Our first tests of the Google Pixel 4a: already a king of the photo in the mid-range

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The Pixel 4a

The Google Pixel 4a is a mid-range smartphone that relies heavily on photos. We have already been able to carry out some tests of the product in order to find out what it is worth and to offer you initial detailed feedback while awaiting the official release of the device … in October.

The Google Pixel 4a camera

The Google Pixel 4a has just been made official, but to be able to buy it, you will have to wait a long time, about two months. Lucky that we are, we have already had a copy to discover the product. The opportunity to offer you our first tests. Be careful though: you won’t find our full review here. Why ? Just because between now and its release, the Pixel 4a will most likely be updated to Android 11. In addition to the different software experience, this should have an impact on battery life.

The device is even supposed to ship the new version of Google Assistant which will work locally and we are not immune to some photo optimizations either.

The front of the Google Pixel 4a

Today we will focus on a number of areas where we can already give you detailed feedback.

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Google Pixel 4a Technical Sheet :

ModelGoogle Pixel 4a
OS versionAndroid 10 Q
Manufacturer interfaceAndroid Stock
Screen size5.81 inches
Definition2340 x 1080 pixels
Pixel density443 ppp
TechnologyOLED
SoCSnapdragon 730G
Graphics Chip (GPU)Qualcomm Adreno 618
Random access memory (RAM)6 GB
Internal memory (flash)128 GB
Camera (back)Sensor 1: 12.2 Mp
Camera (front)8 Mp
Video recording1080p
Wi-FiWi-Fi 5 (ac)
Bluetooth5.0
Supported bands2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
NFCYes
Fingerprint sensorYes
Ports (Inputs/Outputs)USB Type-C
Battery3140 mAh
Dimensions69.4 x 144 x 8.2mm
Weight143 grams
ColorBlack

 

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Sobrely Yours :

If we obviously expect the Google Pixel 4a in its photo performance, it is above all its reduced size that strikes from the first grip. This phone can clearly claim the title of “compact” as it is perfectly suited to small hands. Realize: it’s just 144mm high, 69.4mm wide and 8.2mm thick. This is very rare in the industry in 2020.

Add to that the featherweight of 143 grams and you have a Google Pixel 4a that can clearly be considered cute. This qualifier is not, however, won in advance as the device shows extreme simplicity in its design, difficult to make a more beautiful declaration of love for sobriety.

The bubble in the screen of the Google Pixel 4a The Google Pixel 4a unlock button

Thus, the flat screen is drilled in the upper left corner. The punch is not the most inconspicuous on the planet, and some are likely to be inconvenienced. Personally, in the vast majority of cases, I find it quite easy to forget. The slab is also surrounded by a clearly visible black frame, but for less than 400 $, this is nothing really shocking, especially since the borders in question have a relatively equal thickness (the chin is slightly wider ) which offers a good feeling of homogeneity and balance.

On the back, the polycarbonate back does not revolutionize the sensations that a phone can provide in the hand, but the comfort of use is there.

The back of the Google Pixel 4a

The fingerprint reader on the back is centered and very discreet, just a small circular recess. The square photo module sits at the top left and only houses a single photo sensor in addition to the LED flash. On the mid-range at least, Google shows that it is not trying to race with the proliferation of photo sensors like many manufacturers.

The American giant has allowed itself only a touch of fantasy: a white button on the right edge for the unlocking which stands out well on the black color. We will appreciate in passing the stereo speakers for a better spatialization of the sound. Audiophiles anti bluetooth headphones will be delighted to find a 3.5mm jack on the top side, opposite the USB-C port at the bottom.

The jack is placed at the top of the Pixel 4a The Google Pixel 4a fingerprint reader

On the left is the nano SIM drawer. Cannot insert two, but you can use an eSIM. The Google Pixel 4a does not support microSD either.

A Good OLED Screen Without 90 Hz :

The Google Pixel 4a offers you a 5.81-inch OLED panel with Full HD + definition. In addition to being very small, the panel thus offers perfect contrast and a very high maximum brightness which allows excellent readability, even when the sun is very strong. Our probe combined with Portrait Displays CalMan software measures a peak at 647cd/m², which is more than sufficient.

