Google Pixel 4a Review (from an iPhone User)
I’m a long time iPhone user, but I’ve been wanting to dabble in the Android world for quite a bit. And since the Pixel 4a is pretty new, I figured this wouldbe a good start point. (upbeat music) Hey guys, how are you all doing, really? That’s just great.
You know, I’m doingpretty great today too, because the Pixel 4a is here in my lair, and if you’re new here, welcome, my name is Krazy Ken. And I’ve been testingout the Google Pixel 4a for about two weeks now. And as you could imagine,I have some things to say. But ultimately we’ll beanswering the question, who is this phone for? But first, what is it? In a few words, it’s verysimple and inexpensive. and this is kind of optimizedby the color options on the website, black. Just Black.
That’s Google saying don’t even ask for any other colors or configurations. It’s just freaking black. So it’s simple. One size, one color, oneset of specs, one price $349. Before we hop more into my thoughts, let’s break down the specs of this guy. So this phone featuresa 5.8-inch, 1080-by-2340 all wide display with a whole punch camera or as Google calls it, thetransmissive hole, pretty fancy. And because it’s OLED, the blacks on the screenreally look black and rich with a 200,000 to one contrast ratio.
It also features six gigabytes of Ram, 128 gigabytes of storage anda Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G with an Octa-Core Titan M, which is Google’s security chip. And you’re guaranteed at least three years of OS and security updates. The rear camera has a12.2 megaPixel sensor and the front camera hasan eight megaPixel sensor. And as for the rearcameras, video capabilities, it can shoot up to 4Kat 30 frames per second, and it has video stabilization. and of all the features on the phone, I’m definitely testingthe camera out the most, because I think that’s the feature most people care about a lot.
So we’ll talk more about that soon. On the battery end, the phone has a 3,140milliamp hour battery, and the phone comes withan 18 Watt USB-C adapter and a quick switch adapter too. So pretty neato. And here’s another thingyou don’t see too often, a headphone jack. So that’s included with your 4a. Can I be honest? I kind of missed theheadphone Jack on my iPhone. So that’s kind of nice. And on the rear, you have that handy capacityfingerprint scanner, so you can unlock your phone super easily.
So to keep things as fair as possible, I’m approaching this review in two ways. The first way I’mapproaching the review in is, me as a long time iPhone user being new to the Android platform and considering all of the speedbumps I guess you could say during my transition, and the other way I’mapproaching this review is, more holistically, and I’m trying to phase the iPhone out of my mind completely, and I’m just reviewingthe phone for what it is. No iPhone in my memory at all.
So after using an iPhone for so long, the first thing that hit mewith the 4a was how it feels, because it’s made of polycarbonate, it’s so much lighter than what used to, because I carry a stainlesssteel and glass phone around all the time. But also the feeling ofthe back was different because it’s polycarbonate, but it’s got this kind ofpowder coated finish to it. And I’ll be honest, I’mnot a huge fan of that, It feels kind of weird on my fingers. It almost feels like thefeeling lingers on my fingers even after I touch it for a while. I’m not sure if thathappens to anybody else or if I’m just weird.
There’s probably a more technical name for that type of powdercoating, I’m not an engineer. And I couldn’t say, hey, it’s only $350, soit’s okay that it’s cheaper feeling like that. But then I think, well, the iPhone SE is only $50 more and that’s a glass and aluminum, but there’s trade-offs to everything. And honestly, if I was an Android user and I wanted to stay inthe Android ecosystem, I wouldn’t even be consideringan iPhone SE anyway, so ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The screen though feels perfect. It’s Gorilla Glass 3,so no complaints there. Visually, I do likethe look of the design, way more than the feel of the design.
It’s got that unibody look, no seams, It’s just all one piece, very, very minimalist looking, very clean. And I also like that the top speaker is built in to the bezel here. So because of that and becauseof the whole punch camera, there’s no need for a notch, like what you have on the iPhone. Now I understand the iPhone has a lot of hardwareshoved in there for face ID and the true depth cameraand all that stuff. It’s trade-offs, nothing is free. There’s always trade-offs. But on this particular phone,with the way it’s built, you seem to have more uninterrupted screen because there is no notch. So let’s talk software for a bit.
Because I’m transitioningto Android for this test, I just wanted to install a few apps that I’m comfortable with, that I use all the time like Dropbox, and of course, YouTube,Twitter, all that great stuff. But also, since Appleoffers it, Apple Music, they have an Android version of that app, and I subscribed to Apple Music recently, and honestly, I’m really loving it. Another app I wanna talk about super quick is actually really new to me. I haven’t even installedit on my daily driver. It’s only on my test phonecause I just jumped right in, but Blinkist, it’s pretty cool. The way it works is kind of like this.
So remember when you were back in school and the teacher gave youlike a reading project with 800-page book, and you would go to acertain “sparky” website just to get the gist of the book. That’s essentially what Blinkist is, but with audio too. Blinkist just gives you the best insights from over 3000 nonfiction books and it condenses them into blinks. And you can read those blinksor you can listen to them, and they only take about 15 minutes. And here’s some examples, “The 7 Habits oF Highly Effective People.” That’s been on my to readlist for like five years, it’s finally time to get that one done. What else? “The 5 am Club.” I mean, that sounds kind of torturous. Maybe I’ll skip that one for now. I’m kidding.
