Google Pixel 4a, review: High-end photography on a Pixel at a Nexus price

The Google Pixel 4a is the best Pixel for most and one of the best phones in the mid-range segment Android of 2020.

Despite having arrived somewhat later than expected, the latest Google terminal shows that combining a high-end photographic section with the best possible Android experience, all this added to a solvent technical section and a price even lower than that of the Pixel 3a, it works.

And it is that even having slightly modified the formula compared to last year – by offering a single model instead of two – Google has once again found the key with this Pixel 4a, again breaking the unwritten rules of the mid-range. Those that say that a 400 euro mobile cannot have one of the best cameras on the market.

In addition, we must add all the improvements that make the Pixel 4a an even more complete and balanced mobile than last year’s model, which has been shown to us after our in-depth test.

Google Pixel 4a review high end photography on a Pixel at a Nexus price

Pixel 4a, datasheet

Google Pixel 4a


Dimensions 144,2 x 69,5 x 8,2 mm
143 grams
Screen 5.81-inch 19.5: 9 OLED
Gorilla Glass 3
Always on Display
Resolution Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) 443 pp
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
Operating system Android 10
Storage 128 GB UFS 2.1
Cameras Rear: 12.2 MP ƒ / 1.7 main, 1.4 μm pixel, Dual Pixel autofocus and phase detection, OIS + EIS. LED flash | Video up to 4K at 30 FPS
Front: 8 MP ƒ / 2.0 with fixed focus and 1.12 μm pixel size | Video up to 1080p at 30 FPS
Battery 3,140 mAh with 18W fast charge (USB Power Delivery)
Others Rear Pixel Imprint fingerprint reader with support for gestures, 3.5 mm headphone port, stereo speakers, Google Lens, USB 3.1 Type C, Double Tap To Wake, Now Playing, Titan M Chip, three years of guaranteed updates.

The best of the Pixel 4a

Performance and overall experience

Nobody knows how to make Android like Google, and you have to try a Pixel to realize it. May the sheet of the Pixel 4a than the bulkier of between mobile its –without segment go. Further, the OnePlus Nord equips a more powerful processor and RAM, costing only 10 euros more– but the day-to-day experience with Google software is so good that the numbers are relegated to the background.

The Snapdragon 730G, added to the 6 GB of RAM, makes everything move with great ease. The experience is not very different from what could be obtained with one of the models of the Pixel 4 series, several hundred euros more expensive than this Pixel 4a. The terminal does not suffer excessively when it comes to running heavy games, although in that sense, the load times do become somewhat higher than in a mobile with a higher line processor. Be that as it may, I have not missed more power at any time during my tests.

“The experience with Google software is so good that the numbers are relegated to the background.”

The RAM extra compared to last year’s model also helps, mainly by allowing a more significant number of applications to be open in the background, without fear that they will end up being automatically closed by the operating system. However, I am confident that starting this year, Google will decide to implement the 8 GB as a base in the Pixel series, beginning with the future Pixel 5.

Performance and overall experience

That in terms of performance. Regarding autonomy, it is worth mentioning that, although its 3,150 mAh does not work wonders, the fact of using a processor that stands out in a way for its efficiency and well-optimized software makes the autonomy of the phone more than correct and is at the level of what is expected in mobile of this price, being able to endure the day of use reaching more than five hours of screen on. In that sense, it even exceeds the numbers that the Pixel 4 was capable of offering – the reduced-size version, not the XL model.

Many more details and aspects add points to the experience with the Pixel 4a, which makes it unique compared to other terminals in the same category. This is the case of the new Google Assistant, faster thanks to greater integration into the device and with a more polished interface; additions such as the mode Always on Display or the “It is sounding” function capable of detecting the music that is playing around us to show us the title of the song and its artist, without the need for an Internet connection.

I also have to stop at the excellent haptic engine that this terminal includes, at the level of the one included in the Pixel 4 and, as such, one of the best that can be found in an Android terminal, capable of offering a vibration response firm and pleasant both when writing and when interacting with other elements of the system.

