Google Pixel 4a – a bit more than a refresh

Google Pixel 4a

As Google Pixel devotees know, Google introduces a ‘full’ version later in the year and a mid-year ‘a’ version. So now we have the Google Pixel 4, 4XL and 4a – there will be no 4a/XL but a 4a 5G and 5, 5G coming soon.

I want to take a step back to the philosophy behind the Pixel 4a because, in no way wishing to be harsh, it really should not exist in the cut-throat smartphone world. I mean if mega-electronics giants like Sony can’t make smartphones work who can?

The Pixel 4a is everything that Google believes a ‘reference’ Android smartphone should be. It is their baby that fortunately, not only a mother could love. In its way, it is quite an amazing device.

Google claims to be serious about its Pixel range (and indeed all Google hardware) yet seems to be content with fairly narrow distribution channels. It is kind of if you want a Pixel you will find it.

We believe that the Pixel is important for ‘mind-share’ – you have Apple iPhone (iOS) and Google Pixel (Android). Pixel reinforces Google’s street cred as a tech leader. And that is why so many reviews, ours included, refer to Google Pixel. It is the reference device that everyone tries to beat.

Google Pixel 4a – the helpful Google phone at half the price

Half the price does not mean half the amenity – it does everything the 4/XL does. It packages up a holistic set of components to deliver a Pixel-worthy experience.

Google Pixel 4a

In fact, Google does not really care about tech specs so much as the experience so let’s get the boring stuff out of the way

CategoryPixel 4a Model G025N 
PriceFrom $599 for 6/128GB model from Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Vodafone, Harvey Norman and Officeworks
WebsiteGoogle AU store here – shipping 10 September
Display5.81” 2340×1080, 443ppi, 19.5:9 OLED  Contrast: 100,000:1 Brightness: not given (assume 400 nits+)  HDR and 16 million colours
Dimension​144 x 69.4 x 8.2 (mm) x 143 g  
Battery3140 mAh with 5V/3A and 9V/2A (18W) USB-PD 2.0 compatible
USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (should mean ALT DP video)
Memory and Storage6 GB LPDDR4x 128 GB UFS 2.1
No micro-SD
ProcessorsQualcomm Snapdragon 730G 8nm  
2×2.2GHz and 6×1.8GHz Adreno 618  Titan M Security Module

Google Pixel 4a continued

Rear Camera12.2 MP, f/1.7, 1.4μm, 77° FOV, dual pixel phase detection (PDAF) OIS and EIS, LED flash
Sony IMX363
Max 1080p@30fps
Front Camera8 MP, f/2.0, 1.12μm, 84° FOV, Fixed focus
Max 1080p@30fps
SensorsProximity/Ambient light sensor/Accelerometer/Gyrometer /Magnetometer  Pixel Imprint – back-mounted fingerprint sensor for fast unlocking  Barometer  Android Sensor Hub
SIMsSingle Nano SIM eSIM​
X15 modem
LTE: Bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/32/38/39/40/41/66/71
Media & Audio3.5mm Stereo speakers Two microphones with noise suppression
Wireless and LocationWi-Fi 5 AC dual-band, 2×2 MIMO  Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, A2DP (HD codecs: AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, AAC)
 NFC  Google Cast  GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou  
InboxAU – Just Black 18W USB-C power adapter  1 m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0)  Quick Switch Adapter  3.5 mm earbuds
Security and OS UpdatesThe latest Android 10 + Google Assistant with Lens​ Minimum 3 years of OS and security updates​
BuildPolycarbonate unibody Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass
No IP rating 2-year warranty

What does that tell us?

It is a mid-range processor same as found on vivo X50, realme X2, OPPO K5 and Motorola One Fusion+. It is not a powerhouse nor a serious gamer’s device. Still, it has enough power to supply the AI needed for Google’s computational photography – to get the best from a single lens.

The main issue here is that the competition all sit under $500 and have multiple cameras, microSD slots and more.

How is it different to the Pixel 4?

The Pixel 4 has a Qualcomm SD855 processor, IP67, 90Hz screen and an alloy frame but otherwise, it is pretty much the same size – I would go for the 4a at half the price! You can compare all three here.

We have not seen it yet – review to come.

Google tells us there are several key points

  • Its s smaller, pocketable, fully functioned Android phone
  • It does everything you expect of Android including Google Assistant and Lens
  • The rear camera handles night, astrophotography, Live HDR+, bokeh and more
  • It’s a 24-hour battery courtesy of adaptive battery management and has 18W charge
  • Protected by Titan M security chip and for an extra layer of peace of mind Google’s Personal Safety app
  • Live caption/transcription for phone calls
  • YouTube Premium trial for three months, Google Play Pass for three months and unlimited photo and video storage in high quality with Google Photos
  • A range of compatible Pixel 4a accessories from Google or Made for Google brands

GadgetGuy’s take – Google Pixel 4a is what Google wants every Android experience to be

You are only paying a small premium for Google’s quality./ That is returned in spades by the three years of OS and security updates.

We also know a Pixel 4a 5G is coming (SD765G SoC) starting at $799 and the Pixel 5, 5G (all the rumours here). Google hints it has a different approach to 5G.