Google Pixel 4A: Cheat sheet

google-pixel-4a:-cheat-sheet

Google’s Pixel 4A smartphone is a budget model priced at $349 with enough important features for pro users to make it an ideal company-issue device.

Google Pixel 4A

Image: Angela Lang/CNET

Google’s latest smartphone isn’t a new flagship device: It’s the Pixel 4A, the budget version of last year’s Pixel 4. Owners of flagship smartphones won’t be wowed by its features (which are minimal) or its design (which is simple), but the Pixel 4A isn’t designed with flagship device users in mind. The Pixel 4A is geared toward people who are budget conscious or don’t need or want all the bells and whistles, or companies that want a fleet of basic, yet modern, business smartphones. 

At only $349, the Pixel 4A is priced to compete with other mid-tier smartphones from major manufacturers, but with the added benefit of having “…one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone,” according to Lynn La in her review on TechRepublic sister site CNET.

Despite some drawbacks, the Pixel 4A has solid specs for a good price, and it’s worth considering as a business smartphone. 

SEE: Managing and troubleshooting Android devices checklist (TechRepublic Premium) 

What is the Google Pixel 4A, and how does it compare to the Pixel 4?

The Pixel 4A is Google’s latest mid-tier Android smartphone. It takes design cues from 2019’s Pixel 4 flagship device and serves as the replacement for the Pixel 3A, which Google discontinued in mid-July 2020.

The Pixel 4A is undoubtedly not a flagship device, especially compared to the Pixel 4, its closest flagship relative in Google’s smartphone lineup. In contrast to the Pixel 4, the 4A:

  • Only has one rear camera (no telephoto lens);
  • Only has a 60Hz display (the Pixel 4 has a 90Hz display);

  • Doesn’t have wireless charging; 

  • Doesn’t have an IP rating (it isn’t water or dust resistant);

  • Doesn’t have Soli motion sensing;

  • Has a less-powerful chipset than the Pixel 4; and

  • Doesn’t have configuration options.

CNET said that the Pixel 4A looks and feels cheap despite its design. “Its plain polycarbonate body lacks the glossiness of the Galaxy A51, the elegance of the iPhone SE and the fun Pop Art aesthetic of its Pixel 4 brother,” said CNET’s Lynn La in her review of the 4A.

On the positive side of things, the Pixel 4A does have elements in its favor over the Pixel 4:

  • It has a headphone jack; 
  • A larger display;
  • A larger battery;
  • and the exact same rear camera as the Pixel 4’s main lens for a far lower price. 

As CNET’s Lynn La said in her review of the Pixel 4A, “it takes very little effort to get the Pixel 4A to spit out a good photo.” That can be a big plus for business users who need to take photographs for documentation purposes, social media, special events, or other workday uses. 

Google Pixel 4A specs

Display: 5.81″ OLED, 2340×1080, always on, 24-bit color

Dimensions: 5.7″ x 2.7″ x 0.3″ (144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm), 5.04 oz (148g)

Operating System: Android 10

Storage: 128 GB

Memory: 6 GB

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G

Cameras: 12.2MP rear, 8MP front, 4K video capture

Battery: 3,140 mAh

Login security: rear fingerprint reader

Ports: USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, dual SIM (nano and e-SIM)

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (no Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, Google Cast, LTE cellular

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What are the Pixel 4A main competitors?

The Pixel 4A is competing against any mid-tier smartphone, but in particular two competitors stand out: The Samsung Galaxy A51 and the newest iPhone SE model. Of those two, the biggest challenger for Pixel 4A market share is the Galaxy A51.

In its Pixel 4A announcement post, CNET pointed out that Google has had a bit of a struggle in the smartphone market as of late, with team conflicts, the departure of key smartphone engineers, and the several month delay of the Pixel 4A. 

Samsung continues to dominate the Android device market, and Google’s failure to make inroads isn’t likely to let up with competition coming from the Samsung A51, which from photos looks like a much higher-end device. That may not be the case, but looks count when it comes to mobile devices, especially when the Pixel 4A has already been described by CNET as feeling cheap. 

SEE: Mobile device security: Tips for IT pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Samsung and Google both have reasons for investing in the Pixel and Galaxy lines for business, but Google is the one facing an uphill battle against Samsung’s dominance in the smartphone industry.

There’s another big competitor that could drive down sales of the Pixel 4A, and it’s Google’s next mid-tier Pixel device due out this fall: The 4A 5G. Not a lot is known about the 5G version of the Pixel 4A, but it’s only going to cost $150 more than the just-released Pixel 4A. Anyone considering a mid-tier Android device who is interested in the Pixel 4A may be better served by waiting a few more months for the Pixel 4A with 5G. 

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Why should businesses and professionals consider the Pixel 4A?

Despite some downsides, there are a lot of reasons why the Google Pixel 4A would make a good business device for both individual users and organizations looking for a new bulk buy option for employees.

