Mobiles & Tablets

First impressions of the Pixel 4a

Mala Bhargava | Updated on: Oct 12, 2020

Nice and compact, knitted with clean software and Google’s iconic camera

Google has just brought its Pixel 4a in India, as promised in August. It’s the only Pixel version we’ll get because the Pixel 4, 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 will not be available. But we’re not really missing out on very much because the Pixel 4a has a lot going for it.

Many people look for compact Android phones that also work well and have great features and it’s very difficult to find one. The 4a has a 5.8 and feels really good to hold. You can curl your fingers around it and grip it well and even use it one-handed, if that’s your habit. This is a wonderful contrast to the big broad big-screen phones one gets.


It’s only available in ‘Just Black’ and is really plain and understated, except that it has nice peppermint white power button. The back is made of soft plastic with nothing but a camera and the Google logo. It does however show up oily finger smudges and also specks of dust, but if you don’t mind that and are ready to do some vigorous wiping, you don’t need a case — and one is not provided in the box. In fact you get no extras in the box and may want to get both a case and screen protection.


Look around and you’ll spot the 3.5 mm jack. Users still strongly resent the removal of the headphone jack, so this should make people happy. The phone is slim and light and just very comfortably holdable. Overall, though, it doesn’t feel premium, the Pixel 4a is very nice for those who don’t need to flash the device about. A snazzy case can always help.

When you turn on the phone and look at the display, you’ll find just a small punch hole for the front camera. Thank god the big ugly notch from the Pixel 3 series is gone. The OLED screen is is pleasant enough and though it doesn’t get very bright in the sunlight, it’s again comfortable, like so much else about this phone.


This phone is really all about the software. It uses a snapdragon 730 G with 6GB RAM and 128 GB storage, but the Pixel 4a just isn’t a phone you can evaluate in terms of its hardware or specs. Whatever the Pixel’s specs, it works smooth in that buttery way that first showed up on Google’s Nexus phones. It isn’t snappy in the same way as a OnePlus way, but has a special smoothness that just has to be experienced to be understood.


The Pixel has always had an iconic camera, game changing because of the way it uses software rather than piling on the lenses. Here there’s only one front camera and one rear camera and they work wonders. These are cameras with which you really don’t have to do very much. Point and shoot and you’ll almost never get a blurred photo. Instead you’ll see clarity. The low light imaging is amazing and even startling at times when you shoot something that’s almost dark only to find it’s all lit up with the night sight mode. So that’s another thing — it’s rare to get a camera this good at the price.


The Pixel 4a now comes with the just released Android 11 and will be kept updated for three years with whatever Google puts out. The experience is all Google or should one say Google Assistant. It’s a relief not to have all sorts of bells and whistles and push notifications and just Android the way Google makes it.

The Pixel 4a is available from October 16 at any introductory price of 29,999. There’s only one variant, and people are going to make a beeline for it because compared with all previous pixels, it’s really affordable. Good luck getting one if you want it.

Published on October 11, 2020
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