Despite being delayed after a rumored launch at I/O 2020, the Pixel 4a has finally been unveiled for the world to see. The handset is firmly priced in the budget market, and hopes to be a worthy successor to the extremely-popular Pixel 3a, which launched last year.
But this isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) budget handset aimed at turning the smartphone world on its head. Just last month, the OnePlus Nord was shown off, providing quite the impressive spec-sheet, with a major caveat. But how do these two devices stack up, and which is worth your money?
Opt for the Pixel
There’s not too much to get excited about with the Pixel 4a, as you won’t find 5G connectivity, there’s a smaller battery, and you are limited in both RAM and storage. We’ll start with the camera, despite the fact that it only has a single 12.2MP sensor. This is the same primary sensor found in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, which is still the “talk of the town” when it comes to smartphones, other than Huawei’s 2020 flagship offerings.
With this primary camera, you’ll be able to take advantage of the ultra-popular Night Sight functionality, and as you can see from Dieter Bohn’s review for The Verge, he was even able to capture the Neowise Comet with this camera. That’s pretty impressive, considering the cost of the 4a is only $349, unlocked. Another benefit is the smaller form-factor. With more devices getting bigger and bigger, having a smaller device is something that folks still want to have the option for. This is apparent when you look at Apple’s strategy with the iPhone SE (2020), and its 4.7-inch HD display.
The Pixel 4a’s display is more than an inch larger than the SE, but is also much smaller than that of the OnePlus Nord. So if pocketability is the name of the game, the 4a won’t let you down. Google also opted to bring back both the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, along with the 3.5mm headphone jack, two options that have been disappearing from other released devices, including Google’s-own Pixel 4 and 4 XL.
All of this brings us to the Pixel 4a’s biggest benefit over the OnePlus Nord — price and availability. The 4a is priced at just $349, and there’s a bundled option through Amazon to include a case for $389. It’s also coming to the US at the end of August, and more markets starting in September.
Go for Nord
Looking at the spec sheet, the OnePlus Nord wins just about every major category that you likely care about. Larger display, newer processor, more RAM and storage, more cameras, and the list just goes on and on. There’s a lot to like about OnePlus Nord, as the company is “going back to its roots” with this smartphone, instead of chasing the other flagship devices on the market as it did with the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro.
For those “spec nerds” out there, it’s important to point out that the Nord is powered by the newer Snapdragon 765G, and up to 12GB of RAm to go along with the option of 256GB of storage. The 765G is not only faster than the 730 found in the Pixel 4a, but also gives you access to 5G connectivity if you live an area where it’s available. Google has made the decision to wait until the Pixel 4a 5G / Pixel 5 launches later this year (specific dates unknown), for bringing that to Pixel fans.
In our first impressions of the Nord, we found that the device offers “an incredible balance” for the price point, coming in at around $500. There are a total of six camera sensors, with two on the front, and four on the rear. The rear camera system is essentially the same as the OnePlus 8, using the same 48MP Sony sensor for the primary lens. When it’s time for some selfies, you’ll have a 32MP wide camera, to go along with the 8MP ultrawide lens, so you can make sure to get everyone in the picture.
Another big benefit of the Nord comes with the battery. OnePlus packed its Warp Charge 30T technology, providing speeds up to 30W, which is pretty darn impressive for a phone at this price. That, paired with the 4,115mAh cell and it’s a combination that should last you throughout the entire day, and then some.
Just comparing specs is one thing, but there’s one large issue when it comes to the Nord, and that’s the price and availability. This phone is currently only available in Europe, and while there could be some iteration of the Nord arriving in the US, your only option of getting one right now is by using a site like Gearbest.