I think Tim Cook wakes up like at four in the morning every day, so if you wanna be theCEO of Apple one day, you better start waking up early. They have blinks about entrepreneurship, self-help, motivation, there’s just so much good stuff on here. So I highly recommenddownloading Blinkist now. And it also works in a web browser, so with apps aren’tyour thing, no worries. Also the first 100 people touse my link in the description will be able to try Blinkistcompletely free for seven days. And when you want to signup for the full membership, you’ll get 25% off as well. And again, the seven daytrial is totally free, you can cancel at any time, no worries, but I’m sure you’ll like it. So thanks Blinkist forsponsoring this episode. Okay, so let’s talkabout the OS for a sec.
Now I’m not gonna go too fardown the rabbit hole here because this is not an Android review, but I do have some thoughts. And this is actuallyone of the main reasons why I wanted to startmy Android experience with a Pixel 4a, because Google makes the Pixel hardware and they make the Androidoperating systems. So it’s kind of that nicehardware-software marriage that I’m used to with Apple, so that’s why I decided to start there. But, don’t worry. I still wanna try otherAndroid devices coming up, like the Surface Duo. I will be doing a reviewepisode about that and possibly even a rawfirst impressions episode, so make sure you’resubscribed for that later. So it did take me a while to get used to some of the gestures and the lack of the rubberbanding while scrolling just kind of felt off to me, but you know, that’s just force of habit. That’s an Apple thing andI was just used to it.
And for some reason, the wifi would not connect with my phone, it took three tries to join it, but, hey it ended up working. So overall, not too manyissues so far, still learning, but, also as you may notice,some of you may have seen that I switched to the Nova launcher and I ditched the Pixel launcher. I mean, it was okay, but the at a glance viewwas kinda just bugging me, I don’t always need that kind of stuff up.
I really like having virtuallynothing on my home screen, but when I was lookingat how to turn it off, I was googling it, and a bunch of people werehaving the same problem I was having, so good, I wasn’t the only one that was confused, but the most common answer that I saw was install a different launcher. And the most popular one Isaw pop up was Nova launcher. So I did that and I’m digging it, and there’s some other parts of the UI that just kind of bug me, that’s just how my trained eye kind of is, and I’m just used tomore, I guess consistency and like even spacingand rounding with iOS. And I’ve noticed in Android, at least particularly on the 4a here, rounded corners aren’t the same on the top as they are on the bottom.
It seems like things aregetting cut off with the screen and they don’t play nicewith the rounded corners. That may sound like I’m just being picky, but those types of small detailsreally make it or break it for me when it comes to first impressions. I know I’m not the onlyone that thinks that, that’s just my opinion, but let me know what you think. There are some features I do like though, like Google Lens beingbuilt in is pretty cool, the Now Listening feature, so if I’m in a store or somethingand music plays, you know, it’ll just pop up the name ofthe song on the lock screen. I think that’s pretty cool. And just some small things too, like if I’m searching for a setting, the search results willhave the on and off switches just easily available there, that’s a cool shortcut.
So small things like thatare pretty freaking handy. I’m still working my waythrough that learning curve getting used to the software, but thankfully I have all ofyou awesome people on Twitter to help me out with that. So thank you. All right, camera time. So when I was reviewing mytest photos for this episode, there was an involuntarylike audible, “Oh, wow.” That escaped in my mouthwhen I was viewing them on my big iMac screen, because I was really surprised, for a $350 phone tohave a camera that good. The pictures were just so sharp. It was really impressive. Even the optical depthof field held up well.
This shot was taken withoutany kind of post-processing done to it. I did do some edits toexperiment with the color, but the blur was donecompletely optically. Night shot also works pretty well in here. Here’s a photo of a low light situation without night shot turned on and here is the samesetting with night shot on. And here’s just some other general tests that I did a few more edits with Photoshop just to experiment with some color, but as you can see, it works really well. And I wanted to take alot of closeup shots, the macro capabilities worked pretty well. I could get pretty close to subjects without things going out of focus.
And I did a lot of sharpness testing, you can see the details arepreserved really well here. As for the video capabilities, nothing really to write home about, again, it goes up to 4K at 3FPS and the stabilization is pretty decent. The color and luminance was okay, like it wasn’t going toocrazy with crushing blacks and blowing out the highlights. So again, I can’t reallycomplain only 350 bucks. There’s also a front facing camera. I mean, you saw it earlier,the whole punch thing, but like, do it.
I am not so a selfie guy,I really don’t do that, but it does work. And it also does work with other features like the portrait mode, which will artificiallyblur out the background, computational photographyman, it’s gonna take over. It pretty much already has. So back to that question, who is this phone for? I don’t think Google is tryingto win over iPhone users with this phone. So it’s not about acquisition. It’s about retention. They’re trying to keep peoplein the Android ecosystem, particularly with Googlehardware, for a low cost. This is the answer to theiPhone SE second generation.
It’s a low cost phone, that still has plenty of great features. So if you wanna remainin the Android ecosystem, just because that’s what you’re used to, and you don’t wanna spend a bunch of money on your next phone upgrade, this is the phone for you. This is your next phone, simple. But, that’s just my 2 cents, it’s been fun getting to play with Android and get more into it because I’ve been wantingto do that for a while. And again, I will be testingup a Surface Duo soon as well, so make sure you’re subscribedand stay tuned for that. Let me know what you thinkabout the Google Pixel 4a in the comments below.