There are many reasons to be a Google Pixel fan. I can think of three – a stellar camera, a pureplay Google OS experience and pleasing aesthetics. I’ve often called the Pixel a ‘hipster smartphone’, for non-conformists who play by their own rules and rarely show off their phone in a pub or during a Zoom call (that’s where you flaunt stuff in 2020). Google has often sent conflicting signals on the positioning of its Pixel smartphones. Their pricing hasn’t always been spot on in India; many Indian users felt that last year’s Pixel 3a – one of my favourite phones from 2019, was overpriced. That’s one of the many reasons the Google Pixel 4a could be the most significant device for the Pixel brand in India.
Just recently Google unveiled the Pixel 5 and the 4a 5G, but it’s unlikely these devices will arrive soon in India if at all they do. The Pixel 4a is likely to be at the centre of Google’s India strategy. And it’s not a bad thing. The Pixel 4a may lack some of the frills of rival devices but I was sold the minute I held this device in my hand. At 143 gm, it’s almost the perfect heft for a device that you spend a lot of time with. It’s a welcome relief from bulky devices that we’ve forced to make peace with. This one’s crafted for one-handed navigation with a 5.81-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340 pixels / 443 PPI / 19.5:9 aspect ratio) OLED display that delivers crisp colours and deep blacks. It’s one of the best displays at this price but lacks a 90Hz refresh rate.
Google backs this display with stereo speakers making it fun for gaming or binge watching. It’s a clever play, Google has ticked the key boxes that matter for Indian consumers. The camera is a big part of that wish list and is probably the device’s strongest suit. There’s no quad rear cam, just one 12.2MP lens (f/1.7 aperture) that rides on Google’s brilliant software optimisation to deliver great results.
Google’s Night Sight has set new standards for lowlight photography, you can also try your hand at astrophotography (something that we will be doing soon with the device). There’s no optical zoom lens but I found images shot with up to 5X digital zoom were quite sharp. I put this cam (and the 8MP selfie shooter) through different tests and lighting scenarios; it rarely missed a beat. If there’s one thing I missed, it was the ultra-wide lens. The Pixel 4a also scores with Portrait images that look stunning even in lowlight.
Battery life is another win. The 3140 mAh battery sailed through a whole day even with a lot of camera usage in our tests. Google has bundled an 18W fast charger in the box. The solid battery life can also be attributed to Google’s choice of processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, it’s certainly not as formidable as the chipsets that power rivals like the OnePlus Nord or the pricier iPhone SE. But the combination of 6GB of RAM (with 128GB of Internal memory) and a smooth Android experience minus bloatware delivers a great overall user experience. The 4a clocked 1500 on our Geekbench test and never struggled in our gaming tests.
The Google Pixel 4a is a good looking device. It’s finished in polycarbonate and comes in one colour – Just black. The mint green power key is the only splash of colour you will see. A 3.5 mm headphone jack (an increasingly rare sight) is a cool touch but the dimpled fingerprint sensor (that’s super responsive) looks slightly dated. There’s no wireless charging or water/dust resistance. But these are not critical features for devices at this price point. Battery life, an immersive display and a kickass cam are what matter the most to most consumers at this price point. All areas where the Pixel 4a shines. And we think Google might have got its India pricing right. We’ll find out soon if consumers agree with us.
The Google Pixel 4a is available at a special launch price of Rs 29,999 (MRP 31,999) and comes in Just Black.