The same happens with the audio, which, thanks to the support offered by the headphone at the top, the stereo audio experience adds many points to the multimedia section of the device. Also, the audio quality is good and does not distort excessively at higher levels.

Performance and overall experience 2

The experience offered by the software and the details of the Pixel 4a are precisely the same as the Pixel 4 already provided, so that one of the great strengths of the Pixel remains in this affordable model. That, of course, includes the guaranteed minimum of three years of system and security updates. And since its launch occurs only a few weeks before the arrival of Android 11, something tells me that, most likely, Google is not going to leave the Pixel 4a without the future update to Android 14 that should arrive in 2023, making this model the first in the Pixel series to receive four operating system updates.

Design and display: sometimes less is more

It’s time to start differentiating between design premium and sound design. By today’s standards, the Pixel 4a’s plastic body has a slight premium instead. That, however, does not mean that it is a poorly designed terminal—quite the opposite.

Its chassis, one of the most compact and lightest that we have tested this year with only 14 centimeters in height – only one centimeter more than the iPhone SE 2020 – and 143 grams of weight that will delight mobile lovers small, it has a smooth matte finish that feels great in hand, and whose difference compared to the combination of glass and aluminum of the more expensive models of the Pixel 4 series is not as easy to perceive as it might seem.

Design and display sometimes less is more step1

Design and display sometimes less is more step2

The format of this Pixel 4a has some other advantages, such as the fact that its back is built in a single piece of plastic that extends along the sides until it meets the screen so that we do not find edges. Or unevenness when traversing the body of the terminal with your fingers.

“At just 14 centimeters tall and weighing 143 grams, the Pixel 4a will delight lovers of small mobiles.”

For the rest, we are talking about a sober-looking terminal with an aesthetic that combines the lines of the previous Pixel 3a with those of the latest generation of Google phones so that we have a completely smooth back without the two-tone finish. That disappeared after the arrival of the Pixel 4, but with a capacitive fingerprint reader located behind it.

The fingerprint sensor, by the way, is high-speed and accurate, and its position makes it accessible at all times when using the mobile, either with one or two hands.

As if all the above were not enough, it is worth mentioning that, unlike the rest of the Pixel series, the 4a does include a 3.5-millimeter headphone port .

Design and display sometimes less is more 1

Surrounded by the body of the terminal is the 5.81-inch OLED screen that occupies almost the entire front of this Pixel 4a and is led by a small hole located in the upper left part of the panel.

It is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the crown of this terminal, thanks to a perfect color reproduction with a balanced white balance, good sharpness given its size and resolution, and a maximum brightness level that reaches to surprise – I would say that the panel is brighter than that of my Pixel 4 XL–

Design and display sometimes less is more 3 step1

Design and display sometimes less is more 3 step2

In addition to that, like the Pixel 4, this model has the function of attention to the screen, which keeps it on while we look at it. It also incorporates additions worthy of more expensive models, such as changing the white balance and saturation of colors or support for HDR content.

The worst of the Pixel 4a

Small shortcomings

Small shortcomings

The Google Pixel 4a is not perfect as no other mobile is, even less if we talk about one of less than 400 euros. And although it may be one of the terminals closest to the excellence of all those in its category, it is not free of shortcomings and defects. These are some of the most important:

  • Going back to a 60 Hz screen after trying 90 or even 120 Hz panels can be disappointing. The smoothness provided by a screen with a high refresh rate is missing from minute one.
  • Wireless charging and water resistance are two aspects that are not too common in mid-range mobiles. That is why the Pixel 4a, a mid-range very different from the others, would have been the perfect candidate to introduce these features.
  • A second camera, preferably ultra-wide-angle, would be the finishing touch for an already excellent photographic system.
  • “Just Black,” literally. The Pixel 4a only comes in black. Where are the blues, oranges, violets, and other unique colors of the Pixel series?

So are the cameras of the Pixel 4a

So are the cameras of the Pixel 4a

With the Pixel 4a camera, you will not go as far as with the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the Huawei P40 Pro +. Still, you will be able to take better photos than with the vast majority of mobiles on the market, with a single touch and without overthinking about it.

