Early Google Pixel 4a camera review showcases the 2020 mid-range Pixel’s camera performance
Later this month, Google is expected to launch the follow-up to the 2019 mid-range Pixel 3a: the Google Pixel 4a. The smartphone, which is expected to come in only one size, is expected to cost $400 at launch, pitting Google’s 2020 mid-range Pixel against the likes of the Apple iPhone SE and Samsung Galaxy A51. While Pixel smartphones aren’t known for their best-in-class hardware, they are known to excel in their picture-taking capabilities. The Pixel 4a will feature a single camera on the front and rear, much like the iPhone SE but unlike the Galaxy A51, but where the phone is expected to really shine is its use of the Google Camera app. Thanks to an early Pixel 4a camera review, we have a pretty good idea of its camera performance.
Cuban YouTube channel TecnoLike Plus, which is run by Julio Lusson, shared early camera samples from the Google Pixel 4a exclusively with XDA-Developers. Julio Lusson is the YouTuber who gave us our first detailed real-world look at the Pixel 4a back in March. Over the last few days, he has been taking pictures from his pre-release device. Thanks to these photos, we can share our general thoughts on the Pixel 4a’s camera performance ahead of this month’s launch. However, we should note that Julio’s device is running a pre-release firmware build and hence we expect Google to have tuned the camera processing for the upcoming retail software release. Julio did download the latest version of the Google Camera app, version 7.3.021.300172532, onto his device, but we don’t know what version of the app will be preloaded on retail units.
TecnoLike Plus published the below video on his YouTube channel and the following blog post showcasing camera samples that he took, but the video and article are in Spanish, so keep reading below if you’re interested in the full details on the Pixel 4a’s camera specifications and picture samples!
Leaked Camera Specifications
Earlier leaks confirmed the basic hardware specifications of the Google Pixel 4a, but Julio sent us some screenshots of the “camera” tabs in two different hardware information apps so we can share more details on the camera specifications. According to the “Device Info HW” and “DevCheck” apps, the Pixel 4a has a single rear camera consisting of a 12.2MP Sony IMX363 sensor with an f/1.73 aperture lens and 1.4µm pixel size and a single front-facing camera consisting of an 8MP Sony IMX355 sensor with an f/2.0 aperture lens and 1.14µm pixel size. Notably, the Sony IMX363 is the same primary rear camera sensor found on the Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4, while the Sony IMX355 is the same primary front-facing camera sensor found on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a.
The two hardware info apps report that the rear camera lens has a horizontal viewing angle of 65.6° while the front camera lens has a horizontal viewing angle of 72.4°. Next, the apps report that the Pixel 4a’s front camera is fixed-focus and supports EIS but not OIS, while the rear camera supports both OIS and EIS with auto-focus.
Google Pixel 4a Camera Samples
The following images are camera samples from the Google Pixel 4a. The photos were captured by Julio Lusson and published here with his permission. Due to our WordPress configuration, the below images have been resized and compressed to improve page load speed. However, at the bottom of this article, we have a link to a Google Photos album where the images have been uploaded in their original quality.
Portrait Mode Samples
Portrait Mode is one of the major features of the Google Camera app on Pixel smartphones. It enables “professional-looking shallow depth-of-field images”, according to Google. When Portrait Mode is enabled, the camera zooms in a bit (1.5x for the rear camera and 1.2x for the front camera) because the narrower field of view encourages users to stand further back, which reduces perspective distortion and leads to better portrait photos. Like most Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 4a can use portrait mode with a single camera.
HDR+ is another major feature in the Google Camera app. The feature takes continuous burst shots with short exposures, and the sharpest images are aligned and combined to produce a single image with higher dynamic range. HDR+ is one of the first major features of the Google Camera app which dates all the way back to the Google Nexus 5 and 6, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s supported on the Google Pixel 4a.
Astrophotography is a new Google Camera feature introduced with the Pixel 4. The feature allows users to take photos of the starry sky. It expands upon the existing “Night Sight” camera mode which enables handheld long exposure shots. Astrophotography requires the user to enable Night Sight and then leave the phone completely still for several minutes while the phone captures multiple exposures—you’ll almost always need to place the phone on a tripod to use Astrophotography. Google brought Astrophotography to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a after its debut on the Pixel 4, so its presence on the Pixel 4a should come as no surprise. Of course, Google Camera modders ported the feature to older Pixel smartphones.
Night Sight is one of the best Google Camera features to come from the Pixel 3 launch. Google’s Night Sight mode has kept Pixel phones in the conversation as the best camera phones for low-light shots, right under Huawei’s Mate and P series flagships.
The Pixel 4 was Google’s first Pixel device with dual rear cameras. Google chose a telephoto camera for the Pixel 4’s secondary rear camera, allowing the phone to boast improved Portrait Mode shots and crisp ~2X optical zoom and up to 8X digital zoom. Part of what makes zoom shots on the Pixel 4 so great is Google’s new Super Res Zoom algorithm. While the Google Pixel 4a only has a single primary camera, Super Res Zoom helps it take passable zoomed-in shots at up to 8X magnification.
Lastly, here are some indoor camera samples from the Google Pixel 4a, two of which are in arguably difficult lighting.
If you want to view these (and more) photos in their original, uncompressed form, then check out the following Google Photos album:
XDA Senior Contributor Idrees Patel also offered the following comments on the above photos:
“I viewed all the photos in full resolution, and they seem better than the Google Pixel 3 in terms of dynamic range and shadow detail capture. I haven’t used a Pixel 4 or Pixel 3a, so I can’t compare with them.
The photos are characteristically Pixel-like in look. This means they have excellent detail, balanced noise reduction with visible luminance noise, adequate (but not best in class) dynamic range, and great color accuracy. Night Sight is just as good as ever—I feel these photos are better than the Galaxy S20+’s night mode photos in a few respects.
The Pixel 4a’s camera will continue to excel when it comes to having a balanced noise reduction system, which will resolve more detail compared to competitors.
The one weakness is exposure. Compared to phones like the S20 or the OnePlus 7 Pro, these photos aren’t as bright, resolving less shadow detail. On the other hand, facial detail continues to remain a particular strength for all Pixels.
And finally, the Pixel’s portrait mode is better than most implementations. After viewing these photos I miss Google Camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro.”
Here are the full (rumored) specifications of the Google Pixel 4a. The phone will launch later this month at an expected retail price of $400. While the Pixel 4a likely won’t have the best hardware at this price point, it will still most likely be a worthy contender for the best mid-range smartphone in the U.S. thanks to Google’s stellar software and support.
Rumored Google Pixel 4a Specifications
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
- GPU: Adreno 618
- RAM: 6GB
- Internal storage: 64GB UFS 2.1
- Display: Single hole-punch 5.81-inch display, 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 443 dpi, 60Hz refresh rate
- Rear camera: 12.2 MP Sony IMX363, f/1.73 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, OIS, EIS, LED flash, 4K video recording, Autofocus
- Front camera: 8.0 MP Sony IMX355, f/2.0 aperture, 1.14µm pixels, EIS, Fixed focus
- Connectivity: 4G, Dual SIM, GPS, WiFi 5, Bluetooth, GLONASS
- Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Security: Rear fingerprint sensor
- Battery : 3,080 mAh
- Software: Android 10