Pixel helps you stay connected to friends and family around the globe. Capture and share moments that matter most with a camera inspired by the pros.
The amazing camera that just keeps getting better.
The brilliant Pixel camera lets you take vibrant photos even in the dark with Night Sight. And bring studio-quality light to your pictures of people with Portrait Light.
A great view. No matter where you are.
Equipped with a 6.0" Full HD+ OLED display with a high-brightness mode that's optimized for watching videos in direct sunlight. So you get a great experience watching your favorite YouTuber in the park or on the bus.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor
A Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 8GB of RAM gets you the help you need, fast - for a lot less than you'd expect.
Compatible with all major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Also compatible with prepaid carriers including Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Google Fi, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, Tracfone, Net10, Mint, and H2O.
128GB of storage.**
Enjoy plenty of storage space for your contacts, music, apps and more.
Built for security, inside and out.
Automatically receive the latest OS and security updates for at least 3 years.*** And the custom-made Titan M chip helps secure the operating system and sensitive data, like passwords.
*Requires a 5G data plan (sold separately). Not compatible with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Network. 5G service not available on all carrier networks or in all areas.
Contact carrier for details. 5G service, speed and performance depend on many factors including, but not limited to, carrier network capabilities, device configuration and capabilities, network traffic, location, signal strength and signal obstruction.
Actual results may vary. Some features not available in all areas. Data rates may apply. See g.co/pixel/networkinfo for info.
**Storage specifications refer to capacity before formatting. Actual formatted capacity will be less.
***Android version updates for at least 3 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the US. See g.co/pixel/updates for details.
****Sim Card not included
18W Power Adapter, USB-C
1M USB-C to USB-C Cable (USB2.0 Cable)
USB-C to USB-A Quick switch adapter (USB2.0 Adapter)
*** Summary ***
For $500, you’re getting a superb mid-range phone with a thoughtful balance of hardware components coupled with excellent software directly from Google. The three cameras take top-level photos and videos, and the screen is big, bright, and crisp for an enjoyable multimedia and reading experience. With support for both 4G and 5G connectivity, as well as three years of software updates from Google, the phone is more future-proof than most competing devices. It’s a great bang-for-your-buck and a 5-star win!
-The 6.2" OLED screen is great for videos and games.
-All three cameras take good pictures and videos.
-Google finally added a wide-lens camera on the back!
-The phone is consistently responsive and performant.
-The 128GB base storage is UFS 2.1 (i.e., fast).
-With built-in 5G support, you won't get left behind later.
-Has a 3.5mm audio jack.
-The 3,800mAh battery offers great endurance.
-Comes with 3 years of software support & Pixel-exclusive features.
-Still no micro-SD card support.
-No wireless charging.
-No water-resistance with an IP rating.
-The camera cut-out leads to a thick top status bar empty space when watching videos.
-The camera auto-focus is a bit slow and gets it wrong once in a while.
-No other color choices besides black.
-The slow-motion video at 720p looks bad.
=== Design, Build Quality, and Specs ===
The Pixel 4a 5G, like the Pixel 3a mid-range phone from last year, is a simply-looking and unassuming device. The Pixel 4a exudes a clean look, has soft and rounded corners and sides for a comfortable and ergonomic feel in-hand, and although it’s heavily plastic, the fit-and-finish is excellent with no blemishes. Everything from the port to the speaker cut-outs, alignment and texture of the buttons on the right side, the rear camera hump, the slightly recessed fingerprint reader on the back, and all of the seams between the front glass and the phone casing are meticulously even. Although it doesn’t feel “premium” in-hand due to no metal or hardened glass on the back, the plastic material is of higher-than-average quality and it’s dense, smooth, and offers some grip. If the Pixel 4a 5G were a >$800 almost-flagship level phone, I would expect and want more. But at the $500 level, the build materials and quality are more than just fine, especially if you’re just going to put a case on it after the initial unboxing adoration and feel-over sessions are over. :)
I’m quite satisfied with the hardware I’m getting at this price point - a Snapdragon 765G SOC with 6GB of RAM (fast and responsive), 6.2” OLED screen (bright and big), 128GB UFS 2.1 storage (fast file transfers and loading times), 4G & 5G radios (future-proof), a fingerprint sensor (fast and consistent), and three excellent cameras (12.2MP main rear, 16MP ultra-wide rear, 8MP front).
