Google Pixel 4a review: an atypical alternative, but with quality to sell

google pixel cover

After several delays in the initial schedule, here it is Google has launched its new Pixel 4a, a device sui generis, as in clear contrast with all current smartphones. Precisely for this reason, even before receiving the product, we were certain that we were facing an atypical challenge, full of expectations and anxieties. How did it turn out? Google Pixel 4a will have convinced us in its uniqueness? Find out in our full review.

Google Pixel 4a review

Unboxing

The packaging of Google Pixel 4a it is - in its own way - explanatory: just think that the sales box, on the whole, is smaller than most of the current smartphones on the market. Inside we find:

  • Google Pixel 4a;
  • 18W wall power supply;
  • USB Type-C / USB Type-C cable;
  • OTG adapter;
  • SIM pin.

Design and construction quality

I came from a Realme and the transition to this Pixel 4a it was a good shot, a sort of baroque pomp as opposed to minimal chic. Google, with his device, in fact, he abandons all frills offering the user a clean user experience from every point of view. We immediately notice the presence - so dear to the company - of an excellent plastic that covers the device in a single solution, interrupted by the volume rocker and the power button green mint. It might seem a paradox, but given the dimensions of 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm (for 143 grams), Pixel 4a manages to be solid and light at the same time, a plus (which we will also see later) not to be underestimated.

Dimensions that inevitably lead to a small full screen display from 5.81 ″ OLED protected (only) by Gorilla Glass 3. In short, standards maintained only by Apple in this 2020, with the difference that the iPhone SE presented a few months ago, still retains an "annoying" ratio in 16: 9.

While I particularly appreciated the "monolithic" use of plastic, as well as the feedback returned, I find myself forced to reject the inexplicable choice of fingerprint ID on the back, rather than below the display. On the contrary, however, I did not find the choice of the square room at all invasive, although I would have clearly preferred a less decisive solution to showcase the single 12MP lens.

Google Pixel 4a it is therefore one of the very rare devices capable of being used by one hand, without the slightest effort. In daily use you will therefore be led to use the smartphone with one hand, in a completely natural way, once again an advantage to be emphasized for those who use purely mobile devices smartphone. In my opinion, using this smartphone was like going back a few years, a user experience that I would define positive all in all, finding more advantages than limits from the small size of the device.

Display

The panel from 5.81 ″ OLED Full HD + it is one of the distinctive elements of this Google Pixel 4a. Despite its small size, in fact, the presence of the punch hole at the top left it is able to guarantee uninterrupted use of the contents.

Net of this, the unit chosen by Google does not represent the top in terms of quality; by tilting the device we will in fact have a slight tendency to green in light shades and moreover, even in optimal situations, the display does not guarantee the brightness of the best OLEDs on the market. At the same time, Google Pixel 4a does not offer users what has become a real catchphrase: the a 90Hz. This absence will be felt especially for users who come - in fact - from smartphones that have this standard, contributing to a more "soft" user experience.

Despite the absence of 90Hz and some lack of quality, I don't feel like rejecting the Pixel 4a display which - in my opinion - has a function only ancillary to the whole context. In a nutshell, if you decide to buy the Pixel, you certainly will not do it for the continued use of multimedia content, but you will rather appreciate a good performance in direct sunlight and the "goodies" offered by the software to protect the sight, such as the presence adaptive "night light".

Camera

In a period where the focus on photographic quality is maximum and companies compete with each other to the sound of mega-pixels and objectives (at least in numerical terms), Google Pixel 4a it comes with a single bedroom 12.2 mega-pixels with focal opening f/ 1.7: a choice that will make you "angry" all its future owners.

Perhaps because the photos are not up to par with their predecessors? Absolutely not, indeed we can say the opposite. Pixel 4a, in fact, with its unique camera it manages to give much more expensive smartphones a hard time and with better hardware (on paper). In short, a much higher yield than the price range in which it is placed, and this will arouse "anger". Think if Google had decided to add a wide-angle sensor to the device, or another one dedicated to depth of field.

Going into the merits, Google's smartphone offers shots always balanced, in every situation, balance is the key word and the fulcrum of Big G's photographic experience. Both night shots and those with a strong chromatic contrast, find an optimal yield thanks to the automatic work of HDR.

Even the night mode turns out to be very efficient, with a help given by the weight of the smartphone. As you know by now, to take shots using the night mode you need to hold the smartphone still for several seconds. In fact, the weight and small dimensions of the Pixel positively contribute to the stability of the photos taken at night.

While the shots with the main camera highlight how Google's experience in the sector is a real added value, I don't feel like giving an online opinion for the selfie cam. The goal from 8 mega-pixels and opening f/2.0 returns clean shots, but without particularly excelling. The photographic software, then, appears to be in line with the user experience and therefore it is very intuitive and lacking in details. Among the additional settings for the shots we find the panoramic mode, spherical photo, slow motion e time lapse.

