If you’re wondering whether to get the all-new Pixel 4a, or Google’s current flagship, this comparison may help you. In this article, we’ll compare the Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4. There is quite a price difference between them, and that price difference may not be worth paying, that’s what we’re here to figure out.
The Google Pixel 4a sure managed to impress our editor, as he praised the phone quite a bit in his review. We’ll compare this device to the Pixel 4 across a number of categories, to try and figure out if it’s a better buy, or not.
We’ll kick things off by listing the specs of both devices. Following that, we’ll move to the design, display, performance, and several other categories. All in all, this should be a rather interesting comparison, so, let’s dig in, shall we.
|Google Pixel 4a||Google Pixel 4|
|Screen size||5.81-inch fullHD+ OLED display||5.7-inch fullHD+ Smooth Display (flexible OLED, 90Hz)|
|Screen resolution||2340 x 1080||2280 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Storage||128GB, non-expandable||64GB/128GB; Non-Expandable|
|Rear cameras||12.2MP (f/1.7 aperture, 27mm lens, 1.4um pixel size, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)||12.2MP (1.4um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture, 77-degree angle lens, PDAF, OIS, EIS)|
16MP (1.0um pixel size, f/2.4 aperture, 52-degree angle lens, OIS, EIS, PDAF)
|Front cameras||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)||8MP (1.22um pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 90-degree angle lens, fixed focus)|
|Battery||3,140mAh, non-removable, 18W fast battery charging||2,800mAh, Non-Removable, 18W Fast Battery Charging (USB-PD 2.0), Qi wireless charging|
|Dimensions||144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm||147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2mm|
|Weight||143 grams||162 grams|
|Connectivity||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||Rear-facing fingerprint scanner||IR-based facial scanning, Titan M module|
|OS||Android 10||Android 10|
Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4: Design
You can easily notice that the two devices are made by the same OEM, but they are quite different in the design department. The Google Pixel 4a has a unibody build, and it’s made out of polycarbonate (plastic). The Pixel 4, on the other hand, comes with a metal frame, and a glass back.
The Google Pixel 4 does feel like a more premium phone, but it’s also more slippery. On top of that, it’s heavier than the Pixel 4a, which is also something you can feel in the hand. It’s heavier, despite the fact it has a smaller display. The polycarbonate build may actually be a better call for some people, not only because you’ll get a lighter and less slippery phone, but because it’ll resist drops better than glass.
The Google Pixel 4a does feel better in the hand, due to its curved back, though the Pixel 4 is not far behind. The Google Pixel 4a has thinner bezels than its more expensive sibling, but it also comes with a display camera hole which is not present on the Google Pixel 4. Their rear camera module is placed in the same spot, though the Pixel 4a has less camera sensors. The Pixel 4a is shorter and wider than the Pixel 4, while they’re equally thick. The Pixel 4a also has a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, while the Pixel 4 doesn’t have it at all.
Both of these phones offer a really nice build, and it’s up to you what you prefer. If you want a more premium-feeling smartphone, the Pixel 4 is for you. If you want a phone that is less slippery, and more resistant to drops, the Pixel 4a is a better call.
Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4: Display
Both the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4 feature fullHD+ OLED displays. These displays are not identical, though. The Google Pixel 4a comes with a larger, 5.81-inch fullHD+ (2340 x 1080) display. The Pixel 4 sports a 5.7-inch fullHD+ (2280 x 1080) panel. Both of those displays are flat.
They do offer different aspect ratios, as you can see, 19.5:9 vs 19:9. On top of that, their refresh rates are different. The Google Pixel 4a has a 60Hz refresh rate, while the Pixel 4 offers a 90Hz refresh rate. On top of that, the protection on top of these two displays is also different. The Pixel 4a comes with Gorilla Glass 3, while the Pixel 4 offers Gorilla Glass 5. Both phones can reproduce HDR content.
Now, in real life, both displays are quite vibrant. Blacks are deep on both, as expected, and they both look really nice overall. Viewing angles are also really good on both. If not for the difference in the refresh rate, the two panels would be almost identical to the naked eye. That refresh rate does make a difference, though. Scrolling is smoother on the Pixel 4, and so is everything else that supports the 90Hz refresh rate. To most people, however, that won’t make a huge difference. The Pixel 4 does have an edge thanks to its refresh rate, though.
Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4: Performance
When it comes to performance, they both perform really well. The Google Pixel 4 is technically a more powerful smartphone, though, and that is noticeably in some high-end games. Other than that, in regular use, they both perform admirably. We’re sure that the Pixel 4 will keep on performing great for a longer period of time, though, due to its more powerful SoC.
The Pixel 4a is not a slouch by any means, as it offers a solid mid-range processor. Too bad Google didn’t go with the Snapdragon 765 here, but there you have it. When it comes to regular day-to-day use, most users will be hard-pressed to notice the difference between these two smartphones. That is quite admirable considering the price difference.
Multitasking, opening apps, browsing, taking photos, and everything else is pretty much on the same level here. You may notice that the Pixel 4 opens games / apps a bit faster, or something like that, but that’s not something that should bother you. It sure is not something that will bother most people. The same can be said about an occasional hiccup in performance.
Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4: Battery
Ah… the battery performance. The Google Pixel 4 was regarded to be one of the worst-performing phones in the battery life department when it launched last year. Google did improve that via software optimizations to a degree, but it’s still pretty bad. Can the same be said for the Google Pixel 4a? Well, no, luckily. The Google Pixel 4a actually has pretty solid battery life. It’s not the best we’ve seen, not even close, but it’ll be enough for most people.
Based on our testing, the Google Pixel 4a can provide you around 6 hours of screen-on-time in a single day before you’ll be forced to grab the charger. Your mileage may vary, of course. The Pixel 4, on the other hand, is considerably worse than that, it goes up to 4-4.5 hours at the most, based on our usage.
The difference in battery life is over 300mAh. The Google Pixel 4a comes with a 3,140mAh battery, while the Pixel 4 includes a 2,800mAh unit. The Pixel 4a could do with a bigger battery as well, to be quite honest, but Google did a good job optimizing this one, it seems. Both phones do support 18W fast wired charging, while the Pixel 4 also supports wireless charging. If you want a phone with better battery life, though, get the Pixel 4a.
Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 4: Cameras
It’s not exactly a secret that the Google Pixel 4 is still one of the best camera smartphones around. What about the Pixel 4a, though? Well, you’re getting pretty much the same camera experience here, at least as far as the main camera is concerned. The Pixel 4a does not have the secondary telephoto camera like the Pixel 4. Photos are extremely similar, they even look identical in some scenarios. That actually goes for low light as well.
Thanks to Google’s Night Sight mode, and the company’s processing, low light photos end up looking great. They do look unrealistic, to a degree, but also great. Google loves its dramatic dynamic range during the day as well, which is a good thing if that’s your thing, as photos end up looking great and vibrant. All in all, if you’ve been wondering to get the Pixel 4a for its camera, do it, you’ll get basically the same experience as on the Pixel 4 for the most part (not counting telephoto images)… it’s worth it.
When it comes to audio, the Pixel 4a comes with a perk some of you will love. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike the Pixel 4. If you don’t care about that, that’s fine, but the Pixel 4a also comes with Bluetooth 5.1 compared to Bluetooth 5.0 on the Pixel 4. So it has an edge in that regard as well.
In terms of speakers, both offer stereo speakers. We don’t know if Google used the same speakers or not, but they do sound somewhat similar. They’re not the best stereo speakers out there, not even by a long shot, but not many people will have complaints here. They do get moderately loud, and even though the sound is not the crispest we’ve heard, they’ll serve you just fine.