Pixel 4a gives Google fans the perfect mid-range smartphone
After some delay, the Google Pixel 4a is official, and it's exactly what you would expect the successor to the Pixel 3a to be – simple, affordable, and packed with Google smarts. It's the price that perhaps impresses the most: just US$349.
That's lower than the OnePlus Nord and the iPhone SE 2020 and you still get plenty of phone in return for your money. There's a mid-range Snapdragon 730G running everything, together with a generous 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage (there's no memory card slot though, so you can't expand it).
The Pixel 4a is a relatively small phone, and there's no XL model this time around. The OLED display measures 5.81 inches corner to corner, with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels and a small punch hole notch for the 8-MP selfie camera.
Speaking of cameras, there's just a single-lens 12.2-MP camera on the rear, but thanks to Google's image processing no-how it promises to be one of the standout features of the phone. As well as taking photos in low light with Night Sight, the phone can also capture the stars, just like the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.
The phone comes with a fingerprint sensor on the back, a USB-C charging and data port, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. What you won't find on the Pixel 4a is 5G connectivity, or any kind of serious waterproofing, or support for wireless charging.
As with Pixels past, the clean and stock version of Android, and speedy access to future OS updates are going to be two of the main draws here. Google Assistant is of course front and center, and you get a few more Pixel exclusives too – the real-time voice transcription app Recorder, for example, and the Now Playing widget that automatically identifies songs playing in the background.
Android 10 is on board but the Pixel 4a will be one of the first in line to get the Android 11 update when it rolls out later this year. Google is also talking up apps like Google Photos and Google One cloud storage in relation to the Pixel 4a, but of course these aren't exclusive to the Pixel line.
The Pixel 4a offers a speed and specs boost over the Pixel 3a, while not quite matching the flagship components and dual-lens camera (with telephoto zoom) of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. It's instantly one of the most appealing Android mid-rangers, especially for Google fans, but it won't be long before the Pixel 5 arrives to give buyers yet another choice.
As for its most direct rivals, the Pixel 4a isn't quite as polished or as fast as phones such as the OnePlus Nord and the iPhone SE 2020, but it does cost a little less. If you're thinking of investing, weigh up all the other excellent phones at this price point, from the likes of Nokia, Motorola, Xiaomi and others – there are plenty of options to pick from.
Pre-orders for the Pixel 4a are open now direct from the Google Store, with shipping and retail availability scheduled for August 20. In its announcement blog post, Google also teased a 5G version of the Pixel 4a and a 5G-enabled Pixel 5 coming later this year – but that's all we know about those handsets so far.