I’ve been in a period of self-imposed exile from Google’s phones for a number of years now, but I’ll admit that the Google Pixel 4a has caught my eye – despite my initial reservations.
I’ve always loved the pure Android experience that only Google’s range of smartphones can provide. Having access to the latest OS updates without being at the mercy of a manufacturer’s rollout plans was always a boon, and I hate the bloatware that’s shoehorned onto other devices (I’m looking at you, Bixby).
When the Google Nexus line was first announced, well over a decade ago now, I couldn’t have pictured a more perfect match. An affordable, yet innovative range of smartphones that took advantage of all the best bits of Android had me sold, and I subsequently threw myself into Google’s ecosystem feet first.
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I became the proud owner of the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 tablet and eventually a Nexus 6P, and I have nothing but fond memories of each of these devices. They hit the important sweet spot of being adequately powerful, without costing an exorbitant price.
When Google announced its Pixel range a few years later, though, I was quickly left disappointed. I thought that its lineup of phones would only get better, but instead of collaborating with tried and tested phone manufacturers like LG and Huawei, Google went its own way.
It decided that it could make better devices on its own, and in turn, believed its phones were now worth the sort of premium that only Apple had previously demanded.
Under the banner of #MadeByGoogle, the first-generation of Pixel devices looked average at best. They were plagued with huge chins, and a questionable build quality that simply wasn’t up to scratch when compared to the likes of Samsung or Apple.
This unsurprisingly left me pretty miffed, and worst still forced comparisons with higher end devices that I would have previously ignored due to the value of the Nexus line. As a result, I ended up leaving Google’s phones behind.
Google, I'm home
However, after using the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for well over a year, my head has admittedly been turned once again by the Google Pixel 4a. Not fully, mind you, but enough that I’m seriously considering getting Google’s heavily rumored phone.
For one, it’s reported to be competitively priced at $349 without being full of glaring caveats. If the rumored 5G model maintains that promise of being affordable, it could be an ideal upgrade from my aging 4G phone, too.
Leaked shots of the phone's design also have me quietly excited: the egregious chins of previous Pixel models seem to be all but gone, and the camera is likely to opt for a punch-hole design over the dreaded notch that Apple has favored.
The reported 5.81-inch screen may seem a touch small, but it's probably more than enough for my needs. The mere thought that the Pixel 4a may include a 3.5mm headphone jack is a huge win in my books, too – I’m not ready to start using a dongle or a proprietary pair of headphones anytime soon.
What's really got me intrigued, though, is that the Pixel 4a might use a strikingly similar camera to the Google Pixel 4, which is widely considered to be one of the best smartphone cameras around. It might skimp on a few features, most of which I'd probably find superfluous anyway, but it’s sure to take advantage of Google’s clever software tricks that give the Pixel cameras such a punch.
I really miss the pure Android experience, too. For as great as the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has been, I can't stand Samsung's pointless apps and software. The sooner I can leave the Bixby button behind for good, which I somehow manage to accidentally activate at least once a day, the better.
With the Google Pixel 4a heavily rumored to be unveiled on August 3, it looks like I won’t have to wait long to find out whether my expectations will be met, or if my exile will continue for another few more years. I just hope Google delivers the goods.
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