The Google Pixel 4a is the easiest phone to recommend in 2020, and that’s saying a lot. It was fairly easy to choose the Pixel 4a as the best budget smartphone this year.
The Google Pixel 3a was one of the best budget smartphones of 2019, and its successor nailed it a year later. The Google Pixel 4a offers great value at its price tag. Speaking of which, that price tag is not that high at all. The phone’s launch price tag is $349, which is a lot less than you’d pay for a flagship. This phone is essentially three times more affordable than a top-grade flagship smartphone these days. Is it three times worse? Well, no, not even close, which makes it a real easy purchasing recommendation.
This is the phone I usually always recommend people buy first, as long as it’s within their budget, and available where they live. Why? Well, the phone doesn’t really fail in any of the major categories for a smartphone. It has one of the best cameras on the market, while its display is good enough. It’s quite compact, so that even people with smaller hands can use it, while its build quality is good. On top of all that, the phone doesn’t disappoint in the performance or battery categories either. Therefore, it’s our pick for the best budget smartphone of 2020, and a worthy receiver of the belonging award.
Its performance is much better than you may think
The Google Pixel 4a does not come with high-end hardware, not at all. The phone is equipped with the mid-range Snapdragon 730G SoC, while it also utilizes 6GB of RAM. On some phones, that combination may not be great for performance, but that’s not the case here. The Snapdragon 730G is a really good processor, and 6GB of RAM is plenty for everyday tasks… presuming that the software is optimized properly. That is the case on the Pixel 4a. Google did a great job with Android 11, and it shines on the Pixel 4a.
The phone flies through everyday tasks. Is it as far as some flagships out there, well, no, but most people will struggle to notice that. I switched from a top-end flagship to the Pixel 4a, which I’ve been using for over a month now, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I am usually the one who nitpicks when it comes to performance and everything, which is a testament to this phone. The Pixel 4a is not made for gaming, so if you do plan on doing some processor-intensive gaming or something of the sort, chances are you’re not considering this device anyway. For everything else, the phone performs like a champ.
Solid display & battery life
The Google Pixel 4a does not offer a high refresh rate display, but its display is good enough. It is a fullHD+ OLED panel, which is flat, and which looks good. It cannot compare to some other high-end panels, but once again, this is not what most people will notice nor care about. The colors are good, they are punchy, and the blacks are deep, as they should be on OLED panels. To make things even better, viewing angles are also more than enough. The panel is quite responsive, and there’s even an option to increase touch sensitivity… if needed when you use a screen protector.
Now, in regards to battery life, it does not disappoint. This was one of the aspects of this device I was most worried about, but I should not have been. I am a power user, and yet the Pixel 4a manages to last until the end of the day, on most days, at least. I often push this phone past 6 hours of screen on time during an 18-hour day, and the phone handles that well. I managed to get up to 7 hours of screen on time on several occasions, and that proves this phone’s battery prowess. It’s not the best out there in that regard, but it’s far from the worst. Its charging could be faster, but we won’t nitpick at this price tag, especially considering its battery life is that good.
One rear-facing camera, but a great one
The Google Pixel 4a comes with a single camera on the back. That’s not what we’re used to seeing in modern smartphones, but Google opted to use just one. It seems like the company did the right thing, as it helped it keep the price tag down, while it managed to offer a great camera experience. This phone comes with basically the same sensor Google has been using for years, but it rivals the Pixel 5, Google’s 2020 flagship, in camera performance. It can also hold its own against any other smartphone in the market.
That goes for basically all scenarios. No matter if HDR is needed, or if you’re shooting in low light, the Pixel 4a will deliver thanks to Google’s algorithms. The only thing it lacks is versatility. You do not get access to telephoto or ultrawide cameras here. So, if you love to shoot those ultrawide panoramas in a single click, you won’t be able to do that here. That’s a small price to pay if it means you get a great main camera, though. The video recording is also on point, which is surprising for a phone at this price tag.
The Google Pixel 4a is the best budget smartphone of 2020, period
The Google Pixel 4a is easily the best budget smartphone this year. That’s not to say we didn’t see a lot of other, great phones, but those devices are considerably more expensive than the Pixel 4a. The OnePlus Nord is definitely worth noting, but even that handset costs considerably more. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which is aimed towards different types of consumers, and costs almost twice as much. Nothing beats the Pixel 4a in that sub-$400, even sub-$500 price ranges.