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Google Pixel 4a review: Another win for #TeamPixel

The home screen of the Google Pixel 4a   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

We often talk about the cult of Apple, OnePlus or Samsung, but Google’s impact on the smartphone community is not as discussed as it should be. Many — some may call them haters — will argue that the #TeamPixel movement of the past few years only has the impressive camera going for it, and that it is just another Android device.

Specifications
  • Display: Full-screen 147.6 mm (5.8") display with transmissive hole; FHD+ (1080 x 2340) OLED at 443 ppi; 100,000:1 super contrast ratio; HDR support; Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colours
  • Dimensions & weight: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm; 143 g
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4x RAM; 128 GB storage
  • Processors: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G; 2.2 GHz + 1.8 GHz, 64-bit Octa-Core; Adreno 618; Titan M security module
  • Rear camera: 12.2 MP dual-pixel; 1.4 micrometres pixel width; Auto-focus with dual-pixel phase detection; Optical + electronic image stabilisation; ƒ/1.7 aperture; 77° field of view
  • Front camera: 8 MP; 1.12 micrometre pixel size; ƒ/2.0 aperture; Fixed focus; 84° field of view
  • Charging & battery: USB-C 18 W adaptor with USB-PD 2.0; 18 W fast charging; 3140 mAh

When Google started releasing smartphones that were high-performance and easy on the bank account, something Apple could not do for the longest time, the tech community started to notice. The 2020 addition to the ‘a’ series, as Google calls it, is the Pixel 4a.

Raise your hand if you could literally hear your heart break when, in 2019, it was announced that India would not be releasing the Pixel 4. The radar-powered Soli motion-sensing system uses a radar frequency not allowed in the country — which somehow Google did not anticipate despite India being one of its biggest markets. This feature itself largely sets the 4 series apart from the 3. Google had to adapt to launch the 4 variant in India.

While the anticipation before the launch of the Pixel 4a was not as palpable as that of the 4, it was no surprise that this particular model sold out on a certain e-commerce platform within just 30 minutes of its launch on October 16.

Pretty on the inside too

The Pixel 4a has an eye-catching display of Full High Definition+ (1080 x 2340) OLED at 443 ppi with a full 24-bit depth for 16 million colours. There is a small transmission hole for the 8 megapixel front camera as well, which is not noticeable at most times. The bezels are smaller to make the most of the display real estate offered by the device. At 143 grams, the phone is super light, especially given the ‘a’ series opts for a polycarbonate unibody build rather than the steel build for the flagship range of phones. One of the let-downs is that the Pixel 4a has Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which could have easily been upgraded to the 5.

While we are discussing visuals, as expected, the cameras on the Pixel 4a do not disappoint. Portrait Mode has a faster focus thanks to the upgraded Live HDR+ with dual exposure controls; the composition and colour balancing are crystal clear and true-to-life. If you are keen on making printable memories with minimal creative direction, this is right up your alley. Night Mode is given a new life here as the Live HDR+ feature offers up a preview of your shot before you take it.

One of the most exciting additions to the Pixel 4a is that, like the 4, it has astrophotography capabilities thanks to a combination of integrated long exposure and the in-built AI. Sure, this was difficult to test in cloudy and rain-sodden Hyderabad lately but the basic camera itself has improvements, which show major progress.

The Portrait Mode of the Pixel 4a tested

The Portrait Mode of the Pixel 4a tested   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

For example, the device’s Super Res Zoom is intact and more responsive. To clearly shoot a subject about seven feet away, I did not have to move an inch; I only had to tilt the camera for right framing.

Under the hood

The best part of Pixel 4a is Android 11, which comes with a lot more control for the user, security-wise. The world shouted, for a really long time, and Google finally listened. From the get-go, I was able to control which apps had access to what mediums of data and how much of that data, and I was able to seamlessly switch those settings up as desired without too much fuss.

The 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel rear camera of the Google Pixel 4a

The 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel rear camera of the Google Pixel 4a   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Pixel 4a’s 3,140 mAh battery at first glance might not seem particularly exciting, given the most inexpensive smartphones have at least a 4,000mAh strength, but Pixel’s standard Adaptive Battery keeps the device going for a full day, adjusting power distribution depending on your activity. Powered centrally by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset, the device is whip-fast and enables the improved and more intuitive Google Assistant to make the user experience more seamless.

The Google Pixel 4a, screen-side down

The Google Pixel 4a, screen-side down   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Ultimately, the Pixel 4a is a competitive addition to the already bustling budget-friendly smartphone segment, occupied by the OnePlus Nord, iPhone SE and Samsung M51. You could give the Pixel 4a a shot if you are on the lookout for something under ₹45,000 packed with the richness of a flagship phone.

Google Pixel 4a retails for ₹31,999 across major retailers and e-tailers.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 7:53:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/google-pixel-4a-review-another-win-for-team-pixel-improved-camera-and-affordable/article32892456.ece

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