Here is how Google's latest budget Android smartphone stacks up against its predecessor
Google has finally announced its latest cut-price Android smartphone, the Pixel 4A. Expected to launch earlier in the year, the phone was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is now available to pre-order for $349 ahead of going on sale on August 20. And you can also order Pixel 4A smartphone cases for the new device as well.
There is just one size of Pixel 4A this year, compared to the dual offering of Pixel 3A and 3A XL in 2019. Otherwise, the new phone is more of what Google has earned itself a good reputation for – meaning it looks like a lot of phone for the money.
Here is how the new Pixel 4A compares to the Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL from 2019:
Google Pixel 4A vs Pixel 3A: Design and dimensions
The new Pixel 4A has a slightly smaller footprint than both the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, while measuring exactly the same thickness as both of those models.
This means a footprint of 144 x 69.4mm for the new Pixel 4A, compared to 151.3 x 70.1 for the Pixel 3A, and 160.1 x 76.1 mm for the 3A XL. All three handsets are 8.2mm thick.
The smaller size is due to the new phone having a display that stretches further into all four corners of the handset than it did on the previous models. All previous Pixel phones have suffered from fairly large display bezels, so we're pleased to see Google finally address this with the 4A.
Dimensions of the Google Pixel 4A, Pixel 4 and Pixel 3AGoogle
Otherwise, much of the design remains the same as before. The 4A has the same circular fingerprint sensor on its back (which takes some getting used to), power and volume buttons on its right-hand side, and a camera on the upper-right corner. However this now sits inside a square module, instead of the circular lens and LED flash being separate. Also different is how the Pixel 4A no longer has the Pixel's trademark two-tone glass back.
Color options have been slimmed down from black, white and purple for the Pixel 3A, to just black for the 4A. A USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack (an increasingly rare component on today's smartphones) remain in place.
Overall, while the design has changed to make the new phone a little smaller than its predecessors, there isn't much to write home about, or convince Pixel 3A owners to upgrade.
Google Pixel 4A vs Pixel 3A: Display
Thanks to those smaller bezels, the new Pixel 4A has a display that is larger than the Pixel 3A, despite being a smaller phone overall. The screen measures 5.81 inches, compared to 5.6 inches for the Pixel 3A and 6.0 inches for the 3A XL.
The resolution of the Pixel 4A is 2340 x 1080, which is almost exactly the same as the 2220 x 1080 of the 3A and 2160 x 1080 of the 3A XL. All three have OLED panels with a 60Hz refresh rate, so no 90Hz or 120Hz options here.
Having a slightly taller display than its predecessor, the Pixel 4A has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, instead of the 18:9 ratio used by the 3A and 3A XL. But in reality this small change shouldn't make much difference to the experience of using the phone.
Unlike any other Pixel phone to date, the new 4A has a hole-punch front camera. This helps to significantly reduce the display bezel, but means the camera takes up a small amount of the screen, in the upper-left corner.
Again, there isn't much to split old from new here. We like how the Pixel 4A gets a larger screen and a smaller body, and think hole-punch cameras offer a neat space-saving solution. But on a technical level, very little has changed.
Google Pixel 4A vs Pixel 3A: Camera
The Pixel 4A has a hole-punch style front camera in its displayGoogle
This is where Google's Pixel phones always shine brightly, by offering computational photography that is far better than any of their equally-priced rivals. The good news here is that Google has fitted the Pixel 4's rear camera to the Pixel 4A.
This means a 12.2-megapixel image sensor with large 1.4-micron pixels and a large f/1.7 lens with integrated optical image stabilization to keep photos sharp and video smooth. It also shares the same artificial intelligence as the Pixel 4, so the Pixel 4A should shoot very impressive photos, especially at low light thanks to Google's market-leading Night Sight technology.
For a $349 phone, the Pixel 4A should take some truly exceptional photos and video.
As for the year-old Pixel 3A and 3A XL, they shared the same rear camera as the Pixel 3, which has the same 12.2MP resolution but with smaller pixels and a narrower lens letting in less light.
The Pixel 4A has an eight-megapixel front-facing camera with 1.22-micron pixels and an f/2.0 lens. If you want a mid-tier smartphone with excellent photography skills, then it looks like the Pixel 4A could really be your one-and-only choice.
Google Pixel 4A vs Pixel 3A: Hardware specifications
The new Pixel 4A has an uprated Qualcomm SD730G processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, compared to the 3A's SD670 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This means extra speed for the newer phone, and a generous amount of memory and storage for a sub-$350 handset.
The battery of the Pixel 4A is 3,140mAh, which is slightly larger than the Pixel 3A (3,000mAh), but some way behind the 3,700mAh of the larger 3A XL.
All three phones come with 4G connectivity, but Google said today a 5G version of the Pixel 4A will launch in the fall, alongside the company's new flagship Pixel 5 handset, which will also come with 5G.
As with the camera system, Google has given the Pixel 4A's hardware specifications a serious upgrade without increasing the price. However, we don't yet know how much more expensive the 5G version will be.
Google Assistant on the Pixel 4AGoogle
Is the Pixel 4A worth upgrading to from the Pixel 3A?
For now, we think this depends on what you want from your smartphone. The Pixel 3A and 3A XL are still great handsets to be using in 2020, and while the 4A boasts a superior camera, processor, RAM and storage, the display and overall design hasn't changed a great deal.
We like how the new phone is more compact while having a larger screen than the 3A – and it really was time Google retired those ugly bezels – but that is mostly a question of aesthetics. The 3A and 4A still run the exact same version of Google's Android operating system, too.
If you want one of the best mobile camera systems around (at least until the Pixel 5 lands in the fall) then the $349 Pixel 4A is a very cost-effective way to get your hands on it – so long as you don't think you'll need 5G for another year. If you do want 5G, then you're best waiting until the fall for either the Pixel 4A 5G, or the full-fat, and no doubt more expensive, Pixel 5.