When it comes to managing colorimetry, the Google Pixel 4a is not the most generous in customization. By default, the smartphone is set to an adaptive mode that adjusts the tones according to the ambient light. However, the display settings still give the possibility to change to a contrasting or natural mode.

The screen of the Google Pixel 4a

Despite what its name may suggest, the contrast mode is ultimately quite faithful to reality. For example, the average Delta E over the large DCI-P3 color space (more difficult to grasp, especially on the midrange) is only 3.03. However, we generally aim for an ideal of 3 to ensure that the colors displayed correspond to reality. In other words, the Google Pixel 4a is a good student in this area.

Below, we can see that only the indicator of the color cyan (100%) flies a little without touching the skies like a player of Flight Simulator either.

Pixel 4a

The average color temperature in “contrast” mode barely rises above 6500K, which is impeccable so as not to pour too much towards blue or too much towards red.

On the downside, the Pixel 4a is still quite limited in the variety of colors it can display. Still in high contrast mode, if it manages to cover 120% of the RGB space, it drops to only 80% coverage on the DCI-P3 which, as has been said, is larger. Going natural worsens these results.

Finally, note that the screen does not exceed 60 Hz.

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Photo: He Sees In The Night And Makes Your Portrait :

The Google Pixel 4a has a 12-megapixel rear photo sensor with a lens opening at f/1.7. Add an LED flash and that’s it. You get the extremely simple configuration offered by the phone. Is this a fault? Oh no, far from it! The Mountain View firm manages to defend its reputation, even with this mid-range model.

In the daytime photos, the smartphone offers a very good level of detail and the colors stand out well with renderings a little more contrasted than reality. It’s beautiful and very effective.

When it comes to dynamics management, the Pixel 4a doesn’t force HDR too much, and fairly dark areas of a scene will stay dark in the shot without actually being clogged. The rendering is therefore objectively very good in this kind of case, but does not flatter the retina as much as the image treatments of other brands who like to sublimate their shots. As an example.

On night shots, the Google Pixel 4a does really well and avoids the pitfalls common on mid-range models by greatly reducing image noise and blurring. The camera’s normal mode, however, does not help to work wonders in very dark scenes.

For “miracles”, you will have to use the famous “Night Sight” option from the Pixel range – “Night vision”. This feature is of exceptional quality. From a scene where nothing can be seen, the Pixel 4a manages to produce a photo teeming with detail and therefore does better with its night mode than many more expensive smartphones. We may know that Google is a past master in the matter, the result is always stunning.

Take a look at this comparison below. You can’t see anything in one photo while you see the number of windows on the buildings and even the roof tiles on the other.

without Night Mode With Night mode

A priori, having only one photo sensor on the back, should restrict the portrait mode of the Google Pixel 4a. Well, not really. Still based primarily on the powerful algorithms of the American giant, the phone knows very well how to highlight the face of your model with a very successful bokeh effect. Unfortunately, it’s not always perfect and some strands of hair can be mistakenly blurred or, conversely, small elements in the decor are sometimes interpreted as a foreground element to be kept in focus. But overall, this smartphone proves that a single well-exploited classic wide-angle sensor can do as well and often better than a depth sensor.

The only downside here is that it may take 3 to 5 seconds to process the photo after taking the shot. Also note that portrait mode also works on animals according to Google, and in my own experience also looks great on a pine cone.

The portrait mode of the Google Pixel 4a works great on a pine cone

On a less positive note, while the lack of optical zoom can’t really be considered a flaw, the fact that the Pixel 4a doesn’t offer an ultra-wide-angle mode is a bit frustrating and will, arguably, be its primary focus. default in photo. For photos of landscapes visited on vacation or simply to capture a larger number of elements in the scene, this smartphone will unfortunately not be the most practical. Pity.

Finally, many smartphones offer very dispensable macro modes. That said, if you stick to it, the Pixel 4a delivers great images when you get a little closer to an object to capture the fine details. Strictly speaking, it’s not macro, but it’s very usable.

