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Google’s Pixel 4A: A smartphone with a focus

This mid-range device has been built with an eye on photography and comes with the latest Android upgrades

Mathures Paul Published 04.08.20, 09:28 PM
The Pixel 4A wants to get right that one thing which most phone users demand — excellent photography.

The Pixel 4A wants to get right that one thing which most phone users demand — excellent photography. Google

An opportunity arrived. Google has lapped it up. The company’s new Pixel 4A is priced sensibly but more importantly, it is a smartphone with a focus. Most devices out there want to be a master at everything. Not Pixel (and not the iPhone). If the sensibly-priced recent iPhone SE talks about longevity and power, the Pixel 4A is dedicated to being a camera phone with a few other tricks. This makes the OnePlus Nord the middle brother, which can play out in many ways. The launch, however much delayed, is an important one for several reasons.

The target audience is clear


Most don’t need a flagship phone. The demand is for a great product and overall experience. Agreed that a product like OnePlus Nord is packing in a lot in terms of hardware but frankly Google will always have an advantage when it comes to AI, which plays a big role on the camera front. The Pixel has an advantage when it comes to computational photography without giving into the more-cameras-the-better philosophy.

When one agrees to pay less, one also agrees to a not-too-nimble a processor, which also makes clear the intention behind buying a phone. If the user in question was looking at a gaming device, the choice would obviously be the latest processor. Pixel doesn’t tout its new phone to be a gaming beast. It’s a camera phone. A gamer on a budget would look at perhaps the iPhone SE, which is a small phone but it packs the latest processor in the market — the Apple A13 Bionic.

Google knows camera tricks

From the shots taken on the more expensive Google Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4A, there is hardly any difference. But Google doesn’t believe in putting in more lenses for the sake of it. That one 12.2MP optically stabilised sensor on the back promises a lot. There is even a Night Sight camera mode, which Google is known for. Changing between lenses on most Android phones can be tricky but not on this one because there is just one camera, which does it all. What one may find lacking is the extra image processor on the Pixel 4. So most of the photographs that are clicked may take a tad longer to process, which is fine for the price one is paying. Closer to the India launch we will be able to tell you more about the camera and performance.

A worthy option

Since the day Google launched the Pixel there have been critics questioning the company’s need to build and sell phones. Agreed that Pixel devices sell in limited numbers — compared to other smartphones — but that doesn’t make the device irrelevant. No matter what, the Pixel is an influential device. It packs a mid-range processor but doesn’t compromise on things the company is known for — excellent camera experience and features. And rest assured, you will get the latest Android updates for years, especially new versions of Android and features exclusive to Pixel.

Even without record-breaking sales, the new Pixel will influence every mid-range device launch. Also, every Pixel mirrors Google’s vision for Android. It’s not about numbers; it’s about holding one’s reputation of being a tech leader.

The only element one may hesitate about is the processor — Snapdragon 730G. Agreed it should be able to handle all kinds of day-to-day jobs but one needs to wait and see how this translates when it comes to longevity. The new iPhone SE is good enough for five years. What about Pixel 4A? On the flip side, 730G consumes less power, which means the battery should last more than on other phones.

A good opportunity

Something strange happened a few days ago. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported a drop in sales for the first time in the company’s history as advertising revenue came under pressure. Of course, the tech giant reported a lot of money coming in way of revenue for the second quarter but at nearly $38.3 billion, it was still down two per cent from the $38.9 billion a year earlier. What was surprising is that revenues were buoyed by YouTube’s performance.

Revenue for the video-sharing platform rose to $3.8 billion this year from $3.6 billion last year. This obviously means people are streaming more. Apple, too, announced huge profits. It made $11.25 billion in profit as device sales increased. And this means, people are buying devices even though they are staying home. In other words, there is a huge opportunity for Google to make Pixel a big success as people are looking for not-so-expensive phones to do a lot of streaming and, of course, photography.

The Android experience

Future phones will rely a lot on AI, something Google knows a lot about. Pixel devices are about the latest Android upgrades, best Android experience and top camera offerings. For Google, it’s not just about sales figures but ensuring that Android remains a mindset. And that’s where the Mountain View company wins.


Device: Google Pixel 4A
Display: 5.81-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340) OLED at 443 ppi
Battery: 3,140 mAh
Memory and storage: 6GB+128GB
Processor: Snapdragon 730G
Camera: Rear — 12.2MP,
front — 8MP
Availability and price: $349; India price yet to be announced but will be available in October

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