(Pocket-lint) - Google's Pixel 4a has finally been announced, several months after it was expected.

How does the Pixel 4a compare to its predecessor - the Pixel 3a - though? We've put the specifications of the Pixel 4a up against the Pixel 3a and 3a XL to see what the differences are and whether it's worth upgrading.

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Design

  • Pixel 3a: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2mm, 147g 
  • Pixel 3a XL: 160.1 mm x 76.1 mm x 8.2mm, 167g
  • Pixel 4a: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm, 143g 

The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL both have the same design, albeit different sizes. There's a physical fingerprint sensor on the rear in the centre, a single camera lens in the top left corner and the fronts have bezels at the top and bottom of the displays.

Colour options are Just Black, Clearly White and Purplish. Both come with a 3.5mm heapdhone jack and both have a USB Type-C port for charging.

There is only one size of the Google Pixel 4a and it's quite a bit smaller than the Pixel 3a, so definitely smaller than the Pixel 3a XL. It too has a physical fingerprint sensor and a 3.5mm headphone jack like its predecessors, but elsewhere the design is different.

On the rear, the camera housing takes some design tips from the Pixel 4, moving the single sensor and flash into a protruding square and ditching the two-tone finish, while on the front, a punch hole front camera is present, meaning we say goodbye to those bezels.

Colour options are limited to one: Just Black.

Display

  • Pixel 3a: 5.6-inch, 2220 x 1080 (441ppi), OLED, 60Hz, 18:9
  • Pixel 3a XL: 6-inch, 2160 x 1080 (402ppi), OLED, 60Hz, 18:9
  • Pixel 4a: 5.81-inch, 2340 x 1080 (443ppi), OLED, 60Hz, 19.5:9

The Google Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution, while the Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch OLED display, also with a Full HD+ resolution. Both offer an aspect ratio of 18:9 and both have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which although is pretty standard, the OnePlus Nord in the same price group bumps this up to 90Hz.

The Pixel 4a comes with a 5.81-inch display, positioning itself inbetween the Pixel 3a and 3a XL - likely the reason for only one size option. Like its predecessors, it has a Full HD+ resolution and uses an OLED panel, as well as offering a 60Hz refresh rate.

Where the Pixel 4a gains points over its predecessors is the punch hole camera. This is the first time we're seeing the technology on a Pixel, and as you can see from the measurements, it allows the device to be smaller, the bezels to disappear and the screen to be larger, resulting in a display aspect ratio of 19.5:9 instead of 18:9.

Hardware and specs

  • Pixel 3a: Qualcomm SD670, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, 3000mAh, 4G
  • Pixel 3a XL: Qualcomm SD670, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, 3700mAh, 4G
  • Pixel 4a: Qualcomm SD730G, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3140mAh, 4G

The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Neither have microSD for storage expansion but both have NFC for payments.

The Pixel 3a has a battery capacity of 3000mAh, while the Pixel 3a XL has a battery capacity of 3700mAh. Both have 18W fast charging.

The Pixel 4a runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset, which makes it a 4G device like the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. Google has said there will be a 5G Pixel 4a in the "fall" alongside the Pixel 5 though.

For the 4G model however, there's 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, with no microSD support. The Pixel 4a has a 3140mAh battery, making it slighty bigger than the Pixel 3a but quite a bit smaller than the 3a XL.

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Camera

  • Pixel 3a/3a XL: 12.2MP rear (f/1.8, 1.14µm pixels), 8MP front (f/2.0, 1.12µm)
  • Pixel 4a: 12.2MP (f/1.7, 1.4µm pixels), 8MP front (f/2.0)

The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL both feature the same camera as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. This means you'll find a single 12.2-megapixel Dual Pixel camera sensor on the rear featuring an f/1.8 aperture and 1.14µm pixel width. There's optical and electronic image stabilisation, as well as features like Night Sight, which delivers excellent low light shots.

On the front of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, there's an 8-megapixel sensor with a 1.12µm pixel width and a f/2.0 aperture.

The Pixel 4a comes with the same camera as the Pixel 4, which is a 12.2-megapixel 1.4µm sensor with f/1.7 lens and optical image stabilisation. It has all the AI skills of the Pixel 4 too, including the brilliant Night Sight with astrophotography, Top Shot and Portrait Mode.

The front camera in the display is an 8-megapixel 1.22µm sensor with f/2.0 lens.

Conclusion

The Google Pixel 4a offers some great improvements over the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, including a better camera, larger display compared to the Pixel 3a, refined design and a bump in processor, RAM and storage.

If you're choosing between the Pixel 4a and the 3a, the 4a is certainly the better device on paper and its design refresh brings it more in-line with other 2020 devices. If you're wondering whether to upgrade from the Pixel 3a or 3a XL, the Pixel 4a offers plenty of reasons to.

If you're not in the US though, you'll have to wait a while for it to go on sale, by which point you might consider the Pixel 4a 5G.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.