Google Pixel 4a 5G Review: If I Could, I'd Take Away the "5G" Part

Evaluation:
9/10
?

1 – Absolute hot garbage
2 – Sorta warm garbage
3 – Strongly imperfect design
4 – A few advantages, many disadvantages
5 – Acceptably imperfect
6 – Good enough to buy on sale
7 – Excellent, but not the best in its class
8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
9 – shut up and take my money
10 – Absolute Conception Nirvana

Price: $ 500

Pixel 4a 5G on brick background Justin duino

Three months ago I tested the Pixel 4a, and gave it a perfect score. I think it’s great for a budget Android phone today. The Pixel 4a 5G is that, just bigger and with 5G. Does that make him perfect too? Not enough. It’s still a fantastic phone, I just wish Google had made different choices.

This is what we like

Perfect screen size
Fantastic Android software
Long battery life
Unbeatable cameras

And what we don’t do

5G is of questionable utility
No water resistance
No wireless charging

For $ 150 above the 4a, the 5G 4a offers a larger, more mainstream screen size, an additional wide-angle camera sensor (also seen on the Pixel 5), and that very ballyhoo 5G connection (ditto). There are some minor changes, but this is the crux of the matter. And don’t get me wrong, these changes are enough to justify the 4a 5G’s price tag: it’s such a good $ 500 phone that you’re going to find now, and maybe for a long time to come.

But I wonder if it’s wise to prioritize this 5G connection when most people (or at least most people I’ve spoken to) don’t seem to want or need it. If Google had replaced 5G and a second rear camera with the Pixel 5’s other differences, water resistance and wireless charging, I wouldn’t have been stingy with that last point.

Pixel 4a 5G rear camera module. Justin duino

That said, the Pixel 4a 5G is a great phone. If you want a big screen version of the 4a, or if you can really use that 5G radio, it’s worth every penny of the upgrade.

Equipment

The hardware of the Pixel 4a 5G is almost identical to that of the 4a, with a few minor but crucial differences. Here’s the full breakdown, if you need it, and in this case, I list the different values ​​of 4a in bold.

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6 GB
Storage: 128 GB (without microSD)
Display: 6.2 inch Front camera 2340 × 1080 AMOLED, perforated
Cameras: 12.2 MP main camera, 12.2 MP wide-angle camera, 8MP front camera
Ports and Charging: USB-C
Headphone jack: Yes
Drums: 3885 mAh
Fingerprint sensor: rear
Connectivity: Wi-Fi a / b / g / b / ac, 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz; MIMO; Bluetooth 5.1; NFC; AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile support
5G bands: n1, 2, 5, 12, 25, 28, 41, 66, 71, 78 *
Water resistance: none
Colors: black
Dimensions: 153.9mm x 74mm x 8.2mm, 168 grams
Price: $ 500

*Note: the unlocked version of the Pixel 4a 5G works on Verizon, but only the version sold by Verizon has access to its ultra-wideband mmWave service (integrated into the unlocked Pixel 5). Verizon’s custom version of the Pixel 4a 5G is 0.2mm thicker, three grams heavier, and $ 100 more expensive. We’re looking at the standard unlocked model.

In terms of everyday usability, the screen size is the big deal here. All of Google’s 2020 phones have an excellent and efficient body design, really maximizing both screen space and user access to it. But as a completely subjective opinion, I think the 4a 5G has about the perfect size screen, at least for my extremely average male hands. If you are considering an upgrade from the Pixel 3a XL or similar, this will be fine for you.

Pixel 4a 5G from below. Justin duino

Other differences in the hardware were negligible, aside from the obvious 5G connection and the additional camera. While the 4a 5G’s Snapdragon 765G processor is technically a hair faster than the 4a’s Snapdragon 730G, I couldn’t spot a difference in performance, especially since the screen uses the same 60Hz refresh rate.

The battery is bigger – understandably, since there’s more room in the body – but the screen and 5G radio seem to balance that out, giving it the same great run time. I had 1.5-2 days for my own use, with plenty of Wi-Fi and screen time. I like that the two speakers (one doubles as the earpiece) are good and loud, if not exactly concert quality. It is convenient for watching videos while cooking.

From left to right: Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 4a. From left to right: Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 4a. Michael crider

The only sour note on the Pixel 4a, a display that at times hasn’t adjusted its brightness properly, doesn’t seem to have persisted here. That, or Google fixed the issue with a firmware update before I even got my hands on the device. I would also like to point out that the screen now uses Gorilla Glass 3. This is not the newest or most durable, but a noticeable improvement over the cheaper Dragontail 3a series tempered glass, which might see scratches. due to normal use.

The 2020 pixels material design is, more than anything, a repudiation of Google’s own choices in previous generations. I suspect the Pixel 3a has sold far more by volume than any of the previous Pixels, and Google has taken the ‘less is more’ approach to the public to heart. Like the cheapest and most expensive phones in this year’s offering, it replaces the face unlock with a more conventional rear fingerprint reader, removes the Soli ‘radar scan’ and legacy ‘press’ button. ‘old HTC DNA to activate Google Assistant and give users a no-frills black plastic body.

Pixel 4a 5G from the rearJustin duino

If you’re coming from any of the previous Pixel phones, you’ll find the hardware familiar, though it obviously lacks the speed and smoothness of last year’s Pixel 4. But I think the extra screen-to-body ratio, with just one front camera and no external sensor, makes up for that. The Pixel 4a 5G won’t turn heads, even with the standard Pixel color touch on the power button (light blue here, versus orange on the 4a). I would have liked an option for something a little more expressive, like the “Sorta Sage” color for the Pixel 5.

