Google hit hard this year with no less than three new smartphones: the Pixel 4a , the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 . The first and last were given their test, so now is the time to focus on the Pixel 4a 5G and answer an important question: does this device hold more of a Pixel 4a XL or a Pixel? 5 Lite?
The Pixel 4a was the first. Positioned in a rather mid-range segment, its main asset is its excellent quality / price ratio. We saw it in its test, but it is clearly the best camera phone under the € 350 mark.
The Pixel 5, it occupies the top of the basket with a price which remains however controlled. It costs only 629 €, but that does not prevent it from playing on a par with the iPhone 12 Pro in the field of photography.
But in between, we have a third device. A third way: the Pixel 4a 5G.
And as we will see throughout this test, in the end, its main flaw is its name.
Design & Ergonomics
Before being a great communication / entertainment / creation tool, the smartphone is an object. An object that we have become accustomed to proudly displaying whenever possible.
And precisely, before seeing what the innards of the Pixel 4a 5G offer, we will start by taking a look at its design and ergonomics.
The Pixel 4a 5G clearly does not betray the spirit of the range and it thus looks like two drops of water to the Pixel 4a, with dimensions a little more generous.
Like the latter, and just like the Pixel 5, the device therefore inherits a screen with contained borders. No notch in sight, Google preferred to opt for a punch, a punch in which was housed a single front camera. By extension, this also means that the terminal ignores secure recognition.
Interesting detail, the chin of the Pixel 4a 5G is a bit more pronounced than that of the Pixel 5 and it would therefore seem that only the latter was entitled to a curved tablecloth under its slab.
Do you remember the resinous back of the Pixel 5 that I loved so much? The Pixel 4a 5G unfortunately overlooks it, to be content with a plain plastic back in the same vein as its little brother. A back in the middle of which has been integrated a very effective fingerprint reader.
The Google logo also responds to this, the same for the square photo module. Module which will combine this time two sensors and two optics, against a single sensor and a single lens for the Pixel 4a.
The ergonomics of the Pixel 4a 5G align with that of the other two models. All buttons are placed on the right edge and the power button is also tinted white. The headphone jack is also present, as is the USB-C connector.
Detail which is important, the Pixel 4a 5G has two speakers and the top one is not placed under the screen as on the Pixel 5, but above. The sound will therefore not be muffled. Note also that the speakers are of very good quality, with a rich sound and a nice spatialization. Enough in any case to satisfy multimedia enthusiasts.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
The Pixel 4a 5G acts as a bit of an intermediary between the Pixel 4a on one side and the Pixel 5 on the other. However, we will see that he has some good surprises in store for us on a technical level.
The screen reaches a diagonal of 6.2 inches. It is therefore larger than the one on board the Pixel 4a and the one on the Pixel 5. The technology has not changed.
We therefore remain on OLED, with a definition in Full HD + and a 19.5: 9 format, which translates into a pixel density of 413 ppi.
The panel is also HDR compatible and it is of good quality. Enough in any case to allow us to watch our films and our series. A use in which the Pixel 4a 5G excels, in particular thanks to its size. It doesn't look like much, but the additional 0.2 inches of its panel is ultimately a game-changer, and the same goes for its speakers.
On the other hand, unlike the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a 5G does not have a 90 Hz screen, but 60 Hz. For standard use, this will change absolutely nothing. On the Pixel 5, 90Hz didn't kick in all the time anyway, and Android 11's animations are smooth enough to keep the experience the same.
Now in fast games you can clearly see the difference. Players who are adept of this type will therefore have every interest in turning to the Pixel 5. Or to make this very small sacrifice.
Because in terms of raw power, the two devices are very close to each other anyway. They both inherit a Snapdragon 765G made up of 8 cores and the only difference here is in the amount of onboard RAM: the Pixel 5 goes up to 8 GB, against 6 GB for the Pixel 4a 5G. As for the internal memory, it remains fixed at 128 GB, without the possibility of extending it, but with unlimited storage of photos on Google Photos.
So yes, there is a 2GB RAM gap, but frankly I didn't see any difference. It should be remembered, but unlike other Android smartphones, the Pixels are indeed devoid of overlay.
In terms of autonomy, on the other hand, on paper the Pixel 4a 5G goes a little less far with a battery of 3,885 mAh against 4,080 mAh for the Pixel 5. But as I said, the panel remains on 60 Hz and it therefore consumes less. In the end, I therefore did not see a big difference between the two models and my Pixel 4a 5G held on average between a day and a day and a half.