Do I wish the Pixel 4a 5G offered more? Sure, like wireless charging, an IP water-resistance rating, Wi-Fi 6, and a higher screen refresh rate like 90Hz or 120Hz. But those things would’ve added hundreds of dollars more to the cost and, frankly, they’re nice extras to have but not absolute necessities.
Looking over the design, build quality, and hardware specs of the Pixel 4a 5G, I think Google performed an excellent balancing act when finalizing the phone for this price point.
=== Hardware & Software Performance ===
The performance and responsiveness levels of the Pixel 4a 5G are nothing to write home about but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was, especially when compared to my Pixel 3a and Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G. When the Pixel 4a 5G was put through some benchmarks against the Pixel 3a, it was 70% faster in Geekbench 5 single-core and 30% faster in multi-core. 3DMark Wildlife gave the Pixel 4a 5G a 55% win in both the total score and frame rates. PCMark 2.0 Work 2.0 gave only a slight edge to the Pixel 4a 5G (15%) but the PCMark Storage test saw a huge improvement of 49% (most likely due to UFS 2.1).
These benchmark numbers, when translated into real-life usage, meant that the Pixel 4a 5G felt much more responsive, snappier, and faster than the Pixel 3a, and not too much slower than my Galaxy S20+ during normal usage (web browsing, watching videos, social media, texting, multi-tasking, etc). When playing graphic-intensive games, however, the Pixel 4a 5G got smoked by the Galaxy S20+, as expected. If you aren’t a hardcore smartphone gamer, then this is a non-issue.
The phone came preloaded with the latest Android 11 operating system and it’s clean-looking, intuitive, and responsive. Compared to more feature-heavy OS’s like Samsung’s OneUI 2.5, there are fewer bells and whistles, which some may bemoan. For instance, I was frustrated that I couldn’t even create folders inside the app drawer or hide app icons. Thankfully, installing 3rd-party launchers is still an option so I swapped to Novalauncher after putting up with the default launcher for three days.
Google may not offer many out-of-the-box customization options in general but it offers some Pixel-exclusive features that are quite nice, such as Automatic Call Screening, the most advanced version of Google Assistant AI, and the fancy Recorder app for voice transcriptions and note-taking.
Besides the lack of customization options from the default launcher, there is nothing else I can fault about Android 11 on the Pixel 4a 5G. It’s fast, stable, and intuitive to use with no major bugs.
=== Connectivity ===
The main selling point of the Pixel 4a 5G over the Pixel 4a and other mid-range devices is that it has 5G connectivity. After testing out 5G over both Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, I walked away both impressed and sort of underwhelmed. I was pleasantly surprised by the reliability and signal strength of 5G around me but I was disappointed that my speeds didn’t improve by much and felt like regular 4G LTE. 5G is still actively rolling out so I’m expecting things to get more exciting later.
=== Camera & Video Quality ===
Just as I expected, photos and videos taken from the Pixel 4a 5G were highly satisfactory and competent. The colors were accurate with good dynamic range, and Google’s AI wizardry captured the subject matter with great focus and detail. I turn on HDR mode at all times and Google’s algorithm did a fantastic job highlighting the differences in contrast while preserving natural colors and small details. Google has created a great camera system and I feel confident that most people will be 100% satisfied by its quality and consistency.
My only gripes are that once in a while, the auto-focus loses track of my subject resulting in a blurry shot (for both photos and videos), and that low-light photo processing times feel a bit too long, resulting in missed opportunities. I’m hopeful that Google will release app updates to improve these areas.
