Nowadays smartphones are getting better and better. And bigger. And therefore more expensive.
And then there’s the Google Pixel 4a, which got better and cheaper in 2020. A year ago, Google’s Pixel 3a was an excellent buy, a smartphone that didn’t break the bank but still offered a powerful camera and snappy performance.
It was an anomaly last year, but Google still wanted things to get better. So the Pixel 4a only costs $ 349, a price that’s $ 50 cheaper than its predecessor. And despite the discount, it manages to incorporate a multitude of features that are both dynamic and incredibly useful.
The Google Pixel 4a is one of the friendliest smartphones out there, and yet it is compatible with much more expensive devices. And in a market that generally aims to excite and overwhelm with features, this is a uniquely impressive accomplishment.
The design just works
These days, big is in the cell phones, from the venerable and premium Note line from Samsung to the iPhone Pro Max Edition from Apple. There are tons of reasons to go for it too, ranging from being simply productive to being able to appreciate both social media videos and movies, or using your phone to be productive in work situations (and at work from home) .
Of course, the Pixel 4a defies this trend. It has a 5.8-inch screen and yes, that’s significantly smaller than my iPhone Pro Max. However, that screen still delivers solid video quality. Watching Cobra Kai is a solid experience, even if you occasionally miss out on larger displays for longer movies.
This screen is only part of what makes the Pixel 4a so special. What’s even more noticeable is the back of the phone. Yes, it’s solid and black and boring like so many other devices on the market. But it also has an easy-to-grip material that makes it easier to grasp. This material is also resistant to fingerprints. Unlike every other phone you’ve had over the years, this one isn’t going to be cleaned all the time.
The entire design just screams for “ease of use”. This is a phone meant to be used to endure a pounding, not some device to leave in a corner. It is also a device that can stand on its own. Most phones require you to pay extra cash for the case that protects the beautiful, shiny exterior. The Pixel 4a doesn’t need any of this. Grab it and go because it’s ready for anything and a lot durable.
There’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack. This feature is rapidly disappearing on phones, forcing us into the era of bluetooth headphones. Of course, bluetooth phones are great, but when you’re in a hurry or dealing with multiple headphones, they’re a pain too. The classic 3.5mm jack used to be standard and worked with any pair of sockets and earbuds, but too many phones forego it.
The Pixel 4a is bringing it back, and it’s a feature you won’t know you missed until you get it back. I quickly plug into this jack when going to the grocery store or taking a bike ride. It’s easier than pairing my PowerBeats Pros with a 17th device.
Snappy performance, strong camera
Google also offers powerful performance for this phone. Google supplies a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor and 6 GB of RAM here, which is suitable for most productivity tasks. No, you are not going to be playing top notch games here, but that is not the purpose of this device anyway. In my everyday life, I hardly noticed any slowing down. It is also important that the battery is kept in general use for a full day.
This use involved heavy camera work as I spend a lot of time recording video and this is one place where the Pixel 4a shines. Forget multiple lenses and oversized camera bodies because none of that is here. Instead, you get a single 12.2 megapixel shooter on the back of the camera, nice and minimalistic. But this shooter takes crisp, clear photos full of detail.
Google is packing more features into the Pixel 4a than you might expect, especially in the video space. Slow and fast motion modes are available and work well. The video itself is pretty impressive. Many phones overwhelm you with options. Google keeps things simple and easy to use, and that makes it easy to use on the go. This is an ideal point-and-shoot phone camera that I can pull out of my back pocket and quickly navigate with one hand to get that ultra-fast shot without thinking about things.
And it’s awesome.
The lonely omission
All of this and yes, I got through a full day with no problems because the battery is solid. But when I needed to charge the Pixel 4a, I instinctively left it on my wireless charging dock overnight. The next day the battery was not full.
Why? Because the only problem with the Pixel 4a is a lack of wireless charging capabilities. That means you need to plug into a USB-C port. And yes, you should have one by now, but it’s a little less convenient when you’re on the go or in a rush. No, that doesn’t destroy Google’s Pixel 4a, but it would have been nice to have a wireless charging option.
However, so much else about this phone is nice that you don’t mind having a charger nearby. Especially because you can take robust pictures, listen to music, and do so many other things – for just $ 349.
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