Macro Macro

Side selfie, the sensor on the front has a definition of 8 megapixels (f/2.0) which knows how to restore the details of the face.
In video, the Google Pixel 4a shoots up to 4K at 30 frames per second or 1080p at 60 fps. Slow motionmode offers 120 fps in Full HD and 240 fps in HD.

Correct Performance And Too Fair Autonomy :

It’s a Snapdragon 730 that powers this Google Pixel 4a. In short, this is a mid-range SoC that has proven itself without ever really impressing either. For example, a game of Fortnite can launch in medium quality while enjoying 30 frames per second in a very stable manner.

This is therefore very correct, but it is still impossible to obtain a higher level of graphics. Surprisingly, most benchmarks don’t work on this phone right now, no doubt Google applied some sort of limitation to limit leaks before officialization.

It was still possible for us to launch AnTuTu, the most popular benchmark (and not available on the Play Store), to get an idea of the power. Unsurprisingly, the Pixel 4a does worse than the OnePlus Nord, but outperforms the Galaxy A51.

Google Pixel 4aOnePlus NordSamsung Galaxy A51Google Pixel 3a
S730GS765GExynos 9611S670
AnTuTu 8247 051332 107177 359158 535
As we mentioned above, the expected update to the final version of Android 11 should bring some improvements to the autonomy. Fingers crossed anyway, because the 3,140mAh battery is a bit too tight to keep the Pixel 4a going until bedtime hassle free. That’s not all that bad, but the device is more for people who often leave their phones behind than for those who actively use them throughout the day.
The Google Pixel 4a USB-C port

If you’re used to launching multiple apps throughout the day – without necessarily even trying your hand at video games – the Pixel 4a, in its current state, will see its battery level melt away pretty quickly. We have already put it through our custom ViSer test protocol which simulates the habits of a fairly active user and the phone recorded a score of only 8h57 min. We’re starting to flirt with the bottom of the rankings.

This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it is a significant weakness. Once again, this comment is not definitive and we hope, with a little optimism, that the Pixel 4a on the market does better. Also note that the smartphone comes with an 18 W fast charger.

Google PIXEL 4a Network And Communication :

The Google Pixel 4a is compatible with all 4G frequency bands, however the 5G network is not supported on this model.
I have not yet had the opportunity to test the call quality of the phone, but concerning the accuracy of the geolocation, the device was sometimes a little slow to indicate my position precisely during a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau. The blue point in Google Maps often moved on its own on the map for a few seconds before settling on the right point. Nothing really serious.

Already Heavy-Duty Formula :

To sum up our first impressions, we could say that the Google Pixel 4a has shown a pleasant sobriety by its design and its compact size. No frills, it gets straight to the point on this point. We also appreciate the beautiful display quality of its screen, even if it remains a little limited in terms of colorimetry and that it does not take advantage of a 90 Hz mode.

On the photo side, the Google Pixel 4a responds to defend the reputation of the Pixel range and this, with a single sensor on the back. The images look great, while the portrait mode, even if it can be improved, is very good. The night mode, on very dark scenes, impresses greatly and ultimately we just regret the absence of ultra wide-angle.

The minimum service is assured on the performances, but it is on the autonomy that our main concerns are. The Pixel 4a seems too fair in this area for the moment with its small battery and we hope that the update to Android 11 will prove us wrong. Anyway, the proposal made by this model is already very attractive as long as it corresponds to what you expect from a smartphone.

Google Pixel 4a Price And Availability :

As we said, the health crisis of 2020 prevented Google from meeting its initial deadlines. The Pixel 4a is therefore officially announced today at a price of 410 dollars, but you will have to wait until October before you can buy it.

  • Google Pixel 4a Vs OnePlus Nord :

The main opponent of the Google Pixel 4a seems to be the OnePlus Nord freshly formalized from 470 dollars. This last left us a very good impression, but fishes a little on the photo. However, this is precisely the strong point of the Pixel 4a, in addition to its very compact size.

Then we could mention the presence of a 3.5mm jack and stereo speakers on the Google model, but some might prefer the 5G compatibility offered by the OnePlus terminal. Between these two smartphones, it will be essential to determine your major criteria before making a choice.

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