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Google Pixel 4a: Is this Android’s answer to the iPhone SE?

After a COVID-19-related delay, Google has finally announced the latest Google-branded mid-range smartphone: the Pixel 4a. More than a year on from the launch of its predecessor, the Pixel 4a sports a unique, single-tone black look. Instead of the traditional glossy glass and metal finishes, Google has gone with a polycarbonate unibody—and I can’t deny that it certainly looks good.

And with the iPhone SE 2020 hitting shelves in recent months, it appears that Google has Apple’s mid-ranger firmly in their crosshairs. They’re offering double the storage—at a cheaper price—for the single variant that the Pixel 4a is available in. Sound good? Let’s get right into it.

Price and availability

The Google Pixel 4a is available in a single variant with 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of storage, and only a single colour option is available: Just Black. Retail pricing is set at USD349 (~RM1,471), which is a full USD50 cheaper than the 64GB iPhone SE 2020.

Google Pixel 4a – 6GB RAM, 128GB storage – USD349 (~RM1,471)

Pre-orders are now available in select markets—although Malaysia isn’t included (like previous Google releases). Instead, the following regions will see official availability (shipping begins from August–October, depending on market):

Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India (coming soon), Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

Specs

One of the undoubted strengths of Google’s Pixel-branded phones are the cameras—specifically, the image processing capabilities of Google’s native apps. This time, we’re seeing a 12.2MP dual-pixel shooter, which is accompanied by a flash in the now-familiar rear camera module. The Pixel 4’s optical + electronic image stabilisation (OIS + EIS) has been brought over, which means that you should expect some similarly good results from the Pixel 4a’s main camera.

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We’re also seeing a hole-punch cutout on a Google Pixel phone for the first time ever. This time, an 8MP selfie camera will sit in a single hole-punch cutout, as Google finally caves in and ditches the large forehead on the Google Pixel 4. The display, meanwhile, is a 5.81″ Full HD OLED screen with a 19:5:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 443 ppi.

Moving on, the Pixel 4a is powered by the upper mid-range Snapdragon 730G, which is mated to 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM. As with all Pixel phones, you’ll also have stock Android 10 running out of the box, with at least three years of OS support and security updates promised by Google.

The battery sustaining the device is fairly small by 2020 standards at just 3,140mAh, although this isn’t the first time that Google has decided to go with a smaller-than-market-average battery in one of their phones. You do, however, get an 18W PD 2.0 charger in the box, so at least that’s something.

Other notable specs include stereo speakers (one of which appears to double up as the earpiece), and an honest-to-goodness 3.5mm headphone jack. The Pixel 4a is also the second Pixel device to feature the new Google Assistant, although you won’t be able to squeeze the phone to trigger it (unlike the Google Pixel 4). Instead, you’ll have to go down the traditional route: “Hey Google!”

There isn’t any 5G support, unfortunately, but that’s because Google is planning to launch the Pixel 4a (5G) alongside the Pixel 5 soon, with more information in the coming months. The 5G version has already been confirmed to be priced at USD499 (~RM2,104), which is significantly higher than the Pixel 4a’s USD349 price tag.

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So, what do you think? Is the Google Pixel 4a a better buy than the iPhone SE 2020? It all boils down to the ecosystem and OS you prefer.