Google Pixel 4a 5G unboxing and hands on: The Goldilocks Pixel?

Google Pixel 4a 5G in hand front of phone 2

Now that the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 are official, we’ve got three different Pixels to choose from this year. There’s the Pixel 4a, which costs a cool $349, the 4a 5G, which adds some faster networking, a faster processor, and an extra camera for $499, and the Pixel 5, which adds a premium build, wireless charging, a 90Hz display, water resistance, and a bigger battery, for $699.

Between those three, the 4a 5G seems like the middle ground a lot of people are looking for. It has the biggest display of the three at 6.2-inches, the wide-angle camera everyone wanted last year, and a chip that’s perfectly future-proof with 5G connectivity. While it still lacks the extras like wireless charging and a 90Hz display sported on the Pixel 5, a lot of people won’t care about those things, and just want something that works for a good price.

Lucky for you guys, we’ve just got a 4a 5G in our hands. Let’s take a look, shall we?

See also: Google Pixel 5 vs Pixel 4a 5G vs Pixel 4a: Which should you buy?

What’s in the box?

Google Pixel 4a 5G box 2

Inside the box for the Pixel 4a 5G, you’ll find the phone, alongside a quick start guide, an 18W power brick, a power cable, and a female USB-A to male USB-C adapter. This is pretty much the standard fare for Pixels these days, though some might be a bit bummed when other devices often come with extras like headphones.

We should note that while 18W is fine for charging speed, it’s beginning to lag behind compared to other devices. Even budget devices like the OnePlus Nord commonly see 25W, 30W or more, and it would be nice to see Google move to faster charging soon. Still, the fairly large 3,885mAh battery should hopefully last longer than Pixels of the past. Cough Pixel 4 cough.

How’s the build quality?

Google Pixel 4a 5G in hand back of phone

Next to the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 4a 5G feels pretty massive. There’s a big difference between the 5.8-inch screen on the 4a and the to a 6.2-inch one on the 4a 5G, but otherwise, they look quite similar. They’re both made of the same polycarbonate material which in my opinion, feels pretty great. While they might not feel quite as premium as glass phones, they certainly feel sturdy, and higher quality than the plastic on the Pixel 3a. Plus, they most likely won’t break when you drop them. I’m a fan.

Probably the more notable difference between the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G is the rear camera module. While they’re both fundamentally the same shape, the Pixel 4a 5G has two cameras, a 12MP main sensor, and a 16MP wide sensor, while the Pixel 4a only rocks that main 12MP shooter. If you’re someone who takes a lot of landscape photos or likes to get a lot in your shot, this could be a big deal, especially considering Astrophotography is generally taken with wide-angle cameras.

Otherwise, the build of the Pixel 4a 5G is almost identical to the Pixel 4a. You’ve got a USB-C port and speakers on the bottom, a SIM card tray on the left, a power button and volume rockers on the left, and even a headphone jack up top! The main difference here is that for the black model at least, the power button on the Pixel 4a 5G is purple, where the 4a’s power button was more teal.

How’s the screen?

Google Pixel 4a 5G in hand front of phone 2

Just like the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 4a 5G has a fantastic display. It’s a bright and beautiful AMOLED with fantastic color and brightness. The Pixel 4a had one of the best displays we’ve tested year, and the Pixel 4a 5G looks to continue that trend, albeit in a bigger 6.2-inch size.

If you were hoping for a 90Hz display on this model, you’ll likely be left disappointed. The Pixel 4a 5G maintains the 60Hz display from the Pixel 4a, and you’ll have to jump to the Pixel 5 if you want a faster refresh rate. There is also a hole-punch camera in the top-left of the display, coming in at 8MP.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this display. It’s every bit as good as it was on the Pixel 4a, which is to say, very, very good.

What about the internals?

Google Pixel 4a 5G standard back image

Inside, the Pixel 4a 5G is effectively a direct mix of the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5. It has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor you’ll find in the Pixel 5, which gives it 5G connectivity and faster overall speeds. Look at RAM though, and you’ll find 6GB, which is in line with the Pixel 4a, but down from the 8GB in the Pixel 5. While 6GB of RAM is still mostly fine for Android devices in 2020, the extra 2GB in the Pixel 5 gives you that extra little bit of confidence in the device’s longevity.

Related: Snapdragon 765G vs Snapdragon 865

For storage, the Pixel 4a 5G sells in just one SKU — 128GB. This is the same amount of storage you’ll find in both the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 5, and I think it’s a great size for the price. While it would have been nice for Google to include expandable storage in this phone, 128GB should be a fine amount for most people, especially with things like Google Photos image backup.

  Pixel 5 Pixel 4a 5G Pixel 4a
Display 6-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
90Hz refresh rate
6.2-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
60Hz refresh rate
5.81-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
60Hz refresh rate
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
RAM 8GB 6GB 6GB
Storage 128GB
No microSD card slot
128GB
No microSD card slot
128GB
No microSD card slot
Camera Rear:

Main:
12.2MP, f/1.7, 1.4µm pixels, optical + electronic image stabilization

Secondary:
16MP, f/2.2, 1 micron pixel, ultra-wide (107 degree FoV)

Front:
8MP sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm pixels, fixed focus, 83-degree field-of-view

Rear:

Main:
12.2MP, f/1.7, 1.4µm pixels, optical + electronic image stabilization

Secondary:
16MP, f/2.2, 1 micron pixel, ultra-wide (107 degree FoV)

Front:
8MP sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm pixels, fixed focus, 83-degree field-of-view

Rear:
12.2MP, f/1.7, 1.4µm pixels, optical + electronic image stabilization

Front:
8MP sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm pixels, fixed focus, 83-degree field-of-view

Battery 4,080mAh 3,800mAh 3,140mAh
Software Android 11 Android 11 Android 11
Price $699 $499 $349

Should you buy the Pixel 4a 5G?

Google Pixel 4a 5G back angled shot

At $499, the Pixel 4a 5G slots in as the perfect Goldilocks phone for people who want a bigger display, faster processor and networking, and an additional camera next to the $150 cheaper Pixel 4a. That being said, if you were looking for things like wireless charging, a metal build, IP68 water and dust resistance, or a 90Hz display, you’ll have to spend the extra $200 on the Pixel 5.

Overall, I think Google has done a great job balancing price and features between its three pixels this year. While I think $649 would have been a better price for the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a 5G cements itself as a great deal if you want good Pixel at a good price.

As always, our reviews of both the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 are coming soon, so you might want to stay tuned for those before you spend your cash. Until then, let us know what you think about the Pixel 4a 5G in the comments down below!

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