Google Pixel 4a Review
The budget smart phone market has blown up over the past few years, and now all the major companies are trying to enter this market with their own phones, sacrificing build quality, power, and more, in order to get a phone at a budget price, while still turning a profit. Apple and Google have been at the forefront of this marketplace fight, with the iPhone SE and the Pixel ‘a’ series of phones. Thanks to our friends at Google Canada, we are currently using the brand new Pixel 4a smartphone, and early impressions are impressive!
This is a review in progress of the Google Pixel 4a. We fully believe that a smartphone takes weeks to review, not days. However, we do want to share our early impressions as the phone launched September 10th in Canada for 479.00.
It’s not secret that budget phones don’t have the same features and benefits of their more expensive brothers and sisters, and the second you put the Google Pixel 4a into your hands, that is instantly apparent. If you’ve read our Google Pixel 4 XL review you’ll know we loved that phone, and it came with tons of great new features over the previous Pixel 3 generations. If you’ve used the Pixel 4 and grab the 4a, you’ll notice the difference.
The Pixel 4a uses a plastic encasement, and while this does make the phone lighter, it’s also a cheaper material. Thankfully, Google has their own fantastic cloth case that you can pickup alongside your phone – we love ours! When you flip the phone over to the back, the finger print scanner is right where it was on the regular Pixel 4, but glance at the top corner and you’ll see the same camera footprint but with less cameras. Gone are the telephoto lens and the wide angle lens, two of the least used lenses that shipped with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, at least according to reviewers and owners we talked with.
The other physical changes aren’t all negative, however, as the Pixel 4a does come with the 3.5mm headphone jack, a big missing feature for myself on the Google Pixel 4 XL. It’s understandable, however – if finances are the reason why you are picking up the Pixel 4 XL, it’s likely you won’t be springing for Bluetooth earbuds, and will either use an existing set of buds you already own, or purchase a cheaper pair. This isn’t a give-in, of course, but it is some forward thinking from Google.
Google has also changed up their 5.8 inch display – a problem many Google owners have had over the past few phone generations. The google 4a now has an edge-to-edge display, and instead of having notch or thick beazle at the top of the phone (notch on the 3XL and large bezel on the 4 XL), the 4a is actually using the punch-out method to display the front facing camera. To accommodate, the single speaker is at the bottom of the phone.
The other major changes don’t come until you load up the phone for the first time and try to use features you might be familiar with if you owned the Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL. There is no more squeezing the phone to access the assistant, and if you’ve been using a 90hz display, going down to a 60hz might be really tough. You also won’t have the ability to wireless charge this phone – a bigger issue for me than I though as I used the wireless charging pad in my car all the time. There is also no face scan unlock feature, which during the COVID pandemic isn’t really missed since I’m wearing a mask so often. The phone also won’t interact with your hand gestures, so if you enjoyed having your Pixel 4 XL wake-up and unlock as you moved it upwards, you’ll need to spend those few extra milliseconds to begin consuming your content.
But there is something here that will make the Google Pixel 4a one of the most sought after mid-market phones available, and it’s the incredibly accessible camera. For so many folks, the primary purpose of their cell phone is to browse the internet, interact on social platforms, and take pictures. Even though I personally play a ton of games on my phone, even I would admit that 80% of my time is spent doing those above mentioned three things.
And the camera shots on the Pixel 4a are incredibly impressive, although I do miss the telephoto lens and macro lens from time-to-time. Check out these incredible shots taken on our Pixel 4a on my brothers bee farm! For fun, why not spot the bees!
One Month Later
We’ve been using the Google Pixel 4a for about a month now, and are pleasantly impressed. Google is working on entering and staying the mid-tiered smart phone market (sub 500$), and are even pushing into that upper mid-tier with the Google Pixel 4a 5G and the Google Pixel 5. When it comes to bang-for-buck, the 4a is delivering in almost everyway, from the outstanding camera to the fantastic processing chip.
What I’ve found is that incredibly expensive smartphones have gimmicks and processing power that hte average person doesn’t need. There is no folding design here like Samsung is trying to push, and you aren’t talking about the latest and greatest chips that Apple is using. But that is perfectly fine. I can have multiple apps open at once and quickly swap between them on the Pixel 4a. I can play any game I want on the Google Play Store, without issues and without taking a graphical hit. For a phone at this price point, it’s really hard to get more features than what you end up paying, but somehow Google brought all the best from the Pixel 4 / Pixel 4 XL and gave it to us at a lower price.
Sure, some might not be a fan of the plastic design – which definitely cuts down on costs – but that’s a minor difference in quality for the price drop you will be seeing between the flagship Pixel 4s and the 4a.
When it comes to spending your money on a smart phone, regardless of what you use it for – gaming, social media, pictures, Netflix, etc. – this is the phone to buy at the mid-tier in 2020. And if you want a few more features, we suggest waiting for reviews to drop on the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5!