But even without turning heads, the 4a 5G hardware is notable for … well, for not being so remarkable. The physical aspects of the phone somehow disappear when you use it, allowing you to focus on whatever you do. It’s the phone equivalent of a comfortable pair of jeans. And a big part of that is due to Google’s focus on software.

Software

It’s Android. Whadya wants, that’s basically the entire point of the Pixel line!

Alright, I guess I’ll do my job. Software has always been the strong point of the Pixel line, and it remains that way here. You won’t find any of the superfluous googaws that Samsung is aggressively incorporating into even its cheapest devices, any of the revamped or replaced apps or dubiously necessary interface changes that almost every Android phone maker seems to insist on.

Activating Google Now for the Pixel 4a 5GJustin duino

I think it’s fair to say that OnePlus software is superior to Google’s, if only because it incorporates some of the more popular tweaks that users make on their own. But this comes at the expense of Google’s fast, straightforward software and security updates. Fair trade, especially when Pixels remain the friendliest and most adjustable phones on the market.

The Pixel 4a 5G’s extra two gigabytes of RAM over the Pixel 3a series is a quiet but highly visible upgrade, giving just enough wiggle room for Android to shine. And most importantly, it doesn’t feel stifled compared to the Pixel 5, which gets two more gigs on top of that. This is a good indication that you won’t miss out on anything vital in the software experience by going for a cheaper Pixel.

Pixel 4a 5G notification Justin duino

The phone remains fast and smooth, if not blazing like the ones in the Snapdragon 800 series. But unless you’re constantly trying to render Pixar movies to your phone’s processor, you won’t miss it every day. I never had to sit there and wait a second or two like I did with the Pixel 3a … or in fact, sometimes with the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition.

The Pixel 4a has the best Android software of any budget phone. The Pixel 4a 5G too, with $ 150 in extra hardware. Here.

Camera

The Pixel 4a 5G’s dual-sensor camera module is the same as the Pixel 4, but it replaces a zoom lens with a wide-angle lens. This turned out to be a divisive choice among Pixel fans, but having never tried the Pixel 4’s secondary sensor, I can’t judge the difference. As someone who looks for a mirrorless camera and its interchangeable lenses every time I do ‘real’ photography, and hasn’t been impressed with phone zooms so far, I can’t say that I am upset.

Pixel 4a 5G camera photos: basketball hoop Pixel 4a 5G camera photos: basketball hoop

Above: standard or wide angle sensor.

You’ve heard it before: The Pixel’s camera technology is some of the best in the business, as good or better than Apple and Samsung. Colors are vivid and precise in almost any light, and the low-light performance of the cameras (bolstered by a lot of complicated processing technologies) is downright stunning. Google’s signature and photographic crown remain intact.

All of the 2020 pixels suffer from a pretty dramatic drop in time to process images compared to last year’s flagships, which makes sense. I didn’t find this a hindrance to shooting, and it’s less of a problem with the more budget 4a and 4a 5G, but it’s something to know if you’re coming from the Pixel 4 or 4 XL in 2019. .

Pixel 4a 5G camera photos: horse and fence

The sensors themselves are still only 12 megapixels, which seems a bit low when even budget phones have 30 or more. But the results speak for themselves. If you really need a photo with enough resolution to cover a billboard, you need a full-size camera to match it.

Pixel 4a 5G Camera Photos: Grid Pixel 4a 5G camera photos: bleachers Pixel 4a 5G Camera Photos: Sales Trailer

The front camera is, again, the same one that other pixels have seen for years. That’s pretty good, although you might miss the wide-angle prowess of some phones with multiple selfie sensors if you take them regularly. But that’s not an entirely fair comparison, as you won’t see multiple front sensors on other phones in this price range.

Value

Day to day using the Pixel 4a 5G took me back to the last time I really liked a phone, the Nexus 6. Only it’s better – not just because of six generations of silicon advancements, but because Google now knows more about how to make a phone look good to use. Like the 4a and 5, the 4a 5G offers incredible savings in features, design and price.

Justin duino

And like I said before, there is nothing wrong with the phone … just one thing I would change. And that’s what is so central that they put it in the name: 5G radio. On Google Fi (which overlays the T-Mobile network), I have the same 5G performance in my neighborhood that I’ve seen on the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S20 FE. 70-100 megabits down, and about the same upward. That’s great… but not something I’ve ever really felt the need for on my phone.

That’s not what I would say for some of the other features you get when upgrading to the Pixel 5. The $ 700 phone gets everything the 4a 5G does, with a slightly smaller screen, 90Hz, resistance to water and wireless charging. It was the last two that led me to buy a Pixel 5 and make it my “daily driver” phone. These were also the strengths of the Nexus 6 and I haven’t bought a phone without them since.

Almost perfect

If I could have the Pixel 4a 5G, minus 5G, and more water resistance and (less importantly) wireless charging, I would have been happy to shell out the asking price of $ 500. In this hypothetical purchase, I don’t think I would have ever envied the more expensive phone its super-fast mobile coverage.

I suspect that the focus on 5G, to the exclusion of other features, is more of a concession to carriers than a response to actual consumer demand. Consider that the iPhone SE has these two additional features that I’m looking for, despite being $ 100 cheaper … and lacking in 5G.

Pixel 4a 5G from the rear Justin duino

That, and that alone, is the only bad thing about 4a 5G. He is afraid of perfection not because of everything he does wrong, but for the things he could have done better within his budget. It’s still a great phone, and easily the one I would recommend if you want one in this price range.

This is what we like

Perfect screen size
Fantastic Android software
Long battery life
Unbeatable cameras

And what we don’t do

5G is of questionable utility
No water resistance
No wireless charging

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