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Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

The Google Pixel 4a 5G is a superb phone for the money.

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know
14 October 2020

It feels a little strange reviewing the Pixel 4a with 5G. After such a wait in the UK for the Pixel 4a to launch, having its successor in our reviews lab mere weeks later is quite odd.

The good news is, the phone is a joy to play with and Google has made significant changes to the device. This has made sure that the Google Pixel 4a is still a viable option for those who don't yet want to jump on the 5G bandwagon.

Where the Pixel 4a 5G stands in the new Google Pixel line-up all depends on how you class things. If you do it by size, then it's the biggest on show, with a 6.2 inch screen. If it's done in terms of features then this is the mid-range general, falling just behind the newly launched Google Pixel 5 in terms of premium specs (but only just) and striding ahead of the Pixel 4a, thanks to its 5G capabilities.

Here are 5 things to know about the Google Pixel 4a 5G...

1. It's a Pixel phone for those who want a bigger screen

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

The Pixel 4XL was the big-screen Pixel 4, so nomenclature aside, the Pixel 4a 5G feels like that handset's natural successor. The 6.2-inch screen is bright and certainly big enough, with a 60Hz refresh rate. Compare this to the likes of more flagship phones that are now packing 120Hz and it's definitely a phone that's sitting in the midrange.

The screen was perfectly good for the tasks we put it through, though. We weren't using the phone for hardcore gaming so didn't need the refresh rate to be buttery smooth - and 60Hz is more than enough to switch through apps and the like without facing any judder.

2. It is very different from the Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

Those looking for a purely 'like for like' switch with the Pixel 4a, with just the addition of 5G, will be disappointed here as this isn't just a 5G-infused Pixel 4a.

Again, the naming convention makes it a little confusing but it has the already mentioned bigger screen, as well as a more powerful processor. This is mainly due to the fact that there is 5G on board, so the processor has been upped to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G - this is the same processor found in the Google Pixel 5G.

Then there's the bigger battery. It's not as big as what is found on the Pixel 5, though, and an additional 8MP ultra-wide camera.

3. The camera tech is great, but we've seen it before

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

The Google Pixel 4a 5G has two lenses on the back, compared to just one on the Pixel 4a. These camera's are a 12MP dual pixel lens and a 16MP ultra-wide lens. This is the same camera technology that's in the Pixel 5 and it's still superb, even if Google has been using the tech for a while now.

It's more about the software with Google's cameras, though, and its Night Sight, we reckon, is still top of the class.

4. Charging is fast but not wireless

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

Charging on the Pixel 4a 5G comes in the form of 18W fast charging - this isn't the quickest we have used but it's good to have it on board. We did miss the wireless charging that comes with the Google Pixel 5, though. We understand this is more of a premium feature but it would have been nice for them to have added it to this phone that has both the bigger screen and a healthier battery capacity than the Pixel 4a.

5. Performance and looks are decent, for the price

Google Pixel 4a 5G review: 5 things to know

The Pixel 4a 5G's polycarbonate shell feels really nice to touch and a lot more premium than what was found on the Pixel 4. It hasn't got the robustness of a glass handset but it does a good job of us thinking the phone is worth more than it actually is.

With the 6.2 inch screen, it sometimes feels like you aren't holding a Pixel at all, given Pixel users are used to a smaller size. It's never unwieldy, though, as it's a really light phone to hold at just 168g.

When it comes to performance, we are never not going to love a pure Android experience - and Android 11 is fantastic to use. There were no grumbles when using the phone for Netflix and doom scrolling on Twitter. The 60Hz refresh rate is fine for this, as is the 6GB of RAM.

Google Pixel 4a 5G Final Verdict

There is a lot to love about the Google Pixel 4a 5G, except for the name. It doesn't really do the phone justice. It's much more like the Google Pixel 5 than the 4a, except it's missing things like wireless charging and it has a reduced Hz on the screen.

It's a great phone, regardless, just one that sits in that uneasy middle ground between the £100 more premium Google Pixel 5 and super-cheap Pixel 4a. If you are looking for a £499 phone, though, then this one certainly won't disappoint.

The Pixel 4a with 5G is available from the Google Store for £499.