And it is that Google, once again, bets on the essential: a single 12-megapixel camera – the same that the brand has been using since the Pixel 3, with some changes in optics – with an aperture f / 1.7 stabilized optically and electronically. It will take care of every one of the captures you take with the central system. No “telephoto” or “ultra wides.”

Therefore, all the power of the Pixel camera resides in its capabilities in terms of software – even more so considering that this model does not include the Pixel Neural Core co-processor – and in all the advances of Google in the field of computational photography.

In that sense, the terminal inherits all the camera functions of the Pixel 4, from astrophotography mode to continuous focus or the double exposure system. Further proof that a single camera, if it is good, can offer a far superior experience than multiple photographic systems that try to justify their existence on the premise that “more is better.” When it is more than clear that, in terms of photography, this statement is not valid.

So are the cameras of the Pixel 4a 1

And that, of course, translates into an excellent experience with any of the device’s cameras. Be it portraits, selfies, landscape photographs, or more complex captures such as a night photo or a capture of the stars; the Google Pixel 4a complies without messing up, offering images of fantastic quality, with a precise and pleasant interpretation of colors, and an excellent dynamic range, while also maintaining the level of contrast that gives photographs a look so characteristic of Pixels.

Finding differences between the captures taken with the Pixel 4a camera and those born with the Pixel 4 is not easy. We will only see notable differences in those captured with zoom. Still, Google’s lossless zoom system can preserve a surprising amount of detail in enlarged images.

So are the cameras of the Pixel 4a 2 step1

Just as surprising is the night vision mode, even with a less powerful processor and without the support of the co-processor signed by Google, it acts fast when processing photos and extracting light from where it seems to be missing.

To conclude, I recommend taking a look at the photography section of our analysis of the Pixel 4 XL because, in broad strokes, the experience with both terminals is very similar in this regard. That implies, among other things, that video recording is not one of the strengths of this terminal. However, it is capable of defending itself without reaching the level of the iPhone SE.

Pixel 4a, opinion and final thoughts from Andro4all

Pixel 4a opinion and final thoughts from Andro4all

The Pixel 3a set a promising precedent, and the Pixel 4a has far exceeded our expectations for the new edition of Google’s affordable phone.

“In mobiles like this, the numbers weigh much less than the experience.”

The numbers are not on your side, but we must not forget that, above all, Google is a software company, and it is precisely this software that makes those cuts in terms of hardware that in other terminals would be weaknesses, pass to be strengths in this Pixel 4a. You have to see the wonders that good software can do next to an old-fashioned 12-megapixel sensor.

If you are one of those who can come to understand that, in mobiles like this, the numbers weigh much less than the experience, and that in that sense, there is no mobile capable of offering what this terminal provides, this is the Pixel you were waiting for.

Pixel 4a price and where to buy it

If you thought that the wait for the Pixel 4a was over with its presentation, you were wrong. In Spain, the terminal can be reserved from September 10, and its sale to the public opens from October 1. It will be then when you can buy it through the official Google store for 389 euros for its only configuration of 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage .

Google Pixel 4a, opinion and note from Andro4all
Should you buy the Google Pixel 4a?
In favor
  • Almost everything is good about a Pixel 4, for half the price
  • Good performance. The 6 GB of RAM combined with the Snapdragon 730 offers a great experience
  • The best camera on the market in mobile of its category
  • No other software offers such a smooth, consistent, or convenient add-on Android experience
  • Its small size is appreciated among so many giants
  • Good audio quality through stereo speakers
  • 90 Hz is almost essential in the middle of 2020
  • A wide-angle camera would have been an exciting addition
  • No wireless charging or IP certification
Conclusions Having a mobile phone with a Pixel 4 camera and the experience that only Google’s software can offer, at a price more typical of a Chinese mobile than a Pixel, is the dream of many. A plan comes true with this Pixel 4a, the best mobile on the market, for less than 400 euros.

★ ★ ★ Google Pixel 4a

The Pixel for those who miss the Nexus.