First off, there’s Google’s Titan M security chip, which is at the core of the Pixel 4A. Google describes the Titan M as “enterprise grade,” and it goes a long way toward securing devices. The Titan M is integrated into the bootloader to verify the OS hasn’t been maliciously modified and encrypt the device when it’s locked, and it uses secure APIs to ensure only trusted apps are running on the device. 

The Pixel 4A also comes with Google’s Personal Safety app, which can do things like automatically call 911 when a vehicle accident is detected, or schedule safety checks that automatically notify emergency contacts when the safety check notification isn’t acknowledged. Both of those features can be great for employees working in the field or in remote areas.

Call screening is also built into the Pixel 4A, and because it’s manufactured by Google, the device will always be one of the first to receive Android updates, which can mean vital security patches get to sensitive devices more quickly. 

Lastly, there aren’t any customization options. That may sound like a drawback, but when the only Pixel 4A you can get is black, with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage, there are no special orders to fill–it’s one-device-fits-all, which makes things easier for purchasing.

The Pixel 4A is also supposed to get “all day battery life.” Google didn’t qualify what that means, but in CNET’s testing, the Pixel 4A averaged around 18 hours and 45 minutes of battery life. 

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When and where will the Pixel 4A be available?

The Google Pixel 4A is available for preorders from Google now, and will ship out beginning on August 20, 2020. It will be available on Verizon, Google Fi, or unlocked without a carrier.

The Pixel 4A will be available for purchase at launch in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. Google also plans to release the Pixel 4A in India soon.

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How to use the Google Pixel Safety Check feature

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The Android-powered Google Pixel line of phones received a very important updated feature dedicated to user’s personal safety. Learn how to use the Safety Check feature.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Recent updates to Android 10 on the Google Pixel line of smartphones have brought a number of really interesting features to the platform; one such feature is the Personal Safety app. With this new entry into the Android ecosystem, you are able to ensure your emergency contacts can be apprised of your whereabouts and if there’s cause to be concerned.

Those emergency contacts could be loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, or managers. Anyone that should be aware of your location will be relieved that you are employing this feature.

But how does it work? It’s actually quite simple.

SEE: SSL Certificate Best Practices Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What you’ll need

As mentioned earlier, the Personal Safety app is only available for the Google Pixel line of phones. This is a shame, as this app should be installable on any Android device. Once you’ve used the app, you’ll realize just how important it could be for a large number of users.

That being said, in order to make use of this app, you’ll need a Pixel phone. However, your emergency contacts do not need to have such a device.

How to use the Safety Check feature

The first thing you’re going to need to do is configure your Emergency Contacts. For this, you can refer to my article: How to set up Emergency Sharing on a Google Pixel device. Once you have your emergency contacts set up, you can then begin using the Safety Check feature.

Note:  I ran into an issue where the Safety Check feature refused to work, due to an “issue with Maps.” The issue wasn’t clear, but after I opened Google Maps and allowed it to sync with my location, the Safety Check feature was working again. If you have the same problem, open Maps and let it find you.

With everything taken care of, open the Personal Safety app. From the main page, tap Safety check in the bottom-left corner (Figure A).

Figure A

The Personal Safety app main window on a Google Pixel 4.

In the resulting window, select the reason you are turning on the Safety Check from the top drop-down (Figure B).

Figure B

Setting up your first Safety Check on a Google Pixel 4.

When you tap the drop-down, you can select from four options or you can write a custom reason (Figure C).

Figure C

Selecting the reason for your Safety Check.

Next, select the duration you’ll be gone from the bottom drop-down and tap Next.

In the final screen, you can select which emergency contacts to notify that you’ll be gone (Figure D).

Figure D

Selecting your emergency contacts for the Safety Check.

At the bottom of this window, you can also opt to automatically notify contacts when you turn on Safety Check. Tap the On/Off slider to the On position and tap Turn On. 

Your emergency contacts will be notified you’ve turned the Safety Check on. 

In the final screen, you will see a summary of your check. When the check-in time arrives, if you don’t respond, your emergency contacts will be notified. You can also turn the Safety Check off at any time by tapping Turn Off in the upper-right corner (Figure E).

Figure E

The summary of your Safety Check.

If you pull down your notification shade, you’ll notice another very important feature–a safety check entry that gives you quick access to 911 (Figure F). 

Figure F

Quick access to 911 while the Safety Check is on.

When you arrive back from your outing, make sure to turn off the Safety Check. If you don’t, you’ll be reminded when the time you set has lapsed. If you do not respond to that check in, your emergency contacts will be notified and can act accordingly.

This new feature should be considered a must-have for many users, so much so that Google really needs to make this app available to all Android users.

Give the Safety Check app a try and see if you (or those who care about you) don’t come to depend on this new feature.

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