Google Pixel 4a vs Google Pixel 3a backs 1
David Imel / Android Authority

Competition in the budget smartphone market is thriving, and the long-awaited, heavily rumored, and continually delayed Google Pixel 4a is a gem. The device comes with modest specs, but also great value considering its drop-dead $349 MSRP.

Pixel phones are known for their camera performance, and the 4a could very well be the best camera phone in its price range. But is it worth the upgrade if you already own the previous-generation Google Pixel 3a? We decided to pit the two phones against each other in a Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a camera shootout to determine if the new Google phone is any better than its direct predecessor.

Our verdict: Google Pixel 4a review | Google Pixel 3a review


Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a: Camera specs

Things look identical in the Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a camera spec sheet. The only bit of difference is that the Pixel 4 comes with a slightly wider f/1.7 aperture. Regardless, Google’s camera prowess is mostly due to its software enhancements. In theory, this means that differences in camera performance shouldn’t be too noticeable. Let’s find out, though.

Pixel 4aPixel 3a
Rear cameras
Pixel 4a:
12.2MP sensor with f1.7 aperture
Pixel 3a:
12.2MP sensor with f1.8 aperture
Rear video
Pixel 4a:
4K@30fps
1080p@30fps
1080p@60fps
1080p@120fps
Pixel 3a:
4K@30fps
1080p@30fps
1080p@60fps
1080p@120fps
Front cameras
Pixel 4a:
8MP sensor with f2.0 aperture
Pixel 3a:
8MP sensor with f2.0 aperture
Front video
Pixel 4a:
1080p@30fps
Pixel 3a:
1080p@30fps

The samples

We shot a mix of shots with both smartphones at the same time. The variety of scenarios should help us find quality discrepancies and ultimately come up with a winner. Both devices were on their latest software versions as of writing, and both were set to “photo” and “portrait” modes for the given tests.

These images look very much alike in dynamic range, contrast, and overall quality. They are both crisp and well-focused. We only see a slight difference in white balance. The Pixel 3a photo looks a little bluer, whereas the Pixel 4a image has warmer tones.

Aside from human error in exact framing, these two shots look like they could have been taken with the same phone.

See also: The best budget camera phones you can buy

This is another instance in which the Pixel 4a managed to capture warmer tones in color. You can also see more uniform exposure in the Pixel 4a image, especially if you look at the trees to the left of the shot. Shadows are brighter, and highlights aren’t as blown out in the Pixel 4a image.

Again, there are warmer tones in the Pixel 4a image. Overall detail seems to be nearly identical, though.

More camera comparisons: Google Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE camera shootout

Want to see something interesting? Take a look at the coffee beans in the back. Notice they are blurrier in the Pixel 4a image. You can thank the slightly wider f1.7 aperture for that! Those who like bokeh might want to go for the newer Pixel, as it can achieve it naturally a little bit more easily.

Things are looking very similar in this portrait mode comparison. Both phones miss some spots in the outlining of the hair, but pretty much any phone will. Again, the Pixel 3a has slightly bluer tones.

Related: The best camera phones you can buy


Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a camera shootout: Worth the upgrade?

Now we want to hear from you: is the Pixel 4a worth the upgrade, or does the Pixel 3a hold its own? Be sure to check out our full Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a comparison to see how these devices compare beyond the camera with info on other features, design, price, and more.