issues which can be right here however ought to be higher.

Selfie digicam

Google Pixel 4a front facing camera macro

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

On the entrance of the Pixel 4a you’ll discover an 8MP selfie shooter. Similar to with the rear digicam, the sensor beneath is principally the identical because the one on the Pixel 3a from 2019. As soon as once more, Google is counting on software program to make selfie photographs look good.

Nevertheless, the {hardware} limitations of the selfie digicam power Google’s software program to do extra heavy lifting than traditional. Even beneath the perfect of circumstances, it may possibly buckle beneath stress.

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 4a Samsung Galaxy S21

Google Pixel 4a

Above, you’ll be able to see a selfie I took in entrance of a window on a cloudy afternoon. With the Pixel 4a, Google’s algorithms bend over backward to make the colours extra vibrant. It additionally works laborious to drop the intense window lights to keep away from the photograph getting overexposed. The result’s a great-looking picture.

Nevertheless, while you examine that to the identical picture from a Galaxy S21, you shortly see the restrictions of the selfie digicam {hardware}. The Pixel 4a’s picture is missing on the subject of element — take note of how completely different my lips look in each images. Additionally, take a look at how my heathered sweater turns into globulous in sure areas, whereas every strand is evident within the Samsung picture.

What’s loopy is that the Pixel 4a selfie would in all probability look higher than the Galaxy S21’s to the typical individual. However when you level out the deficiencies, it’s laborious to unsee them.

Right here’s a video instance. I observed Google’s destruction of particulars once I was doing my each day Story for the Android Authority Instagram web page (view fullscreen for finest impact):

As soon as once more, Google’s software program does an unbelievable job of pushing the mediocre digicam {hardware} of the Pixel 4a to the restrict. However, in trade, we get a loud picture that falls aside when you begin scrutinizing it.

I’ll completely concede that, for $349, the Pixel 4a’s entrance digicam actually delivers. Nevertheless, the examples above present the sacrifices you’ll make for that low value.

Efficiency

Google Pixel 4a upper half of display with apps 2

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Contained in the Google Pixel 4a lives a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset. Paired with it, you’ll discover a very respectable 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. That is greater than sufficient energy to offer you dependable efficiency throughout your on a regular basis duties.

Associated: What’s an SoC? All the things you have to know in regards to the silicon powering your cellphone

Nevertheless, throughout my time with this cellphone, I might completely inform I wasn’t seeing high-end efficiency. Once I first booted up the cellphone and began sweeping by the Google Play Retailer downloading my needed apps, it took quite a bit longer to take action than different, extra highly effective telephones I’ve used. With a bunch of apps open within the background, the cellphone began to lag a bit right here and there. I don’t do a lot cellular gaming, however judging from our benchmarks, I’m positive I might have seen loads of points there, too.

The purpose is that though the efficiency you’ll see from this cellphone will completely match the value you pay for it, that doesn’t imply it’s superior. It’s not. Sure, it can get the job completed and your common smartphone duties will go simply advantageous. However don’t have any illusions: this isn’t a cellphone for energy customers.

Energy

Google Pixel 4a back face down zoomed out 1

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Pixel telephones have traditionally been mediocre on the subject of battery life. Contemplating the Pixel 4a has a fairly small 3,140mAh cell inside, it ought to be of little shock that this cellphone will not be a two-day machine. Like with our authentic assessment interval, I noticed about six hours of screen-on-time throughout this revisited Google Pixel 4a assessment.

Now, that’s not dangerous. It’s not nice, but it surely’s definitely not dangerous. In the event you’re a light-to-moderate person and at house on Wi-Fi quite a bit, you can in all probability stretch this to be a two-day cellphone. Nevertheless, that might have to be beneath probably the most supreme set of circumstances. In the event you use your cellphone quite a bit and stay in an space the place it’s secure to enterprise exterior, you need to anticipate needing to place this cellphone on a charger at bedtime.

Purchaser’s information: The perfect moveable chargers and energy banks

Once you do put it on a charger, you’re solely going to get 18W of energy supply. It took me about 90 minutes to cost the cellphone from zero to full. Clearly, you’re not going to have the ability to wirelessly cost this cellphone, both.

All of that is completely ample for a $349 cellphone. The problem is that battery longevity and the flexibility to shortly cost your cellphone are quick turning into integral options for the trendy purchaser. Google can get away with these energy deficiencies for now. However in case you purchased this cellphone at the moment and deliberate on holding it for 2 years, by this time in 2023, this cellphone would really feel historic on the subject of the battery. That’s a disgrace and one thing you want to remember.


Google Pixel 4a assessment revisited: The decision

Google Pixel 4a in hand close to chest tight

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

It will be fairly straightforward to speak about all of the stuff you don’t get with a Google Pixel 4a. The shortage of wi-fi charging is a drag. A 60Hz refresh charge show may be too massive of a sacrifice for some when rival gadgets just like the OnePlus Nord hit 90Hz. No IP ranking, no wide-angle or telephoto lens, no fast-charging, no 5G connectivity — the record goes on.

To harp on these issues, although, is to overlook the purpose. This can be a cellphone that will get the fundamentals completed for as low of a value as doable. At that stage, it’s a true achievement and, in my view, completely nonetheless value shopping for.

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Actually, the one factor that might trigger me to not suggest this cellphone is the anticipated Pixel 5a. Though the Pixel 4a didn’t land till August final yr, it was supposed to return a lot sooner than that. It’s doable a Pixel 5a might land within the first half of 2021. And, if Google sticks with its technique, it can in all probability finest the Pixel 4a in quite a few methods whereas holding the value largely the identical.

My recommendation is that this: in case you want a cellphone ASAP and the Pixel 4a looks like a great match, don’t hesitate to purchase it. You can be blissful. In the event you don’t want a cellphone proper this second, although, I might anticipate the Pixel 5a. If the bounce in high quality/specs from the Pixel 4a to the Pixel 5a is something just like the bounce from the Pixel 3a to the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 5a can be one thing actually particular.

Google Pixel 4a The perfect of Google for $349

Getting the Google expertise has by no means been extra accessible. A compact cellphone that is straightforward to make use of, an attractive display, and top-of-the-line cameras on this value vary. The Pixel 4a is tough to beat.


What do you suppose? Is the Google Pixel 4a nonetheless value it in 2021? Would you fairly anticipate the anticipated Pixel 5a? Reply our ballot above!

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