The ideal 5G phone
The Pixel 4a 5G makes 5G connectivity accessible for everyone. It has a similar design as the regular Pixel 4a, but the Snapdragon 765G chipset delivers much better performance in day-to-day use. There's also a large 3,885mAh battery, and outstanding cameras at the back with a secondary wide-angle lens that adds versatility.
- Snapdragon 765G with 5G connectivity
- Outstanding camera with wide-angle lens
- Decent value
- Three Android platform updates
- No wireless charging
- No waterproofing
The Pixel 4a offers Google's outstanding camera at an incredibly low price point. The device nails the basics, offering decent internal hardware, a 3,140mAh battery that lasts all day, and 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. There's no 5G here, but you're getting pretty great value, and the device will get three Android version updates.
- Amazing value
- Class-leading camera
- Decent internal hardware
- Three Android platform updates
- No ultra-wide lens
- Limited to 4G connectivity
- No wireless charging
Google released two variants of the Pixel 4a: a regular model that originally went on sale for $350 and a 5G-enabled version that launched a little later for $499. Let's look at some of the other differences between the two Pixel 4a variants, and which model is better suited for your needs.
Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: Similar aesthetic with a few key differences
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The Google Pixel 4a is the default recommendation if you're looking to pick up a cheap Android phone, and that's entirely down to one feature: the camera. By bringing the camera from the Pixel 4 series to the Pixel 4a, Google has an insurmountable lead over its rivals in this segment.
The Pixel 4a gets a lot right in other areas as well. With a height of just 144mm, it is ideally suited for one-handed use. With phones getting taller with every generation, the Pixel 4a is the perfect compact phone in 2020.
The Pixel 4a 5G takes the same fundamentals as the Pixel 4a and introduces a few new features. The design aesthetic is unchanged, with both phones offering a polycarbonate chassis, but the Pixel 4a 5G has a larger 3,885mAh battery that delivers more screen-on-time. The charging tech is identical across both devices, with Google offering 18W wired charging. You won't find wireless charging on either the Pixel 4a 5G or the regular Pixel 4a.
The key differentiator for the Pixel 4a 5G is the Snapdragon 765G chipset with 5G connectivity. The chipset offers much better performance in day-to-day use over the Snapdragon 730 in the Pixel 4a, so if you like to play games on your phone, the Pixel 4a 5G is a better option.
Both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G have identical OLED displays, with the former offering a 5.8-inch screen and the latter a 6.2-inch panel. The panels offer HDR, are backed by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, and are limited to 60Hz. The larger screen gives the Pixel 4a 5G a slight edge, but the panel quality itself is identical between both models.
Both phones also come with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with Google offering a single storage and memory configuration this year. With no microSD slot on either device, there's no way to extend the internal storage. Interestingly, both the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G come with a 3.5mm jack.
Another key differentiator for the Pixel 4a 5G is the 16MP wide-angle camera at the back in addition to the primary 12.2MP lens. The wide-angle lens gives you much more versatility when taking photos, and the module is on the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G but not the regular Pixel 4a.
That said, the 12.2MP primary lens on the Pixel 4a takes photos of the same caliber as the Pixel 4a 5G, so you're not missing out in that area. The only difference is that you don't get the ability to take wide-angle shots on the regular Pixel 4a.
Both phones will get three guaranteed Android version updates, but with the Pixel 4a 5G coming with Android 11 out of the box, it has a slight edge in this area. The Pixel 4a debuted with Android 10, but it is entirely likely Google will update the regular variant to Android 14 three years down the line.
Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: All the specs you care about
|Category||Google Pixel 4a 5G||Google Pixel 4a|
|Operating system||Android 11||Android 11|
|Display||6.2-inch OLED 2340x1080 (19.5:9) HDR, Gorilla Glass 3||5.81-inch OLED 2340x1080 (19.5:9) HDR, Gorilla Glass 3|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 765G1 x 2.4GHz A761 x 2.2GHz A766 x 1.8GHz A55, Adreno 6207nm||Snapdragon 7302 x 2.22GHz Cotex A766 x 1.80GHz Cortex A55, Adreno 6188nm|
|Rear camera 1||12.2MP, f/1.7|
4K at 60fps
4K at 30fps
|Rear camera 2||16MP, f/2.2|
107-degree wide-angle lens
|Front camera||8MP, f/2.0||8MP, f/2.0|
|Connectivity||5G, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, A-GPS||Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, A-GPS|
|Audio||3.5mm jack, Stereo sound||3.5mm jack, Stereo sound|
|Battery||3885mAh, Non-removable||3140mAh, Non-removable|
|Charging||18W USB-C 3.1||18W USB-C 3.1|
|Security||Rear fingerprint||Rear fingerprint|
|Dimensions||153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm, 168g||144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm, 143g|
|Colors||Just Black||Just Black|
Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: It all comes down to 5G
With the Pixel 4a 5G retailing for $499, you are getting much better value over the Pixel 4a. The phone costs $150 more than the regular Pixel 4a, and you get a more robust chipset with 5G connectivity, wide-angle camera at the back, and a larger battery.
That said, if you don't care about 5G and are in the market for a smaller phone, the Pixel 4a is the ideal choice. The phone is designed for one-handed use, and it is a delight to hold and use. The 3,140mAh battery is good enough for all-day use, and at $350 it is a great overall value.
5G for everyone
The Pixel 4a 5G lowers the barrier to 5G connectivity. The Snapdragon 765G is a stalwart in this segment, delivering outstanding performance. The Pixel 4a 5G also has a large 3,885mAh battery that's designed for all-day use, outstanding cameras at the back, and clean software with three Android updates.
The default value choice
If you're in the market for value, you cannot go wrong with the Pixel 4a. The phone nails the basics with a vibrant 5.8-inch OLED panel, decent internal hardware, and all-day battery life. The camera is the true standout here, offering flagship-caliber photos in any lighting condition. If you don't care about 5G, the Pixel 4a is a fantastic choice.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.