Google Pixel smartphones have a dedicated fan following in India. They are looked up as the devices that offer the best smartphone camera results out-of-the-box and clean stock UI with the advantage of being the first devices to get the new Android updates. However, all of this comes at a steep price, making the Pixel series out of consideration for most Indian consumers.
Google changed that with the mid-range Pixel 3a smartphone that offered the best of Google Pixel devices at a mid-range price, with a few cost cuttings. The result was that the Pixel 3a garnered great reviews and saw good response from the users. Now, Google is trying to do the same with its latest Pixel 4a.
The Pixel 4a is a true successor to the Pixel 3a as it improves on the hardware and performance. The Pixel 4a comes with the Snapdragon 730G processor in the hardware department, 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The trouble is that at its asking price of Rs 29,999, these specifications are not the best on paper as you can get the OnePlus Nord with the more powerful Snapdragon 765 at a lower price. However, in real-life usage, it's a different story. The processor delivers seamless performance for basic day-to-day use and gaming – we did not face any issue in playing COD: Mobile on the phone. So irrespective of the type of user that goes for this device, the phone will satisfy any performance requirements. The limiting part is that there is no option for 256GB storage for power users and that it still comes with UFS 2.1 storage; it would have been better off with UFS 3.0 storage.
Let’s talk about battery life
The battery life of the Pixel 4a is one of its highlights. With a 3,140 mAh battery, we were expecting the phone to struggle through half a day. However, much to our surprise, the phone easily lasts from 9 am to 9 pm with heavy usage and even then has some battery to spare. There is also support for 18W fast charging, which might look inferior to the competitor's offerings, but it gets the job done as the smaller size battery charges faster. Credit also goes to the Pixel 4a's adaptive battery that optimizes the battery being consumed by your installed apps to push your battery life further.
The Pixel 4a is a breath of fresh air with its compact design. Today, there are hardly any phones that offer a compact design as most brands launch phones with large screens nowadays. Switching over to the Pixel 4a from the Samsung S10 Plus initially felt odd, but after just a day of usage, I started loving the handy form factor. It's a polycarbonate body that feels sturdy and has a classic look to it. The rear fingerprint scanner's presence further adds to the look, and I prefer this fingerprint scanner over the in-display ones.
You get a 5.81-inch OLED display with sleek bezels all around that gives the phone a stylish appearance. Its front camera has a hole-punch design, which Google calls a transmissive hole. We found the screen to be great for almost all usage scenarios - playing games, watching movies or just reading text. The only gripe we have is that it uses the dated Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.
What about the camera?
Cameras are the primary attraction on Pixel devices, and the Pixel 4a certainly lives up to the name. Even though you get a single 12.2 MP rear camera, thanks to Google's machine learning and optimizations, it delivers much better photos with phones that have multiple camera lenses. Portrait shots from the Pixel 4a are a class apart as no other phone manages to provide similar results at this price. Moreover, the low light capabilities of the Pixel 4a are second to none – even with a zero w light source, the pixel 4a manages to capture photos with a good amount of details. The front 8MP camera is also a capable shooter that captures fantastic selfies irrespective of the light conditions. Its portrait mode also works great with surprisingly good edge detection. Overall, there is no other smartphone in this price segment that comes close to the Pixel 4a for photos, in our opinion.
Some of the other advantages with the Pixel 4a come on the software side. It runs the stock Android 11 with no bloatware, and you will get Android updates for the next three years. Plus, the Pixel 4a will be amongst the first devices to receive new Android updates. All of this combined makes the Pixel 4a stand out from the crop of customized user interfaces that suffer from various bugs.
At Rs 29,999, Pixel 4a has several things going in its favour. You have a compact classic design, fluid performance, great camera and excellent battery life. In a price and hardware specifications sensitive India market, the Pixel 4a would have to struggle compared to options available by brands such as Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus etc. However, if Google manages to set a good marketing campaign to push the Pixel 4a, it has all the right things to become a success.