Google Pixel 4a vs OnePlus Nord: the great battle of 2021

If you want to share mobile for less than 400 euros, the Google Pixel 4a and the OnePlus Nord are, most likely, your two best options. But which of the two is better?

Now that we have been able to test both terminals thoroughly, we have decided to face them to see the best mid-range terminal in the 300-400 euro segment of these two heavyweights launched in 2020.

Google Pixel 4a vs OnePlus Nord the great battle of 2020Pixel 4a vs. OnePlus Nord, feature comparison

Comparison Pixel 4a vs. OnePlus Nord
specs Pixel 4a OnePlus Nord
Dimensions 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2 mm
143 grams
158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
184 grams
Screen 5.81-inch OLED 19.5: 9
Gorilla Glass 3
Always on Display
6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED 20: 9
90 Hz
Support sRGB and Display P3
Gorilla Glass 5
Resolution and density Full HD + (2340 x 1080 pixels) 443 dpi Full HD + (2400 x 1080 pixels)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
OS Android 10
System and security updates guaranteed for three years
OxygenOS 10.5 based on Android 10 System
updates assured for two years, and security updates for three
Storage 128 GB UFS 2.1 128/256 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
Rear: 48 MP f / 1.75 Sony IMX586 with OIS / EIS + Ultrawide 8 MP f / 2.25 + Macro 2 MP f / 2.4 + Depth Sensor 5 MP f / 2.4
Front: 32 MP f / 2.45 + Ultrawide 8 MP f / 2.45 Sony IMX616 (105º FOV)
Battery 3,140 mAh with 18W fast charge (USB Power Delivery) 4,115 mAh with fast charging Warp Charge 30T
Others Rear Pixel Imprint Fingerprint Reader with Gesture Support, 3.5mm Headphone Port, Stereo Speakers, Google Lens, USB 3.1 Type C, Double Tap To Wake, Now Playing, Titan M Chip Alert Slider, on-screen optical fingerprint reader, face unlock, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, USB 2.0 Type C
Starting price 389 euros 399/499 euros

Design and display: two ways of understanding the mid-range

To say that the Pixel 4a and the OnePlus Nord are very different mobiles would be an understatement. The reality is that the two terminals, despite sharing a range and having a similar price, have rather little to do in terms of physical appearance.

The Pixel, for its part, is committed to an extremely compact format, only 14 centimeters high, which makes it one of the most comfortable mobile phones at hand that we have tested in a long time. In addition, it is constructed of plastic with a smooth matte finish.

OnePlus, on the other hand, opts to bring its mid-range device closer to the “premium” segment, giving it a somewhat more striking appearance through a shiny glass back. The edges, yes, are made of plastic.

There are also similarities: neither of the two terminals has resistance to water or dust – or, at least, they do not include a certification that supports it -, and both lack wireless charging.

Two points in favor of the Pixel in this regard are the inclusion of a 3.5-millimeter audio jack and a stereo speaker system capable of producing audio much higher in quality than the Nord.

Design and display two ways of understanding the mid rangeOne of the main differences between the two terminals is present on your screen. Following in the footsteps of the brand’s previous models, the Nord integrates a Fluid AMOLED panel with a 90 Hz refresh rate. Google, for its part, remains somewhat more conservative with its 60 Hz.

The difference in this regard is notable: the fluidity provided by the OnePlus’ extra 30 hertz is certainly difficult to ignore, and once the tests are hard to go back. Those of you who haven’t tried a panel with a 90 Hz refresh rate is probably not going to miss it.

Although the screen is one of the strengths of each model, I have to say that the Pixel 4a panel seems to be of better quality and surpasses that of the OnePlus in terms of color rendering. But the smoothness of the panel is not everything. Do not forget, in addition, that the Nord suffers from some problems on its screen that are worth taking into account.

For the rest, we are facing two panels with the same resolution but a very different pixel density, given the disparity in terms of size. The Pixel 4a exceeds 440 pixels per inch, while the Nord narrowly exceeds 405 points.

In any case, we are talking about AMOLED screens with a hole in the upper left part – double in the OnePlus – and surrounded by reduced margins. On the Pixel, all the margins are similarly thick, giving the device a somewhat more symmetrical appearance than in the Chinese model.

