Google Pixel 4a
$350 at Best Buy
- Terrific camera performance
- Stock Android experience
- First in line for Android feature/security updates
- Compact design for one-handed use
- All-plastic body
- Single rear camera isn’t versatile enough
- No wireless charging support
Improving even further on the same approach used by its much-lauded predecessors, Google’s Pixel 4a offers top-tier camera performance, great battery life, clean software experience, and more at an affordable price. Yes, there are some misses, but they don’t change the fact that the Pixel 4a is an excellent overall package.
TCL 10 Pro
$370 at Best Buy
- Premium all-glass construction
- Fairly clean and snappy software
- Customizable “Smart Key” for added convenience
- 3.5mm audio port and IR blaster
- Quad-lens rear camera setup is just average
- Dated hardware
- Wonky in-display fingerprint sensor
As one of TCL’s first phones to make it to the US, the 10 Pro gets a lot right. Despite its budget price tag, the smartphone offers goodies like a premium all-glass design, a relatively clean software experience, and long battery life. The cameras aren’t the greatest, but given the price, they do the job just fine.
If you think only flagship Android smartphones come with the latest bells and whistles, Google Pixel 4a and TCL 10 Pro are here to prove you wrong. Despite being priced well under $400, each of these devices packs in a plethora of features, many of which are usually found in smartphones that cost several hundred dollars more.
For instance, Google Pixel 4a’s rear camera captures photos that are comparable (or even better) to those taken by some of the best Android camera phones out there. In fact, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the camera is the 4a’s best feature, as the rest of the hardware is just average. Google Pixel 4a also offers a completely stock Android experience. On the other hand, TCL’s 10 Pro features an all-glass back panel with a frosted matte finish that not only looks incredible but resists scratches and fingerprints as well. The 10 Pro’s premium build quality makes up for its internals, which are decidedly mid-range. Interestingly, TCL 10 Pro also comes with a near-stock build of Android.
That’s all well and great, but which of these two value-for-money devices is an overall better buy? Let’s find out.
Google Pixel 4a vs. TCL 10 Pro: Many similarities, few key differences
Before we get any further, here’s a quick side-by-side comparison highlighting some of the key specifications of Google Pixel 4a and TCL 10 Pro.
|Operating System||Android 10 (at launch, updated to Android 11)||Android 10 with TCL UI overlay (at launch, updated to Android 11)|
|Display||5.81 inches, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 1080×2340 pixels resolution (443ppi), OLED panel||6.47 inches, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 1080×2340 pixels resolution (398ppi), AMOLED panel|
|Chipset & CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, octa-core CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 675, octa-core CPU|
|GPU||Adreno 618||Adreno 612|
|Expandable storage||No||Yes, with microSDXC card slot|
|Rear camera(s)||12.2MP, f/1.7 (wide)||64MP, f/1.8 (wide); 16MP, f/2.4 (ultra-wide); 5MP, f/2.2 (macro); 2MP, f/2.4 (super low light)|
|Front camera(s)||8MP, f/2.0 (wide)||24MP, f/2.0 (wide)|
|3.5mm audio port||Yes||Yes|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes (physical, rear-mounted)||Yes (optical, under-display)|
|Battery||3140mAh (with 18W fast charging)||4500mAh (with 18W fast charging)|
|Dimensions||144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm||158.5 x 72.4 x 9.2 mm|
The TCL 10 Pro and Google Pixel 4a share plenty of similarities. Both smartphones are powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range chipsets, with each having 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. The display resolution is also the same on both devices, as is the presence of features such as 18W fast charging and a 3.5mm audio port.
That being said, the two mid-rangers also have their share of differences, perhaps the most obvious of them being the camera. While the Pixel 4a features a single 12.2MP primary camera, the 10 Pro comes with four cameras lenses at the back, including a 64MP sensor. TCL 10 Pro also has a memory card slot, while the Pixel 4a doesn’t. Thanks to its bigger battery, the 10 Pro is also heavier (and larger) than the Pixel 4a.
Google Pixel 4a vs. TCL 10 Pro: Design, display, and hardware
As far as design and build quality are concerned, the two phones couldn’t be more different. Google Pixel 4a features an all-plastic chassis that’s quite lightweight. While the plastic obviously doesn’t feel as premium as glass, it’s not cheap or flimsy either. The smooth back panel comes with a shallow physical fingerprint sensor and a slightly protruding rear camera module at the top left corner.
You get a 5.8-inch OLED panel upfront, complete with the hole punch camera in the top left corner. The screen works well with HDR content and is usually quite bright and color accurate. Moreover, the display’s relatively small size and minimal bezels help keep the phone’s overall physical footprint under control, making the Pixel 4a a joy to use with one hand.
Coming to TCL 10 Pro, this is a phone whose design and build quality completely belie its humble price tag.
The TCL 10 Pro is a phone whose design and build quality completely belie its humble price tag. The all-glass panel features a frosted matte finish that makes for a superb in-hand feel. The back is largely uninterrupted, except for a glossy strip running along its breadth at the upper-middle section.
