The Pixel 4A 5G is a no-nonsense smartphone. Moreover, with this smartphone, Google shows that a quick update policy on Android is possible. In addition, the Google Pixel 4A also scores 5G with its cameras, price, software and of course 5G. But there is a catch, which you can read more about in this Google Pixel 4A 5G review.
Google Pixel 4A 5G
price € 499, –
OS Android 11
Screen 6.2 inch OLED (2340 x 1080, 60 Hz)
Processor 2.4 Ghz octacore (Snapdragon 765G)
Battery 3,885 mAh
Camera 12.2 and 16 megapixel dualcam (rear), 8 megapixel (front)
Connectivity 5G, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC
Format 15.4 x 7.4 x 0.8 cm
Weight 168 grams
Connections usb-c, 3.5 mm jack, dual sim (e-sim or nano sim)
9 Score 90
- Android update policy
- Battery life
- Price quality
- Does not support 5G yet
- No wireless or fast charging
Google’s Pixel smartphone line consisted mainly of good smartphones, which actually never quite lived up to their high price and seemed too much copied from Apple. Not only in terms of price, but also in appearance and functionality. The low point was the Pixel 4, which despite a sky-high price was equipped with a sadly low battery capacity and had to rely on gimmicks such as hands-free operation. The Pixel 4 failed miserably. Fortunately, Google also had a formula for success with the A-series. The Google Pixel 3A that appeared in the summer of 2019 was an excellent smartphone, with a good camera, software, price and better update support than other Android manufacturers want to offer. This success formula has been expanded and applied to two new Google smartphones: the Pixel 4A and this Pixel 4A 5G.
By the way, the Pixel 4A 5G is more than a Pixel 4A with the possibility to connect to a 5G network. The 5G version also has more to offer in terms of cameras. Of course the price of this version is also a bit higher.
The Google Pixel 4A 5G is also a reasonably affordable smartphone, thanks to its price tag of 499 euros. Only that price can vary due to an inexplicably big disadvantage of the smartphone: the Google Pixel 4A 5G is not officially sold by Google in the Benelux. By the way, in our neighboring countries. In Germany, France and the United Kingdom, for example, the smartphone is widely available. In the Netherlands, it is also not difficult to purchase the Pixel 4A 5G, some web stores, such as Belsimpel, simply deliver the smartphone from stock. However, keep in mind that these smartphones are imported and therefore have a higher price.
You can choose to import the smartphone yourself via courier services, foreign acquaintances or (when the weather is possible) a trip across the border. Why Google still refuses to release its smartphones in the Netherlands, the company does not say anything about it. As well as when it does. This may be because Google assigns the Google Assistant a major role on the Pixel smartphones, and the capabilities of the Dutch-language Google Assistant are still a bit behind on, for example, the English, French, German or Spanish versions. Those who are not so served by Google’s continuously listening in on the voice assistant, whose privacy reputation is shadowy, can luckily turn it off.
The Google Pixel 4A 5G is worth considering despite the additional import costs (which are usually a few bucks). It radiates from being a no-nonsense smartphone in everything. No fingerprint scanner under the screen, but just physically on the back (which still works more accurately and faster). There is a plastic housing that may feel a bit less luxurious, but is more resistant to falling and lighter. Instead of a parade of different cameras and depth sensors, two cameras have been placed at the rear that are not inferior to iPhones that are priced almost three times as high. In terms of connections, you also have an audio port in addition to your USB-C port (with modest fast-charging function). Updates are quickly rolled out for Pixel smartphones and for Android concepts, the support duration is also a bit longer. In combination with the 5G support, this makes the Pixel 4A 5G a future-proof smartphone. Please note, however, that 5G support is still delayed at the time of writing.
But there are also hardships that may be perceived as detrimental by some. For example, the chipset does have a 5G modem, which does not break any records in the benchmarks in terms of computing power. The screen also does not have a higher refresh rate and the option to charge the Pixel wirelessly is also missing. The fast charging technology (only 18 watts) is also not so advanced that the charger gets the battery of the device half full within fifteen minutes.
The Pixel 4A 5G has a fairly large 6.2-inch screen, making the device size a bit on the large side. Due to the plastic housing, the smartphone is pleasantly light. The matte plastic that is used does not give the Pixel 4A 5G a cheap appearance.
The 6.2-inch screen does not have a high refresh rate. Furthermore, nothing is missing from the panel. For example, the Full HD resolution is sharp enough and there is hardly anything to criticize in terms of brightness and color reproduction.