I also ran PC Mark on it, and this time it hit 2.30pm, compared to 1.30pm for the Pixel 5 in 90Hz and 3pm in 60Hz.
Afterwards, just like with the Pixel 5, what bothered me the most in the end was the fast charge… which is not super fast. We are on 18 W and quite frankly, for me, in our time, it is not enough.
Photo & Video
The Pixel 5, as we have seen, is one of the best cameras on the market, and whatever DxOMark says. And you know what ? Well the Pixel 4a 5G inherits the same photo module.
We therefore have a module made up of two sensors and two optics.
The main sensor reaches 12.2 mpx and it inherits Dual Pixel technology, with the added bonus of a wide angle opening at f / 1.7 and an autofocus with phase detection, not to mention the dual optical and electronic stabilization.
The second sensor for its part in the 16 mpx and this time it is accompanied by an ultra wide angle opening at f / 2.2.
Like its illustrious big brother, the Pixel 4a 5G therefore skips the telephoto lens and is content with a digital zoom. Now Google's software processing allows it to compensate for this lack.
By day, the Pixel 4a 5G is therefore able to output very detailed images, with a sharpness that commands respect, beautiful textures and a fairly wide dynamic, whether in highlights or shadows.
The colorimetry is still so natural and the terminal is also able to restore a beautiful depth of field. He can sometimes be a bit heavy when it comes to clipping, but that doesn't make him less efficient. The same goes for the autofocus which did not disappoint me, even with very mobile subjects.
At night, you will inevitably lose quality, but not as much as you might think. Thanks to its excellent software processing, the Pixel 4a 5G will indeed manage to limit the appearance of artefacts and maintain a beautiful impression of sharpness. Ditto for the dynamic which remains impressive for a smartphone.
The colorimetry remains natural, with a controlled white balance.
The outlines sometimes tend to drool a bit, but the images will still be usable.
As for the astrophotography mode, it is quite simply formidable. Once the Pixel 4a 5G, we can indeed reach exposure times of several minutes, which will allow it to recover a maximum of light. And with Google's software processing behind it, it will therefore be able to output truly exceptional images.
We talked about it earlier, but the Pixel 4a 5G, like the Pixel 5, only offers two real focal lengths: wide angle and ultra wide angle.
In both cases, very good image quality is retained, with consistent colors and convincing dynamics. Interestingly, the software processing manages to limit the distortions on the ultra wide angle.
The fully digital zoom is also doing very well, as long as it does not exceed 2x. Beyond that, the competitions will indeed tend to drool. The same goes for textures, and at the same time you will lose a lot of sharpness.
The Pixel 4a 5G is a great portrait machine. Google has opted for natural colors and we keep a very nice feeling of sharpness. The same goes for the dynamic, very efficient.
The blur is pretty good, but I still noticed some clipping issues on the most complex scenes, especially on the hair.
Nothing to say in particular about selfies, except that they stick to reality. The generated images are stitched and we keep a beautiful dynamic as well as a natural colorimetry.
I said this before in my Pixel 5 test, but Google chose not to smooth the lines and that's a very good thing.
The Pixel 4a 5G also offers a lot of pretty things on the video side. It can thus film in 4K at 60 frames per second and it is even able to achieve slow motion.
Quality level, there are some good and some not so good. We keep neutral colors and correct sharpness, but I noticed some artifacts in the shadows on some sequences.
Big job on the other hand on stabilization. It is very effective and you can even choose between several types of stabilization.
You know if you've watched his review, but the Pixel 5 was a real eye opener for me.
This little phone completely charmed me, as much for its size as for its photo capabilities.
And precisely, after all these weeks spent in the company of the Pixel 4a 5G, there is an idea that has finally won. For me, this phone's biggest flaw is ultimately its name.
In my eyes, the Pixel 4a 5G is ultimately closer to a Pixel 5 Lite than a Pixel 4a XL. It is compatible with 5G, it has a very beautiful screen and a fast chip and it also inherits the photo mode of the Pixel 5.
So of course, we lose 90 Hz, but we gain a larger screen and better speakers, which ultimately makes the Pixel 4a 5G a very nice alternative to the Pixel 5. Even more at its price since it is offered at 499 €. A price he fully deserves.