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Google Pixel 4a 5G Smartphone Review

The Google Pixel 4a 5G is a more wallet-friendly smartphone option that still offers premium technology. It also has similar specs to the more expensive Pixel 5 so can it stand should-to-shoulder with its more expensive relative? Let's find out.


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Google Pixel 4a
 

 

Quick Verdict

If you're going to buy a new Google Pixel smartphone this year, the Google Pixel 4a 5G should be it as it's cheaper than the Pixel 5 but shares the same cameras, and other technology, while offering 5G connection. It also has a larger display than you find on the Pixel 5, it looks great and has a brilliant price point. We really like the Google Pixel 4a 5G and we think you will, too.  

+ Pros

  • Price
  • Great display that's bigger than the Pixel 5 screen
  • Easy to use camera
  • Headphone socket
  • Brilliant camera AI 

- Cons

  • No telephoto lens/optical zoom
  • Not waterproof

 

The Google Pixel 4a 5G was announced alongside the Google Pixel 5 and even though it is less expensive than the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a 5G actually shares a lot of the same features including ultra-wide and wide-angle cameras, improved battery life, and 5G network support. So, the question we're asking is if the Pixel 4a 5G shares similar features but is £100 cheaper, what's the catch? As we've already reviewed the Google Pixel 5, we're looking forward to comparing the two smartphones to see which one is worth investing in. For those of you who'd like to spend even less money on a smartphone but still want some really cool features, there's also the Google Pixel 4a to consider, which, even though it shares the same name as the Pixel 4a 5G, actually offers rather different specs.

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Google Pixel 4a 5G Features

Google Pixel 4a
 

If you've recently read our Google Pixel 5 smartphone review, you might get a bit of deja vu in this section as the Google Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 are very similar handsets in terms of what the camera has to offer and processing power but there are a few differences in battery performance, storage, RAM, screen size, audio and what'll happen if you drop your phone in a bucket of water. 

The Google Pixel 4a 5G has the same dual 12.2MP f/1.7, 27mm (wide) with dual pixel PDAF and OIS and 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera set-up as the Pixel 5 and it also has the same 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide selfie camera. Both smartphones also feature all of the same camera modes such as Night Sight, Live HDR+, Cinematic Pan, and Portrait Light, too, along with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor. 

Where things start to differ are with the construction (plastic back/frame on the Pixel 4a 5G while it is metal on the Pixel 5), you get 2GB less RAM on the Pixel 4a 5G but the same 128GB storage and the battery is smaller at 3885mAh which is still bigger than the Pixel 4 was introduced with last year. A couple of differing positives are the 3.5mm audio jack which has been removed from the Pixel 5 and the display is bigger, too, measuring 6.2-inch. 

Other features include USB-C and stereo speakers but the Pixel 4a 5G isn't water-resistant and doesn't offer wireless charging. It is less expensive, though, coming in at £499. 

You can compare the specs of all three new Google smartphones for yourself in the table Google provided below. 

Pixel 4a 4a 5G 5 Comaprison Chart

Key Features

  • Full-screen 6.2-inch, 1080x2340 pixels, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Rear Camera: 12.2MP f/1.7, 27mm (wide) with dual pixel PDAF and OIS, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide. 
  • Front Camera: 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
  • Camera Features: Live HDR+, Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Blur and Super Res Zoom
  • Video: 4K @ 30/60fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120/240fps with gyro-EIS
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Battery: 3885mAh (fast charging)
  • RAM/Memory: 6GB/128GB
  • Dimensions: 153.9mm x 74mm x 8.2mm
  • Weight: 168g
  • Other: USB-C, stereo speakers, 5G, rear fingerprint sensor, plastic back and frame
  • Not water resistant 
  • Colour options: Just Black

 

Google Pixel 4a 5G Handling

Google Pixel 4a
 

The Google Pixel 4a 5G might be a little bigger than the Pixel 5 but it fits in the hand just as well and is comfortable to operate with just one hand. It's a bit more weighty and slightly thicker so doesn't fit quite as well but in comparison to other smartphones currently available, it's pretty compact. 

At a glance, you'd think that the back and frame are constructed from the same metal as the Pixel 5 but when you hold it, you realise it's not. In fact, it's made from plastic and just has a similar matt finish. It's not quite as grippy as the Pixel 5 but fingerprints aren't as apparent as they are on smartphones with glass backs. Of course, the plastic back means you can't use wireless charging but fast charging is available.

On the side are the power/volume buttons which are constructed from plastic and click nicely and on the bottom you find the USB-C port and stereo speakers. On top is a 3.5mm headphone jack (bonus) but there's no MicroSD card slot so you have to stick with the 128GB of memory and use cloud storage. 

 

Google Pixel 4a
 

The 6.2-inch, 1080x2340 pixel screen is slightly bigger than then one found on the Pixel 5 but it's only constructed from Gorilla Glass 3. This doesn't stop colours from appearing vibrant, though, and brightness levels are ok. 

Turn the smartphone over and you have a fingerprint sensor as well as the square camera housing which sits pretty flush to the smartphone so it doesn't rock when you place it on a table. 

In the camera square on the rear, you find a 12.2MP f/1.7 27mm (wide) camera with dual pixel PDAF and OIS as well as a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera. There's no telephoto lens which is something you see even in mid-range smartphones nowadays so instead you have to use Google's Super Res Zoom which is digital. 

Quite a few AI features and camera modes are built-in which include Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Light (this brightens faces at various angles), Live HDR+, Panorama and Time Lapse. The Photo Editor has been improved, too, and you also have Cinematic Pan for smoother panning when shooting video which can be captured in the following formats: [email protected]/60fps and [email protected]/60/120/240fps with gyro-EIS. On the front is an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera. 

The camera app interface looks pretty much as it always has on Pixel smartphones with options to the bottom and the shutter button in the middle. 

Battery life - The Google Pixel 4a 5G has a 3885mAh which isn't ground-breaking but it is better than then 2800mAh battery found in the Pixel 4. 

Geekbench 5 Scores - The Google Pixel 4a 5G scored 595 single-core and 1626 multi-core when tested with Geekbench. 

 


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Google Pixel 4a (5G) SEARCH

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Comments


EddieAC 17 3.5k 2 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2021 11:56PM
I've just acquired a Pixel 4a 5g from a technology benefit scheme through my workplace.

I'm quite happy with it. After having a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge the Pixel handles quite well in comparison.

The Google Pixel 4a 5g does not have a memory expansion slot for a Micro SD card but it does have 128GB of memory so this should be sufficient for most users.
EddieAC 17 3.5k 2 United Kingdom
13 Dec 2021 8:36PM
As an addition to my previous comment after having a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge for several years I used to charge it wirelessly with a base charger. Both my wife and I have previously had trouble with the charging port on Samsung's and believe that this is or has been a weakness on this particular brand.

Now the Google Pixel 4a 5g does not support base charging and requires that the cable be plugged into the charging port. Now rather than wasting my base chargers I found on Amazon a wireless charging receiver now I can use my base chargers again.

The receiver plus into the charging port and if I wanted to connect to a computer then I would have to remove this but I can transfer files by cloud if necessary.

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