Google Pixel 4a 5G Review: Big Screen, Great Camera And Value

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Pixel 4a 5G: Android 11 Software And The Verdict

One of the allures of the Google Pixel series of devices is its clean OS. The Google Pixel 4a 5G (and Pixel 5) run Android 11 right out of the box, with no funky skins or stylized customization to speak of – it’s just Android as Google intended. And the devices will receive OS and security updates for three full years, directly from Google.

The default home screen on the Pixel 4a 5G is pictured here along with a screenshot of the app tray, with only a few of our benchmarks installed. Thankfully, the OS is clean and loaded only with key Google applications out of the box. And with the unlocked, direct-from-Google devices, there’s no pre-installed carrier-related bloatware to speak of at all.

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Google News feed is available if you swipe right from the home screen, and the usual set of gestures for navigation introduced a few generations back persist as well. Tap the very bottom of the screen and you’ll be presented with the app switcher. Swipe up, and a group of shortcuts that dynamically changes based on usage appear, that shows the apps you’re most likely to run. Swipe up again and you’ll get the full app tray. Volume adjustments now pop out from the side, near the volume rocker, and the soft buttons at the bottom will also adapt based on the app that’s running or where you are in the OS.

For the enterprise, multiple users can now share a single device, work-related apps can have their own dedicated tabs, and IT managers also have the ability to pause or postpone OTA updates. OTA updates are another one of the main draws of Pixel devices, however, since they’re the first to get fresh versions of Android as they become available.

Google Pixel 4a 5G Review Summary

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The Google Pixel 4a 5G is not a perfect device, but the concessions Google makes to achieve the $499 price point appear to be the right ones. Ask the average smartphone buyer what they look for in a device at any given form factor and you’ll likely hear three things: a quality screen, a good camera and excellent battery life. The Google Pixel 4a 5G’s screen, while unremarkable in terms of resolution or refresh rate, still looks quite good and battery life on the device is top notch. The Pixel 4a 5G’s cameras may not be class-leading in terms of their specifications, but in practice they are among the best in our opinion. In most situations, the Google Pixel series of devices are likely to deliver some of the best real-world images you’ll see from a smartphone this generation.

Other benefits of the Google Pixel 4a 5G (and other Pixel devices for that matter) include access to the latest versions of Android before every other smartphone, fingerprint sensors you can actually rely on, solid build quality and a similar design language that persists across a few generations. If you’ve owned any Pixel devices from the last few years, the Pixel 4a 5G will feel right at home.

For 500 bucks, the Pixel 4a 5G is a good value in the 5G-enabled smartphone market, but its overall performance in the benchmarks puts it behind some previous-gen flagships that are now available for similar price points. Real-world performance, however, is good and the user experience is top-notch, especially if you're a fan of pure Android. You will likely have to give up 5G capabilities and may end up with a camera and battery life that's not quite as good if you look to some previous flagships in this price range, but devices like the OnePlus 7T are available for barely over $400 now and the more powerful Samsung Galaxy S10 is only slightly pricier. That said, we believe anyone looking for quality device that ticks all of the right boxes at an affordable price, will dig the Pixel 4a 5G and we can recommend it without hesitation.

  • Great Battery Life
  • Clean Android OS
  • Excellent Camera Quality
  • Reliable Fingerprint Sensor
  • Good Display
  • Solid Build
  • Good Speaker Quality / Output
  • Headphone Jack!
  • Trails In The Benchmarks
  • Only 60Hz Display
  • Non-Expandable Storage
  • No Wireless Charging
  • No Dust / Water Resistance

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