=== Is it a good buy? ===
Yes! If you’re set on spending no more than $500 for a smartphone, then the Pixel 4a 5G is a very compelling choice with good value. You get a decent set of hardware that offers good performance and long battery life, excellent cameras, and the latest version of Android OS and Pixel exclusives straight from Google for three years guaranteed. With 128GB of fast internal storage, 5G connectivity, and a big and bright 6.2” screen, I think it’s both a sensible and worthy investment.
To start off, all the technical information regarding the Pixel 4a 5G can be found at Google’s store website. Some of the more detailed info can be found at various websites as well with a simple search. It’ll help to better understand some of the things mentioned here. For easier reference, I’ll be using “4a5G” to refer to the Google Pixel 4a 5G.
The 4a5G positions itself between the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 5. The reason is because of the phone’s support for 5G carrier signals. While you do pay a price premium over the Pixel 4a ($150 worth), the cost is a little more than just 5G support.
Physically, the 4a5G is a tad larger than the Pixel 5, Google’s latest and highest end model for 2020. While the screen looks good despite a slightly less pixel density (and due to a slightly bigger screen), it lacks the high refresh rate (90Hz) that the Pixel 5 offers. However, the majority of people looking into getting a new phone are using phones that have standard 60Hz screens. Missing out on the 90Hz refresh rate would not be an issue. The biggest disappointment would definitely be the screen glass. The 4a5G uses Gorilla Glass 3 whereas the majority of 2020 phones, uses newer Gorilla Glass 5 (and the high-end using Gorilla Glass 6). Newer iterations of the glass are designed to be more resistant to breaking or cracking on impact, something that tends to happen often enough that people put a screen protector regardless of how good it is. And because it is using an older iteration, it’s recommended to get a protector as soon as possible as well as a decent phone case.
Inside, the hardware is almost identical to the fancier Pixel 5. There is 6GB of RAM compared to the 5’s 8GB. I also question this as a cost cutting measure. While there is a definite need to differentiate itself from the 5, memory should not be one of them. Software will always grow in complexity and maturity. And in order to bring out the best of the apps that we use, more memory is better. It also helps in keeping some apps open in the background so we can return to it later, saving us a little bit of time because the phone doesn’t need to load the entire app into memory again. I would rather not sacrifice memory to justify meeting the MSRP target.
Another piece missing is wireless charging. While many people may not care much for wireless charging, you cannot deny that it is becoming a common feature in phones at various price points. The lack of wireless charging is a minus given that Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 even has it, and that costs a single Benjamin less than the 4a5G.
Lastly, the phone lacks water resistance (or a water resistance certified rating). I think this is a major minus these days because of how we take our phones virtually everywhere. And there’s always that off chance the phone may end up taking a dip in the water. With no certified IP rating for water resistance, it means that bringing the phone to the pool, your bathroom, or wherever is very risky. Again, the fruity competitor’s phone comes with water resistance yet cost less. This is a big no-no for me if you need a practical phone that you can take with you.
For the past several years, Google has carved a spot in creating the best photos with a phone camera. In the years since its first Pixel phone release, the competition has had time to catch up. Now the gap in image quality and color accuracy has shrunk. It’s to the point where the competition can come close or match what the Pixel phones can do. However, the difference is that you may end up paying more for that competing picture quality. The great thing about Google’s camera system is that the hardware hasn’t changed but rather it’s the software that continues to improve.
Of the sample photos I’ve taken, the image quality is what I’ve come to expect from Google. The colors are good and the image quality, even in low light, are excellent. Portrait photos taken on the selfie front facing camera is great and recognizes the edges around me well. The only disappointment is perhaps the decision or quality on the wide angle lens. Even though it is supposed to provide a bigger/wider view, the sample photos I’ve taken with its Night Sight feature turned out to be worse. Taking wide angle shots with ample lighting didn’t appear to exhibit this odd quirk/flaw. Seeing that the majority of use cases for wide angle photography will be taken with ample lighting, perhaps this is a non-issue.
