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Best phone in the US 2021: the top 15 smartphones you can buy right now

Google Pixel 4a

Image Credit: TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar)

13. Google Pixel 4a

Google's latest mid-range stunner

Release date: August 2020
Weight: 143g
Dimensions: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.81-inch
Resolution: 2340×1080
CPU: Snapdragon 730
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,140mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Great price for features+Good camera software+3.5mm jack
Reasons to avoid
-Battery barely lasts a day-Polycarbonate plastic back

The Google Pixel 4a is the successor to our favorite mid-range phone of 2019, and it retains a lot of the great features that made the Pixel 3a shine: great camera software, clean Android interface, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a great price. It's a solid pick for folks who want more for their money.

Why it's ranked 13th: A lot can happen in a year, and 2020 brought a more competitive mid-range market, especially against the iPhone SE 2020 with its better battery. The competition also reveals more of the Pixel 4a's shortcomings, from less battery life to a polycarbonate plastic body when similarly-priced phones have metal-and-glass bodies. Plus, there's no XL version, which is a letdown for folks who like more screen real estate.

Screen: The Pixel 4a has a 5.8-inch OLED display, which serves just fine, but may be a bit small for folks who prefer bigger screens. Then again, the edge-to-edge screen is significantly larger than the iPhone SE 2020's 4.7-inch screen and its fat top and bottom bezels.

Battery life: The Pixel 4a's 3,140mAh battery isn't small per se, but the battery life – having barely single-digit percentages of charge left at the end of the day, we sometimes found – isn't great. Especially when comparable budget phones, like the Moto G8 series, start at 4,000mAh of battery.

Camera: The Google Pixel 4a still only has a single 12.2MP f/1.7 rear camera, but it can work near-miracles with Google's software. Not only does that let it capture great night photography and portrait mode, you can even add depth after you've taken a photo. The phone also inherits the Pixel 4's astrophotography mode, which takes admirable shots of starlit skies. The 8MP front-facing camera is nothing special, but takes advantage of the software, too. 

Read our Google Pixel 4a review