Google Pixel 4a 5G Review: Big Screen, Great Camera And Value
Pixel 4a 5G: Affordable Pricing With Flagship Features
Don’t let the Pixel 4a 5G’s name fool you into thinking this device is the same as the Pixel 4a that was released back in August, with the sole addition of 5G support. Although the branding may be somewhat quizzical, the Pixel 4a 5G is a completely new device, with a larger form factor (it’s actually bigger than the Pixel 5), newer processing platform, additional rear camera, and a few other bells and whistles.
The new Pixel 4a 5G does look nearly identical to the “older” Pixel 4a, but that is by design. Google has embraced an overall aesthetic with its Pixel devices that’s distinctly similar across all its devices from the last couple of generations. Depending on your particular tastes, that may be a good (or bad) thing, but it certainly helps keep loyal fans of Google’s Pixel devices familiar with them as they upgrade or replace their phones over time.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look and this latest addition to the lineup...
|Processing And 5G Platform||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765|
|Display||6.2", (~84.1% screen-to-body ratio), 1080 x 2340, 19.5:9 ratio (~413 ppi density), Gorilla Glass 3
|Storage||128GB Storage (UFS 2.1)|
|Rear-Facing Cameras||12.2 MP, f/1.7, 27mm (wide); 1/2.55", 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; 16 MP, f/2.2, 107fov (ultrawide), 1.0µm
|Front-Facing Cameras||8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1/4.0", 1.12µm
|Video Recording||4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS; Selfie Camera - 1080p@30fps
|Battery||3885mAh (18w Fast Charging)|
|Dimensions||153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm (Sub-6) or 8.5 mm (Sub-6 and mmWave)
|Weight||168 g (5G Sub-6); 171 g ( 5G Sub-6 and mmWave)
|Connectivity||GSM, HSPA, LTE, 5G, 802.11ac, BlueTooth 5|
|Pricing||Find Google Pixel 4a 5G @ Amazon, Starting $ $499
As mentioned, the Google Pixel 4a 5G follows the same design language as the Pixel 3 and earlier Pixel 4 devices, save for a couple of mild tweaks and the different form-factor necessary to support the device’s bigger 6.2” screen.
Powering the device is Qualcomm’s mainstream Snapdragon 765G mobile platform, with an octa-core processor (Kyro 475 up to 2.4GHz), Adreno 620 graphics and X52 5G modem. The SoC is paired to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and a relatively stout 3885mAh Li-Po battery with support for 18W fast charging powers it all.
Like earlier devices, the Pixel 4a 5G is available in “Just Black” (seen here) and “Clearly White”, though the white version is locked to Verizon’s network. If you fancy the unlocked device, Just Black with its matte soft-touch finish is currently the only option.
Although announced alongside the Pixel 5, which is technically Google’s current flagship device, the Pixel 4a 5G is actually the larger device. It has a 6.2” OLED display (versus 6” on the Pixel 5), with a native resolution of 1080 x 2340 and a 60Hz refresh rate. That 60Hz refresh rate may seem low in light of many of today’s flagships (or the Pixel 5's 90Hz display), but it is par for the course in the Pixel 4a 5G’s price range. In terms of quality, however, the Pixel 4a 5G’s display is top-notch. The resolution isn’t stellar, but colors seem punchy and accurate, it gets plenty bright, viewing angles are excellent, and touch input is smooth and responsive.
The Pixel 4a 5G’s dimensions are 153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm and it weighs in at 168 grams (slightly thicker and heavier for the Verizon version with mmWave support). The front of the phone is all Corning Gorilla Glass, save for the speaker cutout at the top, and there’s a single punch-hole at the upper-left corner of the display for the front-facing 8MB selfie cam (1.12 μm pixel width, f/2.0 aperture).
The back of the phone is mostly smooth and has a minimalist style, with only the camera array bump out, an understated fingerprint sensor, and the Google ‘G’ logo present. The rear camera bump out protrudes far enough to make the phone wobbly when laying on a table, but that’s par for the course with the latest devices. It won't be an issue at all if you pop the phone into a case or bumper. The rear camera setup packs an LED flash and two shooters, a 12.2 MP, f/1.7, 27mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, shooter with dual pixel phase-detect AF and OIS, and a 16 MP, 1.0µm, with f/2.2 aperture and 107˚ field of view.
At the bottom of the Pixel 4a 5G you’ll find the USB-C charge / sync port, along with microphone and speaker grilles. At the top is another mic and a 3.5mm headphone jack – yes, an actual headphone jack. The left side of the phone is mostly bare, except for the SIM tray. And unfortunately, that tray is only for the SIM because the phone does not have expandable local storage. You can sync photos and personal files to the cloud, but if you'd like to augment the phone’s internal storage with a large micro-SD memory card, and have the flexibility to move that card from device to device, it’s not possible here.
The right side houses the power / lock button, which is white on the “Just Black” version of the device, and a volume rocker. The buttons are somewhat thin and require a fair amount of force to press, but are rock-solid with minimal wiggle and play.
All four corners and all of the Pixel 4a 5G’s edges are rounded and the same matte texture covers the back and sides. The polycarbonate unibody construction doesn’t feel quite as premium as some more expensive devices, but that doesn’t detract from the phone in our opinion – the slick glass on some other devices can be considered a negative in some ways. Overall, the build quality of the Pixel 4a 5G is great, with tight tolerances and a solid feel, but we should point out it is not dust or water resistant like the Pixel 5. It doesn’t support wireless charging like the Pixel 5 either. Boo.
We would also like to mention that the front and bottom firing speakers on the Pixel 4a 5G are surprisingly good. You won't get deep bass out of the tiny drivers on a smartphone, but the Pixel 4a 5G emits excellent audio for a smartphone at volume levels that could easily fill an office or medium sized room.
In terms of its accessory bundle, there’s nothing to write home about, but Google does include the essentials with the Pixel 4a 5G. Along with the phone, you’ll find a basic lit pack, charge / sync cable, a USB-A to USB-C adapter, and a fast charger.
Now, let’s see what the cameras can do...