Compared to last year’s model, Pixel 4a has upgrades that go beyond the specification sheet. But since it’s a generation old, the 2019 Pixel 3a is available for a full discount right now, and it still has two full years of software updates coming. So which is really the best buy?
Whether it’s useful features like car collision detection or extra camera features like dual exposure and live HDR +, 4a definitely has the 3a pace. But the question is, are these extra features and incremental hardware upgrades enough to turn down the offers you can get on a 3a? We hope it’s easier to figure it out when you see the differences listed in black and white.
1. Live HDR +
One of the negatives of HDR + is that what you see in the viewfinder is not how the final image is displayed. This is usually good because HDR + improves the photo, but since you can only make adjustments based on what you see in the viewfinder, it can be harder to set your tag.
Live HDR + on Pixel 4a solves this. Using the machine learning algorithm called HDRnet, Pixel 4a’s viewfinder can mimic HDR + finishing so you can set your photo accordingly. First introduced in Pixel 4, this feature has not made its way to Pixel 3a.
2. Double exposure
Another new camera feature in Pixel 4a is dual exposure. Press an empty part of the viewfinder to display two switches, “Brightness” and “Shadows.” This new dual slider replaces the single “Brightness” on Pixel 3a and 3a XL.
The “Brightness” slider works in the same way as the Pixel 3’s single slider and adjusts the overall exposure of the image. The new “Shadows” only affect the dark areas, allowing you to increase or suppress details, depending on your vision. These are great tools for those looking for artistic control.
Pixel 4a uses the latest version of Night Sight, Google’s shooting mode in low light. In addition to improvements in machine learning, there is new hardware that enables four times longer exposure times on Pixel 4a. With such a long exposure, the Pixel 4’s camera can take in more light, enabling detailed images of the night sky or the surroundings without the need for additional lighting.
4. Snapdragon Elite Gaming
With the upgrade to the Snapdragon 730G system on a chip, it comes with some benefits, one of which is Snapdragon Elite Gaming. This is a series of features that enhance mobile gaming. Pixel 4a does not contain all components but has anti-cheating extensions, jank reduction, HDR games and improved color.
5. Qualcomm AI Engine 4th generation
While the Pixel 4a does not have access to the custom Visual Core for fast image processing, it has Qualcomm’s AI engine to help with computing. This is used in all AI enhancement features on the phone, from voice dictation to Live HDR +. While both Pixel 3a and 4a use Qualcomm AI Engine, the version included in Pixel 4a is the latest generation, which is three times faster than its predecessor.
6. Premium benefits
Although it is not a feature in the traditional sense, an advantage of buying a Pixel 4a is the premium benefits. Unlike Pixel 3a, Google encourages the purchase of Pixel 4a, and it’s not just for early users.
Purchase and activate Pixel 4a before April 30, 2021 to receive the following free three-month subscription: YouTube Premium (YouTube with background games and no ads), Google Play Pass (access to hundreds of premium games and apps) and 100 GB from Google One. Because Google One handles backups of photos, Drive and phone, it replaces the free original copy of photos once provided to Pixel users.
7. Detected by car crash
Pixel 4a has been pre-installed with the latest version of the Personal Security app. The big new feature is the detection of car crashes. Using the various sensors in your Pixel 4a, a loud alarm is played when an accident is detected. If there is no answer, it automatically calls 911 and gives your place to the rescue service.
8. Netflix HDR
Despite its stunning OLED panel, Pixel 3a was limited to non-HDR content for everyone except YouTube. The smartphone never received Netflix certification to allow HDR content.
Pixel 4a has this certification. With at least 25 Mbps and a premium subscription, all HDR content hosted by Netflix can now be enjoyed on your phone up to 1080p resolution.
9. Recorder with assistant
Pixel 4a has Google Assistant 2.0, both the new user interface and its features. This means, among other things, that you can start and stop voice recordings and even save and search for files using the assistant in the new recording app. The following phrases allow you to control the app on 4a, but none work on 3a:
- “Start a voice recording”
- “Stop voice recording”
- “Save voice recording with title” and then your title
- “Search for voice recording” and then your keyword
10. More wireless HD codecs
Just because your phones have a 3.5mm jack does not mean you can not use wireless headphones. Pixel 4a enhances this process by adding support for two additional HD codecs: LDAC and AAC. LDAC is considered to be the best codec, which can deliver up to 990 kbps at 24 bits / 96 kHz.
11. Faster USB port
Both Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a have a USB Type-C port. However, the port included in Pixel 3a used the much slower USB 2.0 standard, which has a maximum data rate of 480 Mbps. Pixel 4a was upgraded to USB 3.1 Gen 1, formerly known as SuperSpeed +, which has a data rate of 10 Gbps.
12. Faster internal storage
Replacing the embedded multimedia card (aka eMMc) included in Pixel 3a is the much faster Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.1 standard on Pixel 4a. UFS can read and write simultaneously using multiple paths to move data around internal memory, while eMMc could only do one at a time. In addition, the top speed for UFS is more than twice as high as for eMMc, which means that not only can it do more at once, but it can also be done faster.
13. Better compatibility with hearing aids
Smartphones that are compatible with the hearing aid receive two ratings, M and T. M refers to how well a telephone works with a hearing aid in the microphone setting. The higher the M-number, the better the experience, with the highest rating M4. Both phones have M3 ratings.
Where the improvements come is in the T rating, where the Pixel 4a got a T4. This rating indicates that Pixel 4a exceeds the ANSI standard for those who use their phone while their hearing aid is in telecoil mode.
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