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Google’s Pixel 4a is all the smartphone you need, for $600

With the Pixel 4a launching in Australia next month, Google has once again raised the bar for what you should expect from a less-expensive device. Offering the kind of smooth and seamless experience you expect on a flagship phone like the Galaxy S20 or iPhone 11— along with one of the best camera experiences on any phone — for half the price of a high-end device, the Pixel 4a makes it tough to argue for buying a $1000+ smartphone.

Last year’s $649 Pixel 3a was a revelation in the mid-range space, but competition came in the form of strong counters from Samsung, Apple and a range of Chinese handset-makers. Now that Google has added a bigger screen, faster processor, more memory, smarter AI features and a more modern design, while shaving even more off the price, I’m confident saying this is again the very best value smartphone.

The $599 Pixel 4a compares favourably to the $749+ iPhone SE in most regards, although Apple's budget offering has more grunt.

The $599 Pixel 4a compares favourably to the $749+ iPhone SE in most regards, although Apple’s budget offering has more grunt.Credit:Tim Biggs

The $599 4a is small by 2020 flagship standards, weighing a mere 143g and sporting a sharp and colourful 5.8-inch OLED screen. The physical design is minimalist with black matte plastic on the rear, a very light green power button and the display up front interrupted only by a hole-punch selfie camera in the corner. It’s the most modern-looking phone Google has made yet, though the company has opted to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The simplicity of design flows through to the software which is clean, proactive, free from bloat and a joy to use, especially compared to other lower-price Androids. The device focuses on delivering everything you need and very little extra, with Google’s services and AI doing the heavy lifting rather than powerful and expensive components.

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