On video recording, I did not see any problem when taking a quick recording. The video stabilization also makes panning your shots smooth. It also can handle 4k 60fps recording which is a nice bonus. Recording at 1080p is limited to either 30fps or 60fps. I’ll nitpick here and say that Google should allow 120fps recording at 1080p since the phone is capable of handling 4k 60fps. At least it’s nice seeing that it can handle 4k 60fps.
I should not be pointing this out as a feature, as I still hold a grudge with Google on their decisions with the headphone jack. It is there for people who still use the tried and true headphones of their choice. It is convenient as it allows people to use the headphones of choice while also charging at the same time.
One of the best aspects of a Google Pixel phone is how smooth the experience is. There is no carrier-specific bloatware. No duplicate apps like a certain other major Android phone maker. It is the purest Android experience. Setting up the phone is straightforward and guides you through the steps. Once it’s done, you’re left with a clean home screen and the basic default apps to get started. Having used Android for many years, it has become second nature for me to know how to navigate around it. The experience is just like how I remembered -- smooth, flexible, and customizable. And the perk of using a Pixel phone is being the first to get security updates as well as major Android updates. But comparing it to a certain fruity competitor, Google still falls way short in this regard. That competitor is able to support hardware that dates back 5 years, which is 2 years longer than Google’s offering. Google should provide the same level of support if it wants to be competitive in the smartphone market. Aside from that, there are things within its stock Android software that sets it apart from other Android phones -- Pixel specific features. There's one that I tried for the first time on a Pixel phone -- call screening. It allows you to let Google Assistant to answer the call for you and transcribe in real time so you don't have to answer it yourself. And if the call is legit, you can pick it up and speak to the caller yourself. It's one of the perks to owning a Pixel phone that makes it worthwhile to have.
Testing the phone’s 5G capability has been rather tricky and at times difficult. Attempting to test this at home turned out to be a bad idea. For a baseline reference, 4G LTE speed varies between 20-30Mbps for download speed and 1.5 to 5Mbps for upload. This was done using T-Mobile’s network. At home, speeds vary between 45Mbps to 57Mbps for download and 3Mbps to 4.8Mbps for upload. To me that’s a very small gain and didn’t seem indicative of what 5G is supposed to be. On the way back from a small errand, I ran a single speed test. The result is 159Mbps for download and 16.3Mbps for upload. This is a drastic improvement and shows the potential for 5G. The wireless tech is still new and thus it will take time to proliferate and propagate. This isn’t to say that it’s not worth getting the phone for 5G. Rather, it’s a nice feature to have and adds a bit of future proofing to the phone. And conditions for 5G will only improve as time passes.
Overall, the Pixel 4a 5G is a nice phone that brings most of the basic necessities at an affordable price. However, I question the omission of water resistance and wireless charging as well as its use of Gorilla Glass 3 as the reason to differentiate itself from the flagship model. If a certain competitor is able to include wireless charging and water resistance at a lesser cost, I failed to see why it’s not included. Yet if you omit these flaws, the 4a 5G is a great phone for taking pictures without having to spend a lot. And with 3 years of major Android updates, the value becomes better and will help stem the need to upgrade the phone every so often.