At the beginning we talked about expectations and anxieties. This camera, for Google Pixel 4A, is undoubtedly a challenge won (again) and that fully met our expectations.

Hardware and Performance

pixel-4a

Realme X2 e Xiaomi Mi Note 10 do they tell you something? They are among the most popular mid-range smartphones of the last period and they share with Google Pixel 4A the SoC Snapdragon 730G, 8 nm Octa-Core solution up to 2.2 GHz, accompanied by the Adreno 618, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage.

It goes without saying that the performance of the new Pixel aligns with the aforementioned devices, thus not placing the user any limits in the use of multitasking, with satisfactorily fast loading times and no jamming of any kind. Even with more intense use and accessing games that require more effort, the smartphone found no difficulty.

Precisely in the gaming field, a rapidly growing sector, Google Pixel 4A, however, finds limits, which I would define physical. Given the compact dimensions, in fact, the device does not offer an optimal support for on-screen controls. A trivial example? Playing at Brawl Stars (title that runs perfectly on the smartphone) on more than one occasion I happened to return to the home in game due to the "tight spaces". In short, it may be an unnecessary clarification, but if anything you were thinking of buying the 4A to get into it with mobile gaming, I strongly advise you to desist.

Software

Android 11 stock ed updates guaranteed for 3 years. Already by themselves, these assumptions could convince anyone tech addicted, but we can assure you that longevity is not the only one plus offered by pure Google software.

You will therefore find yourself facing an immersive experience, but at the same time clean, with some precautions implemented over time that will facilitate you in everyday life. We find - clearly - many settings dedicated to digital well-being, such as the filter to protect the eyesight and others feature that we have learned to love over time.

Among the nicest and most noteworthy, we find a particular management of However, which (if you wish) will become a sort of graphic list of the latest apps used, along the lines of what happens for the iPad, so to speak. At the same time I found the evolution of the prolonged swipe up pleasant, which will allow you to access a screen dedicated to screenshot and the "select" function through which you can analyze each portion of the screen, and then search the browser for each element that characterizes it. Very useful for searching the web for images.

We find ourselves once again to reaffirm the potential of the device made by Google which ensures a clean, always performing and super updated software; really a plus which could tip the scales in favor.

Autonomy

pixel battery performance 4a

Returning to the theme of anxieties and expectations, certainly that of autonomy was one of the tests that I awaited with the most fear. I must say - however - that Google Pixel 4A with his battery from 3140 mAh it surprised me positively. With intensive use during the day, in fact, it managed to take me to the evening (late) with about 6 hours of display on.

By reducing the load of use, the substance did not change; Pixel 4A will take you to the end of the day without any problems, even with multiple active push notifications. To be clear, during use I "attached" to the device 7 different email addresses, WhatsApp accounts and Telegram notifications, with Bluetooth constantly on and pairing with TWS earphones and smartwatches. With the'18W power supply supplied, you can recharge the device from 0 to 100% in just over 1 20 hours and minutes. To potentially increase the autonomy of the device, we then find the feature "Energy saving" that will inhibit most of the apps in the background, to bring the drain battery to almost 0 during periods of inactivity. An interesting function that, however, I have never felt the need to exploit.

A battery test that was therefore overall positive against all my expectations, although I would have preferred a faster charging standard (27W?), To be even less tied to charging times.

Audio and connectivity

Google Pixel 4A presents a fairly rich connectivity sector. We find the presence - now taken for granted - of NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD, Wi-Fi Dual Band and sensors GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS). At the same time we have a USB 3.1 input and the presence of the 3.5 mm jack for wired headphones (not in the package). On the other hand, there is no support for 5G which, however, is "compensated" by the possibility of inserting the eSIM.

The little Pixel represents a piacevole sorpresa also in relation to the audio compartment, with a stereo speaker that manages to offer a good experience, with an audio that reaches very high volumes, without ever dirtying the sound, ensuring that it remains clear and enjoyable.

Google Pixel 4a - Price and conclusions

We are faced with a highly polarized smartphone. During the review on several occasions I have taken up the concept, which I repeat. You may hate or love this Pixel, but you will certainly not remain impassive. If you are looking for a smartphone that supports you in gaming, in the use of video content such as playing TV series and the like, then Google Pixel 4A it's not for you.

On the contrary, if your focus is photography and you are looking for a versatile and handy smartphone, you will find an excellent companion in this device, able to offer - in some respects - a much higher quality than the price at which it is sold. Google Pixel 4A is in fact currently in preorder on the official shop of Google a 389€.

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