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If you’re looking for a solid Android phone but you want to spend a thousand dollars, you are in luck. While high-end phones (Samsung S20 5G, iPhone 11, etc) keep going up in price the budget phones are getting better and better and still fall below $500. I took the newest budget model from Google, the Pixel 4a, for a test.

The back of the Pixel 4a is plastic instead of glass like the Pixel 4

How does it feel?

The Pixel 4a feels compact. Not small, just compact. In a good way! These giant phones are becoming a “thing” and personally I enjoy seeing a nice compact phone. It’s much more pocketable than many of the mega-phones we’re seeing these days. The screen on the front looks great. There is a noticeable bezel around the screen that we don’t see in more expensive phones. You’ll also see the small camera hole punched in the upper left corner. The screen is covered in scratch resistant Gorilla Glass just like it’s more expensive counterpart, the Pixel 4.

The 4a is built with less expensive materials. The back of the phone is plastic, instead of glass. This may feel cheaper to some but I’ll admit that I like the soft plastic feel of it. It feels solid, not cheap in my opinion. Sure, glass is higher-end but for a budget phone, this thing feels like a tank.

Less processing power?

Inside you’ll also find a budget processor. Google used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 in the Pixel 4a. The thing is, these so-called budget processors are so much better than they used to be. For most people this is plenty of power. In my testing the 4a didn’t skip a beat while loading apps, surfing the web and taking pictures. For the majority of users, the 730 is plenty powerful enough. If you’re planning to play the latest high-end games you may want to look for something with a more powerful processor.

Google uses same 12.2 Megapixel sensor in 4a as the more expensive Pixel 4

What about the camera?

The camera is easily the most important feature on smartphones for a lot of us. While the Pixel 4a has less cameras (one on the back, one on the front) than most high-end phones, it doesn’t disappoint. The main camera on the back is a 12.2 Megapixel sensor. The selfie camera is 8MP. That’s it. There is no second or third camera like we see on many high-end phones. These numbers may not sound impressive but the cameras take great pictures. The 12.2 sensor on the back is the same sensor Google uses in the more expensive Pixel 4. It’s a top-of-the-line camera and it shows. Pictures look awesome in normal situations and low-light situations. The night sight shooting mode is still amazing… just like it was in the Pixel 3. Want the best camera on a phone under $400? This is it. Hands down.

Headphone jack on the Google Pixel 4a

What the heck is that?

It’s like a unicorn – people talk about it but you rarely see it! Google included an actual headphone jack on the Pixel 4a. This is smart considering the budget conscious consumer may not want to drop $150 on bluetooth headphones. It could also seal the deal for some who refuse to cut that cable.

Overall – Is this a good buy?

Yes, yes and YES! The Pixel 4a is easily one of the best budget phones on the market in 2020. For $350 I dare you to find a better smartphone. It feels solid despite the plastic back, the screen looks great, the processor is fast enough and the camera takes amazing pictures. If you’re looking for a sub $400 smartphone it would be hard to go wrong with the Google Pixel 4a.

You can buy the Pixel 4a at many stores or order it directly from Google online.