Google Pixel 4a vs OnePlus Nord | full comparison

So what we've got ourselves here is the battle of the mid-range android heavyweights to freshly launch some 400-pound smartphones that offer impressive value for money. Here we’ve got Google’s pixel 4 here which finally launched after months and months of speculation and on the other we have the very impressive oneplus nord. The pixel 4a is just about cheaper of this pair at 349 usd but you do have a bit of a wait on your hands if you fancy one because it won't be available until October, the first on the google store. The oneplus nord on the other hand will cost you a round of drinks extra this starts at 379 usd but it does go on sale from august.

The big question of course is which one is best for you well let's do a full comparison of the pixel 4a and the oneplus nord to see how they stack up for camera, tech, performance, battery life and everything else you need to know.


let's start with the design, and when I first got my eyes on the oneplus nord, I gotta admit I thought it was a really nicely compact smartphone compared with a lot of the handsets I’ve handled in 2020, it's just 6.44 inches but the pixel 4a it is even more hand pleasing at a positively dinky 5.8 inches. And when you size the two of them up side by side, it's quite clear that the google pixel 4 is the one to go for if you're after a mini mobile.

Now if you flip these phones around to the back you get quite a different design on both of them too. With the nord you get this absolutely stunning marble blue finish although it is available in a straight forward black if you're still embracing your inner ego meanwhile the pixel 4 is only available in the one colour unfortunately which is rather simply titled “just black”. So it goes without saying the oneplus nord in this mobile blue finish is my preferred version. And also it's a lot harder than the google pixel 4a as well you actually get gorilla glass 5 front and back uh whereas of course the google pixel 4 is just plastic here on the back and both these ones are actually pretty good at hiding greasy fingerprints and other smudgy marks and things like that. You might expect that it appears more easily on the glossy arse here on the oneplus store but actually they do show up a little bit on the pixel 4a despite that dark matte finish.

When you unlock your phone you've got an in-display fingerprint sensor here on the oneplus nord, nippy and responsive but I had no issues with that whatsoever. But you actually get a rear mounted physical fingerprint sensor here on the pixel 4a, very old school and again nice and responsive just a quick tap of your finger to that sense and again it'll straight in. Here on the oneplus nord you've also got the alternative option of face unlock as well which is something that you don't get supported on the pixel 4a.


So now let's talk software and naturally you get the latest android 10 on both of these smartphones otherwise slightly different tweaks. Now first up one of the best bits about the software on both these smartphones is the fact that they are very well supported (for the user). The google pixel 4a of course naturally you'll get three years of OS updates and security updates thrown in there as well and the oneplus nord as well not far behind two guaranteed years of OS updates and three for the security again that's just a good bit of added peace of mind, something you don't get from quite a lot of other manufacturers.

Now the pixel 4a as it is of course a google branded handset does support a very stock version of android 10 although you do get a few pixel exclusive features on here that you won't find on other android smartphones. So for instance you've got Google’s recorder app which can actually transcribe audio just like that pixel 4 flagship very handy for students and if you're doing interviews things like that and of course you've got that infamous “now playing” feature which can listen in 24 hours a day and pick up on any songs that are playing in your vicinity and jot them down. Now oneplus thankfully hasn't tinkered with the best android elements on there, here you've got full-on dark mode, you've got those great gesture navigation controls all the good stuff but oneplus has slathered its usual oxygen OS launcher on top of android10, which to be fair retains a very stock look and feel while also adding in a few great bonus bits. The best to these is probably the game space feature something you don't get on the pixel 4a, which can block notifications and fine-tune your performance etc. while you're gaming.



Now with both of these phones we've also got a form of always on display as well it is actually always on in the case of the pixel 4a but with the oneplus you do have to actually tap the screen in order to bring it up. Again that's really handy just for seeing if you've got any weight notifications or anything so you know whether to bother unlocking your smartphone.

Now when it comes to streaming video well both of these phones boast a gorgeous O-led display the nord is of course bigger but either is perfectly comfortable for enjoying a good bit of Netflix, Disney plus or whatever. The full HD+ resolution keeps images nice and sharp on both of these smartphones and you've got full HDR support on the likes of Netflix as well so you can really indulge in those nice sharp contrast, the natural colours and everything too. 


By default I definitely noticed that the colors were a little bit warmer and a little bit punchier here on the oneplus nord but that's because the vibrant color effect setting is activated by default. Here in google pixel 4a color settings is adaptive by default but you can switch that up to boost it if you do like those warmer hues.

Unfortunately one option that you get in the oneplus note that you don't get in the pixel 4a here is to do with the refresh rate you can boost it from 60 hertz to 90 hertz for a really silky smooth finish absolutely gorgeous stuff, makes that performance seem all the better and sadly here on the google pixel 4a it tops off at 60 hertz as you don't get any of that gorgeous 90 hertz action. I’m sure it's certainly not an essential feature but it is very much a nice to have that of course.

One disadvantage of the nord compared with the pixels is that, you get this big fat dual selfie cut-out wedge there in the corner whereas it's just a single dinky little orifice here on the pixel 4a. That said if it does bother you at least here on the oneplus nord you do have the option of hiding it from view, it's not exactly an elegant solution it basically just squishes the screen a bit but its there if you want it and that's an option you don't seem to get here on the pixel 4a here you're stuck with that orifice whenever you go full view.


