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Google Pixel 4a – a back to basics 4G phone with lots of features
Name: Google Pixel 4a Price (RRP): $599 Manufacturer: Google
Three years of Android OS and security updatesGood but not great OLED screen3.5mm audio jack and budsBetter than average computational camera
No microSD slot (not a major issue)No IP ratingBattery life is adequate but average
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
4.6Overall Score
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Google Pixel 4a – a back to basics 4G phone with lots of features
4.6Overall Score
Name: Google Pixel 4a
Price (RRP): $599
Manufacturer: Google

The Google Pixel 4a is a half-yearly ‘value’ update following on from the now sold out Pixel 4 and 4XL.

 It also portends the release of a Pixel 4a 5G version and the new Pixel 5 in the coming months.

Now when I say ‘value’ version, it is not a stripped-to-the-bone Pixel 4. It is specified to meet the $599 price point and uses most of the Pixel design philosophy and knowhow. The result is yet another wonderful example of what pure Google Android can be.

So, don’t think you are missing anything buying the Google Pixel 4a – you are not! This review is after four very pleasurable weeks of use.

Should you wait for Google Pixel 4a 5G or 5 5G?

Not if all you want is 4G. Given our Telcos abysmal coverage and the cost penalty of 5G handsets the answer is no. Perhaps by 2023 when 5G costs no more than 4G!

The Google Pixel 4a 5G uses the Qualcomm SD765G Soc and a larger 6.2” display. The Google Pixel 5 will use the same processor (it normally would use the SD8XX series) and a larger 90Hz screen. There is no word on a Google Pixel 5XL.

Australian review – Google Pixel 4a 6/128GB eSIM and Nano-sim Modem G205N

  • Australian website here
  • Price: $599
  • From: JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, and Google store. Don’t buy from the grey market as the Australian model eSIM is registered on the Australian database.
  • Elevator Pitch: Google Pixel goodness wrapped in a snack sizes bite
  • Warranty: 2 years ACL
  • Country of manufacture: Vietnam
  • Google is part of Alphabet Inc – an American multi-national BIG TECH company. You can read more on Google as part of our ‘Can you Trust?’ series.
Google Pixel 4a

Rather than a very long and involved review, we will publish the test results and use FAIL, PASS or EXCEED against test parameters. To be clear PASS is all we expect from any device for the price.

 Google Pixel 4a base spec – EXCEED

  • 5.81” 1080p OLED
  • Qualcomm SD730 (same as Samsung A71 and about 20 other mid-range phones)
  • 6/128GB – no microSD but USB-C 3.1. Gen 1 OTG
  • 3140mAh battery and 18W charger
  • 12MP rear and 8MP selfie
  • Wi-Fi 5, BT 5, NFC

You may be a little concerned that this only has a single rear camera and no memory expansion. It is part of Google’s design, and neither affects its rankings.

Screen – PASS+

Display5.81” 2340×1080, 443ppi, 19.5:9 OLED
Left side O-hole selfie 60Hz panel (Samsung supplied)
ColoursBrightness: Max 650 nits on auto-adaptive but typically 400/500nits
Contrast: Infinity ∞:1
Adaptive (95% DCI-P3), Natural (105% sRGB) and Boosted (over saturated sRGB)
Delta E between 2-3 (below 4 is good)
HDR
16 million colours
OtherWidevine L1 HDCP 2.3 for YouTube HD streaming
Daylight readability: Despite very high brightness levels, its reflective Gorilla Glass 3 front makes it less readable.
AOD display
Good haptic feedback

Screen summary: At $599, it is terrific, but that does not compensate for the lower daylight readability. In part, that has to do with the default Eclipse Come Alive wallpaper, and you can get better readability by changing it to a lighter wallpaper.

Google Pixel 4a daylight
All on maximum brightness – Google Pixel 4a (L) beside (L-R) Samsung Note20/Ultra, TCL 10 Pro and Mintt A5/X5/Y5
Google Pixel 4a bright
Same phones inside on maximum brightness

Nor the perception that a 5.8” screen is so small after the 6.5” plus models of today. I found the fonts and icon sizes a little small, but at least you can enlarge these.

And we experienced some random auto-brightness fluctuations that really need a firmware fix.

Processor – PASS+

ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 730G 8nm  
2×2.2GHz and 6×1.8GHz
Titan M Security Module
Geekbench 5 single/multi-core: 552/1651 (similar to 2018 SD845)
GPUAdreno 618 
Decodes HEVC, VP9, AVC
HRD support (downmixes HDR10/+ but does not upscale SDR to HDR)
Supports Qualcomm Elite Gaming features, but it won’t achieve the frame rates that pro gamers expect.
GeekBench 5 Compute scale (Vulcan) 1008
Memory and Storage6 GB LPDDR4x
128 GB UFS 2.1 (105GB free)
No micro-SD
It has USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) and OTG support for up to 2TB external drives. It should also support ALT DP video

The SD730 is quite a good SoC with reasonable levels of AI – so much so that Google did not need to include a separate chip. It has responsive performance, although it can chug when post-processing photos.

In the 15-minute CPU Throttling test, it starts at 150,454GIPS and averages 135,107 – a 15% throttle. That shows good thermal design.

The lack of a microSD is really not an issue with high capacity OTG Flash drives and up to 2TB external SSD. The 5Gbps transfer rate means it could back up 128GB in under 4 minutes.

COMMS – PASS+

Wi-FiWi-Fi 5 AC dual-band, 2×2 MIMO 
Signal Strength -31dDm/866Mbps at 2m from ASUS AX1000 router (good)
Bluetooth5.0 + LE, A2DP (HD codecs: AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, AAC)
NFCYes, PayWave and mag reader
ChromecastYes
GPSSingle-band GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou accurate to within 10 metres for turn-by-turn navigation
SensorsProximity/Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer/Gyrometer
Magnetometer eCompass
Back-mounted fingerprint sensor (100% pass in 10 tests) Barometer
Android Sensor Hub

It has a good set of Comms and sensors – not usually all found at this price