It is also necessary to talk about the different biometric systems of the terminals. Both have a fingerprint reader. On the Nord, it is built into the screen and is quite fast and accurate. But it still does not reach the integrated level on the back of the Pixel 4, extremely fast when unlocking the device.

Performance and autonomy: numbers are not everything

Yes, the OnePlus Nord runs – a bit – faster than the Pixel 4a. The sum of a more powerful processor such as the Snapdragon 765G and software developed to offer the highest possible speed make the Nord fly in the same way that the rest of the brand’s phones do.

But the reality is that the differences in performance are not very noticeable. Both terminals work exquisitely, on the OnePlus for its raw power and on the Pixel for Google’s work in developing its version of Android.

In other words: if you were thinking of opting for one or the other based on their performance on a day-to-day basis, I’m afraid you’re wrong. Both will offer you a very good performance from day one, which will most likely continue over the years.

Performance and autonomy numbers are not everythingWhere there are notable differences is in the field of software. As usual, Google advocates offering an Android experience as simple as possible, spiced up with its add-ons that promise to make life easier for us on a day-to-day basis. The Pixel also has a minimum of three years of guaranteed Android updates and will be one of the first to update to Android 11.

The OnePlus Nord, on the other hand, maintains version 10.5 of OxygenOS that debuted alongside the OnePlus 8, based on Android 10. And although it is a layer whose appearance does not deviate excessively from the lines of Android stock, the reality is that it is still a software with not very useful add-ons that lead to problems such as its aggressive battery optimization system or the fact of including the application installer, the services, and the Facebook application manager. Additions that we complained so much about when it was Samsung who included them.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that the OnePlus Nord has two years of guaranteed system updates – one less than the Pixel – and three years of security updates.

Performance and autonomy numbers are not everything 1With the numbers in front of you, many would dare to say that the autonomy of the OnePlus Nord will be much higher than that of the Pixel 4a. But, once again, you have to remember that sometimes numbers are not everything.

The fact of having a screen with a higher refresh rate and software not as well-tuned as Google’s, make both terminals offer a fairly similar autonomy, capable of reaching the day of use and a little more and bordering on the six or up to 7 hours of screen on a good day. Where the OnePlus is superior is in terms of support for fast charging, as it maintains the 30W system that was already present in the OnePlus 8.

Photography: fewer differences than you imagine

When comparing the photographic systems of both phones, we find two different approaches – never better said.

OnePlus is based on the philosophy of more is better and provides its mid-range terminal with six cameras, four on the back and two on the front. Google, on the other hand, returns to the essentials with a rear camera and a front camera.

In their corresponding analyzes, we already entered to assess in more detail the photographic performance of both the OnePlus Nord and the Pixel 4a. But when comparing them, we find that the differences are not as obvious as one might expect.

Photography fewer differences than you imagineWhen scene conditions are on our side, the two phones can capture extremely high-quality images. And even when faced with more difficult scenes, the processing in the Pixel and the larger sensor of the OnePlus do their part to save the furniture and offer a pleasant experience in most cases.

Photography fewer differences than you imagine 1Both terminals fail in certain aspects, of course, the most obvious being the portrait mode and the dubious usefulness of the two additional sensors in the case of the OnePlus, and the lack of versatility that an extra sensor would provide in the case of the Pixel.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that both phones can offer a very good photographic experience. If I had to choose, the Pixel would be my choice for a mere matter of consistency and “reliability,” as well as the value that the Google add-ons provide – night vision, astrophotography, and dual exposure control, mainly.

Which one should you buy?

Which one should you buyIf you need a mobile right now and you have 400 euros to spend on it, there is no doubt: the OnePlus Nord is your mobile. And it is that for some reason – most likely related to the bad moment that the technology industry is going through – the Pixel 4a cannot be reserved until September, and its sale to the public will not open until October.

The Pixel, on the other hand, may be the best option for you if you value the extras in terms of software and photography that the Google experience brings, with which no other manufacturer can compete today. And if, in addition, what you are looking for is a handy terminal thanks to its compact size, I am afraid that the terminal of the big G should be the first in your list of candidates … if you have enough patience to wait until October.