The Good: Camera and image quality, stock Android, Pixel-only features, first to get major updates and monthly security patches, 3 years of major Android updates (from release date)
The Bad: old Gorilla Glass tech compared to other 2020 phones, 3 years of Android update vs 5+ years on Apple phone, no wireless charging, no water resistant rating/certification
The Ugly: Google’s design choices over the years
Verdict: Buy if you’re an Android user but it’s generally a coin flip to me
The Google Pixel 4a 5G is the next step up from the standard 4a and older 3a, with this model offering 5G (where available) and a slightly larger OLED screen at 6.2 inches (at 1080p resolution). With 128 gigs of storage (no card slot for more, though), 6 gigs of RAM, and a new Snapdragon 765G processor, you will see a bump in speed over the previous Pixel 3a for sure. While considered a mid-range processor and while the screen is 60hz in a time where many phone are updating to 90 or 120 hz screens, I still find everything to flow smoothly when using this new model. The OLED screen is very nice, showing true blacks and good viewing angles, with a noticeable bump in brightness over the Pixel 3a before it. Sound has received a boost as well with stereo speakers being louder than the previous model – a very welcome update. Charging is via USB-C but unfortunately, there is no wireless charging on this model (Boo).
There are now two cameras on the back of the Pixel 4a 5G – one is the standard 12.2 megapixel variant which is still excellent but hasn’t changed much in the last couple of versions of the Pixel series. A 16 megapixel extra-wide camera is now also on back, so you can get more into your photos as needed. HDR, high dynamic range, where you see more details in darker and lighter areas, has always been a strength in the Pixel line, and is just as excellent in these cameras, as well as the amount of detail captured in the photos. Details appear in the shadows without blown-out bright areas in most photos, which not all phone cameras are good at. The 8 megapixel front facing camera (now in the upper-corner of the front) is also very good, though not quite as wide angle as some may like. Portrait modes are available on the cameras. Again, while they haven’t evolved much, they haven’t really had to – they are still really, really, good cameras. Software offers Panoramic shots (which unfortunately I found only average, not showing as much detail as standard shots, a photo sphere feature, and Google Lens (to ID objects, etc). The built-in flash does a decent job when needed.
Movies can be taken in 1080p or 4K at 30 or 60 frames per second. Slower motion features offer faster frames in 1080p. While the still photo capability of the Pixel phones has been the or among the best of all smart phones for the last few years, I’m not quite as pleased with the video quality. It’s “ok”, but many times lacks details, and when zooming even a small amount, can get very pixelated very quick. Again, NOT the case with the still shots. If photos are your thing, this is a phone to strongly consider. If video is your top priority, there may be better options available.
I tested The 4a 5G out using Good Fi’s cell service. Call quality was good – the speaker and microphones had no problem allowing me to hear others clearly, and for them to hear me clearly as well. The 5G antenna kicked in when it detected service in the area(s) I was in, but even now it’s still hit-or-miss. The best 5G speed I clocked was at 103mbs download and only just above 12mbs upload – and those speeds varied greatly depending on whether I was inside, outside, what room I was in, or if I was near larger objects. So while 5G services in general have a way to go, the antennas in the phone itself for 5G as well as WiFi seemed to be strong and do just fine.
I can only find two things to gripe about on this phone: First, the fingerprint reader on the back is flush with the body, and sits near the camera module; it’s VERY hard to “feel” with your finger, much more so than the 3a was. I strongly suggest getting a case that has a raised area around the reader button so it help guide your finger to it (and provides extra grip). The second complaint is battery life; the 3885 mAh battery charges quick enough with the 18 watt charger that comes with the phone, but it drains pretty quickly – I dare say, it seems at least, to drain even more quickly than the 3a, which wasn’t great on it’s own. If you are a light to medium user, you can get through a standard work day with this, but if your use falls into the high-medium to high use category, you may want to have a battery bank, or chargers around to top off as the day progresses. Things may improve slightly as the battery conditions itself with multiple chargings, or if you turn off the always-on part of the display which shows you your time and notification icons (but that’s part of the convenience of this phone – having that on).
Phone makers are pushing the boundaries of price these days with some niche phones reaching close to the $2,000 mark (!!) and the average flagship phone being at or close to $1,000.00. So to find something with all of the features of the 4a 5G for an average price of $499 (often on sale further) is wonderful. For most people, I personally think this phone would be all they need so long as you do not have a very specific need for a very long-life battery or must have the very top processor for special games or apps that need it. Pixels get updates before all other Androids, and again, the camera (for photos) is still extremely hard to beat. Recommended.
