With a little less than a day of actual hands on time with the just launched $599 Pixel 4a, we thought we would share our early impressions of this years affordable Pixel device. Remember, though, a full and thoughtful review takes weeks to do properly, this really is just a first impression.
I have long been a fan of affordable phones, and the Pixel a line is the hero of that category. Coming in at $599 AUD this year the Pixel 4a continues to represent good value, while bringing very little in the way of compromises to the table.
Let’s start with it’s size, it’s small, at least for me who has been used to Pixel XL devices as well as other mid rangers in the 6.3 inch size for a while now. For some people it will be the perfect size, for others, too small and I bet there will be some who complain it’s not small enough.
It’s light, thanks to it’s diminutive stature, polycarbonate outer shell, 3140 mAh battery and silky texture the Pixel 4a almost feels like it’s not in your hand. That’s not a bad thing, but I think I’d want a case on the Pixel 4a, then again I put a case on all of my phones.
Performance has been buttery smooth during the setup process, the only thing that came close to making it chug was the game Wizards Unit and it makes everything chug when first loading. Again it’s too early to really comment but so far the Snapdragon 730G looks to be a more than capable SOC.
I was sad to not see wireless charging this year, it feels like OEMs are artificially keeping Qi charging out of the mid tier just to have a desirable feature to tempt you to upgrade. I was also sad to see the end of the squeeze for Assistant feature found on last year’s Pixel 3a.
That brings us to the software. This is a Pixel, that means it’s running Google’s stock plus version of Android 10 including enhanced AI, computational photography and integrated services from across Google’s platform. It is both a great Android device and a vehicle to show of the best of Google.
Google has brought many of the flagship feature launched on the Pixel 4 down to the Pixel 4a. This includes features like Night Sight with astrophotography, Live HD+, portrait blur and Super Res Zoom, Live Caption and a new feature Live Caption for Calls. There’s also the new recorder app and a slew of Google’y enhancements to the base Android OS.
Of course being a Pixel the 4a will come with a 3 year Security and 2 year OS upgrade guarantee. That means you can expect the Pixel 4a to be running Android 11 by Christmas and it to get Android 12 next year. Security updates should continue through until late 2023.
While we will be undertaking a full review, and we reserve the right to adjust our opinions based on more time with the device, right now I’m confident in saying that for phones retailed in Australia, the Pixel 4a is the best phone for $599, and to get a better phone you’d have to spend a lot lot more.
While you can still get a good phone for a little less if you can stretch your budget to $599 then I think that the Pixel 4a is going to end up as a wise purchase. We will return with a full review in a few weeks.