As for the audio where you do get a so-called stereo speaker set up here on the pixel 4a. Here that earpiece is actually used for media as well but it's very tinny. Let’s face it, it's that bottom firing speaker that is pulling the real grunt of the weight. The oneplus nord is just a bottom firing mono speaker setup works absolutely fine both of them are still perfectly loud and clear on that top volume, fine for kicking back with some YouTube or Netflix action while you're working. If you dive into the sound settings here on the oneplus nord you've also got an audio tuner which can dynamically change the audio effects depending on what you're doing watching a movie or listening to some music etc. just to really get the most out of your sound. Unfortunately you don't get that kind of option or any kind of equalizer anything here on the pixel and both of these phones offer the brilliant live caption feature as well which actually throws up text uh dynamically while you're watching a video or something it's not quite perfect but it's great.



Now let's move on to performance where the oneplus nord is once again the victor you've got QUALCOMM snapdragon 765G chipset packed in there whereas the pixel 4 got the snapdragon 730G and while google is pretty generously stuffed 6 gigs of ram into the pixel 4a and you get eight gigs as standard in the oneplus or you can actually upgrade that to 12 gigabytes if you throw some more cash. The snapdragon 765G inside the oneplus nord is more naturally suited to gaming on the go, that adreno GPU has been given a bit of a boost and I found that yeah you get a perfect frame rate on the likes of call of duty and pubg on those high detail settings no worries whatsoever. That said I have tested out call of duty again on those very high detail settings here on the pixel 4a and again it ran perfectly smooth no worries whatsoever. So it's definitely giving you a competitive edge if you are a bit of a mobile gaming fan. That said over time the oneplus nord should fare better with the latest android titles. And both these smartphones come with 128 gigs of storage as standards that's the base level but neither offers micro-SD memory card expandability sadly. 

Another benefit of that 765g chipset is the fact that it comes with a built-in 5g modem as well so the nord is fully 5g ready when those networks do eventually roll out across the country. In the case of the google pixel 4a as the nord 5g support so you don't get that bit of future proofing. 


Now one of the potential drawbacks of the pixel 4a is dinky size is the fact you've only got a 3140 milliamp cell stuffed in there with 18 watt fast charging and that's compared with the mighty 4115 milliamps stuffed inside the nord which busts faster 30 watt fast charging. However the oneplus nord's battery does actually drain pretty quickly it'll just about see you through a fairly intensive day, although you will just about be scraping it on occasions as I have. In the case of the pixel thankfully that battery drains much slower so you'll easily get a full day of use even with lots of stuff on the go.


But one feature that you'll find in the oneplus nord that you won't find on the pixel that I absolutely love is the optimized charging. What this does is it makes sure it doesn't overcharge the oneplus node's battery if you leave it plugged in overnight, which of course most of us are guilty of doing. Hopefully over the long term that'll just prevent any damage, which will of course reduce your battery life in the case of the pixel 4a you'll just have to get into good habits and try not to leave it charging all night long. 


Now let's take a look at the camera tech and as you can see it's a very different setup on the oneplus nord compared with the google pixel 4a. Here of course you've got this pretty much standard quad lens setup here on the oneplus whereas the google smartphone actually comes packing just a single rear camera lens which is a very rare beast indeed in 2020.


Now single shooter on the google pixel 4a is a 12 megapixel effect whereas here on the oneplus nord it's a 48 megapixel primary lens using Sony’s IMAX 586 sensor. It does shoot at 12 megapixels by default you can quickly boost up to that maximum 48 megapixel resolution. Now both phones are all great but the google pixel 4a is unsurprisingly better at shooting everyday photos. When it comes to the colour capture the pixel just about edges out the oneplus offering impeccably natural hues in any kind of conditions. When it comes to the HDR smarts the oneplus note performs quite admirably, certainly better than previous oneplus but in the case of the google pixel 4a again it's the winner. You’ve actually got full control over the darker elements you can brighten those up separately to the rest of the photo and give yourself a nice gorgeously balanced shot when you need it.                                   

When it comes to proper low-light shots well the pixel's night board is again the winner hands down. Somehow managing to once again serve up photos with accurate colours as well as sharp detail while everything looks that little bit warmer on the oneplus nord and it's a thumbs up for the portrait smarts on both the oneplus note and the pixel 4a here as well from the pixel 4a you did really well with that single lens setup as it doesn't have the “depth sensor” that the oneplus nord does We still got that gorgeous blocky background effect. Of course with that multi-lens setup here on the oneplus note you do also have an “8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens” that you can play around with slightly obviously distorts the image and you get slightly warmer colors too but you know it does offer a bit of extra flexibility for those who want it. You do also have a dedicated “macro lens” on the oneplus nord as well which I’ve got to admit I find pretty much pointless.


 If you took the oneplus nord and the pixel 4a into video mode as well we can shoot upto 4k resolution footage on both of these handsets decent image stabilization. Actually have a dedicated stabilizer mode here on the oneplus nord, strong audio pickup and everything as well so great looking stuff.

Let’s finish up with my favourite part of these uh camera comparisons the selfie camera of course you get modest 8 megapixel sensor here on the google pixel 4 whereas the oneplus nord actually upgrades that to a 32 megapixel sensor. But all the same I found that certainly in strong light and things like that you actually get better detail out of the pixel 4a, definitely a lot better than the oneplus nord does. But again with the nord you get that extra camera lens flexibility so you can actually swap to a separate I believe its eight megapixel and ultra-wide angle lens where you can give a little bit more breathing space.

There you have it, that's how the fresh new google pixel 4a stacks up against the also pretty damn fresh oneplus nord and the question is of course which one do you prefer as you can see they offer a very different proposition for a very similar sort of price do let me know in comments below.


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