5 December 2020

REVIEW: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel perfect

Following closely on the heels of the Pixel 4a release, and timed to coincide with the the Pixel 5, Google have neatly slotted in another handset option for die-hard Android fans. Boasting similar, and also very different, specs to the others, the Pixel 4a 5G is here to get you connected to the future. Let's take a look, shall we?

Both the Pixel 4a and 5 were somewhat slated on release for looking... well, dull. While it's true that nothing spectacular about the phones leaps out at you from a design perspective, especially in a year of folding screens, the 4a 5G follows suit, being a slick, dark and unassuming slab of glass. We don't mind that at all, considering that in the hand it feels solid, rugged, and thin and just 8.2mm thick.

The front boasts a 6.2 inch screen with a glorious display, while on the inside we're looking at 6GB of RAM, a 3800 mAh battery, 128GB of storage, and a Snapdragon 756G powering it all. You'll be pleased to hear that Google have continued to invest in the optics, slapping in a 12MP main camera, a 16MP ultra-wide shooter, and also a crystal-clear 8MP selfie cam.

So, if we're being honest, those specs don't immediately jump out as massively impressive, either. But, as we've found this with other Google-made tech, it's all about the quality of what goes in there. For example, the 12MP main camera might sound uninteresting when other brands are boasting 40+ MP (like these cheeky numbers from TCL), but the quality of the images the Pixel 4a 5G produce are definitely on a par, if not better.

It's all about the bundled AI that Google includes with their phones. As you know, Google knows a thing or two about AI ("Hey Google, is that true?") so the cameras benefit from an excellent interface and processing like low-light, HDR+, artificial lighting, and probably the best portrait mode of any phone camera we've ever tested. Couple that with quick and effective editing and storage with Google Photos, and this becomes an exceptionally powerful photography tool.

However, the main purpose for the existence of the Google Pixel 4a 5G is the 5G. Unlike its predecessor, this baby can connect to available 5G networks and benefit from those ultra-quick download/upload speeds. For most people, this might be an investment in the future, as 5G is yet to cover the majority of the UK. But it will soon, and if you're locked into a phone contract for two years with a device that can't access it, you'll be missing out. 

So, the Google Pixel 4a 5G makes a great future-proof phone with enough staying power elsewhere to keep you going for a couple of years. That battery will (while it's fresh, mind) last you almost two full days of fairly regular use. Also, as this is 'pure Android', without any brand overlays or tweaks, it offers probably the smoothest way to interact with the UI. Gone are the home and back buttons that float on the screen of most other Android phones, replaced by swipes and gestures which will take a week or so to get used to. Once you do, however, it's very hard to go back to other ways of navigating. Trust us - we had to send our review unit back to Google and spent the next couple of days 're-learning' Android.

It's no bold statement, but Google really do make excellent native products, and the Pixel 4a 5G is no exception. Fast, versatile, ready for the 5G future, and possessing a camera that will keep your Insta game strong, we heartily recommend you at least take a look for yourself. You'll thank us later.


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