Smetje is the hole in the top left corner that is used for the front camera. It doesn’t look nice and the black border around the camera makes the hole in the screen just a bit too big.
Performance and battery life
Despite the fact that the Pixel 4A 5G does not have the fastest chipset (Snapdragon 765G), the performance is fine. Perhaps it is because Google has of course controlled the software optimization of Android and Pixel skin all by itself. No crashes, no stutter. But you do notice that heavier apps need just a little more loading time. These are mainly heavier AR apps or games. Everyday apps run like a charm.
The battery also benefits from good optimization. Because despite the fact that the capacity is not particularly high (3,885 mAh), a full battery lasts longer than many smartphones with a larger battery. One and a half to two days is (depending of course on your use) possible.
Google has also incorporated a clever trick for those who charge the battery at night and therefore have little need for super-fast charging. When you set the alarm on your smartphone, the device will ensure that the device charges as slowly as possible and is only charged when the alarm rings. This benefits the lifespan of the battery, especially because little heat is generated during charging. A smart function that Google has incorporated into the Pixel skin, which will hopefully also be available to other Android users soon.
The Pixel 4A 5G will receive support up to Android 14.
Because the Pixel 4A 5G does not run a bare Android version, as you get with Android One, for example. Google has added its own look and smart functions to Android. That’s what I already called slow charging at night. The device can also, for example, adjust the volume to the environment (although the sound quality from the speakers is not impressive even for smartphone concepts). There are also relatively many personalization options, such as colors, fonts, icon shapes and backgrounds.
Pixel smartphones receive system and security updates immediately when available, as Apple has done with iPhones for many years. It is the only Android manufacturer whose update speed and support time are acceptable. Google promises at least three version updates, which would mean support up to Android 14. With so-called ‘feature drops’, the Pixel gets extra new functionality via updates.
A big advantage is that the Pixel is rich in functionality, but otherwise no bloatware like Facebook and deceptive virus scanner apps on board. Of course, all Google apps are over-represented, but removable. The Assistant is excessively present and therefore feels somewhat forced: via speech, swipe, app, search bar, and so on. Regardless of whether you use it or not. You have to dig deep into the system settings to curb this a bit.
The reason the Pixel 4A 5G leaves price competitors behind is the cameras. Many, especially Chinese smartphone makers, try to convince with a parade of different lenses, many megapixels and sensors in specification lists. In practice (especially the wide-angle and zoom) lenses are often not capable of much and the software adjustment is not optimal. Google shows that smartphone photography is primarily a software story. The main camera on Pixel smartphones has been the same lens for several generations, it is the computing power and advanced software of the device that distinguishes and records all details in great detail.
In addition to the regular lens, the Pixel 4A 5G (just like the Pixel 5) has a second lens that takes wide-angle photos. Which makes the Pixel just a little more versatile in terms of photography options. Moreover, there is also a night mode and portrait mode that cannot be matched by price competitors. The night mode uses a slightly slower shutter speed and switches on automatically when there is less light. As a result, you sometimes suffer from blurred photos.
The Pixel 4A 5G shows that the best smartphone cameras do not necessarily require exaggerated prices of over 700 euros.
Nevertheless, the Pixel camera hits the competition, including the iPhone SE (2020) roughly. Capturing color and detail, even with backlighting, dark surfaces and multiple light sources, is very good and can compete with the most expensive smartphones such as those from Samsung, Huawei and Apple. These often distinguish themselves with an extra zoom lens, or in the case of Huawei also with a better night mode. Despite this, the Pixel 4A 5G shows that the best smartphone cameras do not necessarily require exaggerated prices above 700 euros.
Alternatives to the Pixel 4A 5G
When Apple released the new iPhone SE in 2020, the smartphone had a significant advantage over the competition due to its good camera and update support. That foundation has been completely discarded by the Pixel 4A 5G, because not only are these features of this Google smartphone, you also do not suffer from a too small battery, inferior screen panel and hassle with outdated and missing connections.
You may want a smartphone with more computing power, storage (or the option to expand the storage), a screen with a high refresh rate, a more luxurious or waterproof housing, or are looking for a more available smartphone. In that case, you can go to smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, OnePlus Nord or the Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro.
Conclusion: buy Google Pixel 4A 5G?
The Pixel 4A 5G is an excellent smartphone that skips on peripheral issues such as a zoom lens, high-refresh rate screen, wireless or ultra-fast charging and a luxury housing. The smartphone scores many points on all the basic components, such as the camera quality, Android update policy and functions. The Pixel has this basis better than all competitors in comparable price ranges.