I love the Google Pixel line! I've had the 3 and 3XL. I contemplated getting the 5 but decided to hold out and just get the 6 next. Takes beautiful pictures, which is what I got it for. Battery lasts all day. Storage is great and the option to back things up to the cloud makes it feel unlimited to me!
There are very minimal apps that it comes with, which I think is great.
There are some great things I really like about the Google phone platform. Their phones have minimal to no bloatware, the phone is the first to receive android updates, the cameras have always taken great photos. They seem to have pivoted with their strategy. They are no longer trying to compete with high end pricey phones, they would rather make a real solid mid-tier level mobile. This is one of those devices.
As a heavy Gmail user this phone seamlessly works with everything google offers. The apps all sync wonderfully together. Mail syncs to my calendar, documents to the drive/cloud, and lots of other things that make a super smooth experience. Love that they included the fingerprint reader. It's always a faster unlock than facial recognition with zero fails.
Here's a strange issue I personally found. The screen doesn't get dark enough. For those bedtime moments when everyone uses their phone, the one's where all the lights are off and the phone is the only source of illumination, it just doesn't go low enough for my liking. But not a common issue for most people. Brightness isn't an issue, even in direct sunlight. Sound comes in loud and punchy.
The crowning jewel of the phone has to be the 5G ability. So much faster than 4G LTE. Downloaded a 2.5 Gb file from my Google drive, took well less than a minute to download. This device habitually tests at around 80- 100mbps speed in areas I got 5G coverage (see attached photo). Heck, I can hot spot my Chromebook and at times it's faster than my home internet. Battery life is pretty good to. A day of heavy use with hot spot and Bluetooth running, I still had 60sih percent battery left.
Today it seems like phone users want great photos and long battery life. Not that this is all they look for but they are always at the top of most people's checklist in a phone. I can say that this device offers both.
This phone is overall a bunch of positive aspects, but there are a couple of drawbacks. First, the good. The 5G speed is quite impressive, with a download speed of over 60 Mbps! This, combined with a zippy processor and more than adequate memory makes using this phone a pleasure. This will allow you to blow past your data cap quicker than ever. The built-in speakers are also excellent giving great sound quality and volume for the size. The camera is also impressive, with great low-light performance. In the dark, the preview looks terrible and grainy, when the picture is taken, the results are better than other phones that I have used. My previous phone was a Moto Z4, and this phone is an overall improvement (although the Moto does do marginally better at zooming while in daylight.
But there are a few negatives with this phone. First is the complete lack of a micro-SD card slot. The included 128GB is generous, but upgrade is not possible. The second issue is the complete lack of an FM radio tuner. Finally, wireless charging would have been nice to include. If none of these issues are a problem, then I can heartily recommend this unit.
My OG Pixel could not keep a charge and it was time for an upgrade. I have had this phone for a day and everything is great. The phone is very speedy, everything is just fast. Screen is nice, camera is really good. Speakers are solid. No wireless charging like the Pixel 5 and the body is not glass. So if you want those, you will have to purchase the Pixel 5. Those were not dealbreakers for me.
The analysis of all aggregated expert reviews shows that the reviewers are positive about size, connectivity, battery and performance. Editors are less positive about sound and design and have mixed opinions about durability. Using an algorithm based on product age, reviewers ratings history, popularity, product category expertise and other factors, this product gets an alaTest Expert Rating of 95/100 = Excellent quality.
The US unlocked Pixel 4a 5G works on all major carrier networks but is not compatible with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network. Contact your carrier for details and see g.co/pixel/networkinfo for more information.
A:AnswerI'm using this phone with Mint Mobile (which uses T-Mobile's network), and I've had no issues whatsoever.
I should imagine you wouldn't have any issues if you're signed up with T-Mobile themselves.