Both the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a are Google’s budget smartphones—the Pixel 3a was released in May 2019 and the Pixel 4a was released in August 2020. But how different are these two budget devices? Well, the Google Pixel 4a has improved features, specs, battery capacity, and screen size, with the same good camera system. An added bonus is the Pixel 4a is actually cheaper than the Pixel 3a.

In this Google Pixel 3a vs. 4a guide:

Google Pixel 3a vs. Pixel 4a overview

The Pixel 4a is certainly a step up from its predecessor, the Google Pixel 3a, but what are the key differences? Below you can compare the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a side by side. It’s important to note that the Pixel 4a is actually a smaller phone than the Pixel 3a, but thanks to smaller bezels, the Pixel 4a actually has a larger display with a cleaner, more modern look.

Spec Google Pixel 3a Google Pixel 4a
Display 5.6-inch OLED 5.81-inch OLED
Processor Snapdragon 670 Snapdragon 730
Operating system Android 10 Android 10
Rear camera 12.2MP 12.2MP
Selfie camera 8MP 8MP
Storage 64GB 128GB
Battery 3,000 mAh 3,140 mAh
Colors Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish Just Black
Memory 4GB 6GB

Google Pixel 4a: What’s new

Google has made many improvements from the Pixel 3a to the Pixel 4a, with some of the notable upgrades below:

  • Bigger display
  • Cleaner, simpler design
  • Faster, more powerful processor
  • Bigger battery for longer battery life
  • More RAM for smoother multitasking
  • More storage capacity

What has stayed the same?

If you’re into having sophisticated, pro-grade cameras, you may be disappointed to learn that Google barely changed the camera system from the Pixel 3a to the 4a—not that the cameras are bad. They’re perfectly good cameras, and Google is known for its extremely good imaging software, but it’s always exciting to see what new photography features you can use on a new phone. The camera system is more or less the same as the 3a except for a small change in aperture.

Additionally, the Pixel 4a runs on the same operating system as the Pixel 3a—Android 10.  Both phones will be able to update to Android 11. This is great for Pixel 3a users since there really aren’t many older budget phones that are getting Android 11. In short, don’t let the new features of the latest operating system be a deciding factor when comparing the Pixel 3a vs. Pixel 4a.

Which is better: Pixel 3a or Pixel 4a?

There’s no doubt that the Google Pixel 4a is a better phone than the Pixel 3a, but just how much better is it? And is it worth it for you to upgrade? The Pixel 4a has some visual improvements like a sleeker design and slightly larger display, as well as a faster processor and bigger RAM allowing for smoother loading of apps and multitasking.

But at the same time, the cameras are the same, the Pixel 4a battery lasts only slighter longer than the 3a, and they both use the same software. Whether you should upgrade to the Pixel 4a depends on your priorities. If you’re happy with your 3a and it works perfectly, then there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to upgrade; on the other hand, if you love your 3a but are in need of a new phone, the 4a is a great option. Plus, the Pixel 4a costs just $350, which is $50 less than the Pixel 3a when it was released. And who knows, you may be able to get the Google Pixel 4a for even less than $350 since carriers often offer great Google Pixel deals.

Compare Pixel 4a plans

There is truly no shortage of places you can buy the Google Pixel 4a—major carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon as well as MVNOs like Metro by T-Mobile and Cricket sell them. And if you don’t feel like committing to a certain carrier just yet, you can buy a Pixel 4a through a retailer, such as Best Buy, and take it to whichever carrier you prefer.

Compare Pixel 3a plans

Although the Pixel 3a is about a year and a half old, it is still a great phone. Fewer carriers sell the Pixel 3a compared to the 4a, but you can find the 3a through a few MVNOs, such as Mint Mobile. You could also purchase the 3a through a third-party retailer, such as Amazon or Best Buy.

Other budget phones to consider

If you like the idea of a budget phone that can save you hundreds of dollars, but you aren’t sold on the Pixel 4a or 3a, don’t worry—there are plenty of other low-cost phones available for purchase. Some popular cheap smartphones include:

  • iPhone SE: $349-$399
  • iPhone 11: $599 – $699
  • Moto G Power: $249-$299
  • Samsung Galaxy A51: $400 – $449
  • Samsung Galaxy A20: $150 – $299