This strip houses the phone’s quad-lens rear camera system, with all its elements, four lenses, and two LED flashes, sitting completely flush with the back panel. On the front, a 6.4-inch curved AMOLED screen takes up most of the space, with just a waterdrop-style cutout in the middle at the top for the selfie camera. The panel also supports HDR10 and comes with a built-in fingerprint sensor. While the big display is ideal for multimedia consumption, it also makes the 10 Pro a bit unwieldy.
Google Pixel 4a vs. TCL 10 Pro: One lens or four?
Like its predecessors, the Pixel 4a also has a single-lens primary camera setup, comprising a 12.2MP wide-angle module. On the other hand, the 10 Pro’s quad-lens rear camera system includes everything from a 64MP wide-angle module to a 2MP depth sensor. At least on paper, the 10 Pro seems to have the edge over the Pixel 4a. But is it really better? Well, if you’re even remotely familiar with the history of the Pixel series, you already know the answer to that question.
Google Pixel 4a’s single rear camera consistently churns out fantastic images with little to no effort.
Google Pixel 4a decimates TCL 10 Pro regarding imaging performance, proving once again that more lenses don’t automatically equate to better picture quality. Thanks to Google’s AI and computational photography chops, the Pixel 4a captures photos that rival those of top-of-the-line smartphones that cost almost three times than it does. Every time you click the shutter button, you get sharp and vibrant pictures with balanced colors and amazing dynamic range. Even when the lighting is not adequate, features like “Night Sight” make for some really great pictures. You also get 4K video capture at 30fps.
That being said, the picture quality of TCL 10 Pro is far from being the worst out there. If anything, the four lenses make for a versatile camera setup. For the most part, the photos captured in ideal conditions are good and can be made even better with a little bit of tinkering/post-processing. However, more often than not, these pictures tend to have inaccurate colors and messed-up exposure levels. There’s also a lot of oversharpening visible in the final shots, and switching to the ultra-wide module causes the overall quality to dip even further.
All said, if you also use your smartphone as your primary camera, we’d recommend getting the Pixel 4a over the 10 Pro.
Google Pixel 4a vs. TCL 10 Pro: Performance, software, and battery life
Both the Pixel 4a and the 10 Pro are quite similar when it comes to basic hardware specifications. Each comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, with the 10 Pro even having a card slot for memory expansion. The Pixel 4a sports a Snapdragon 730G SoC, which is slightly better than the Snapdragon 675 chipset that powers TCL’s offering.
Generally speaking, both smartphones perform well in day-to-day usage scenarios involving general tasks like web browsing, navigating the UI elements, and even playing a game or two. However, things such as multi-tasking and running graphics-intensive gaming titles do cause the devices (and their mid-range hardware) to struggle a bit, with hints of lag showing up every now and then.
For the most part, both TCL 10 Pro and Google Pixel 4a can handle the daily usage requirements of the average user just fine.
That being said, both Google Pixel 4a and TCL 10 Pro are more than capable of handling the usage workflows of the vast majority of users out there. And the fact that the software running on each of these devices is fairly clean certainly helps.
Google Pixel 4a features a completely stock version of Android, with no third-party apps or services added to the mix. You also get tight integration with all of Google’s digital products, making for a seamless usage experience. Oh, and the regular “feature drop” updates ensure that the Pixel 4a will improve even further as you use it.
Speaking of TCL 10 Pro, the Android experience isn’t a hundred percent stock, but fairly close. You get a customized overlay (called TCL UI) running atop the base operating system, but UI modifications are almost non-existent. TCL UI just adds some extra features that help in making the overall usage experience genuinely better.
Backed by a 4,500mAh battery, TCL 10 Pro can go up to two days on a full charge.
Launched with Android 10, both smartphones have since been updated to Android 11. While that’s awesome, Android 12 is just around the corner, and Google Pixel 4a will certainly be among the first smartphones to receive the newest update, as well as regular security patches beyond that. TCL 10 Pro may receive security patches for a while, but nothing is certain as far as Android 12 is concerned.
Google Pixel 4a comes with a 3,140mAh battery, which may not seem like much, but is actually more than enough to get you through a full day of use. This is likely due to multiple factors, including the smartphone’s mid-range SoC, bloat-free software, and the absence of power-hungry features like a high refresh rate display.
Interestingly, the same factors also apply for TCL 10 Pro. Couple that with the smartphone’s huge 4,500mAh battery, and you’ll easily get up to two days of use from this thing on a single charge.
Google Pixel 4a vs. TCL 10 Pro: Which should you buy?
There’s no denying the fact that both Pixel 4a and TCL 10 Pro are amazing smartphones that are filled to the brim with a wide array of interesting features, as well as a con or two. The 10 Pro boasts top-tier build quality, a slew of handy extras (e.g., customizable “Smart Key”), and a battery that can last up to two days with heavy use. However, the camera quality is just average. Conversely, the Pixel 4a gives you a stock Android experience and incredible photos, even if the phone itself feels a tad basic due to its plastic chassis. Given what they offer, it’s astonishing each of these devices costs under $400.
But as value-for-money as both smartphones are, our overall vote goes to Google’s Pixel 4a. It may not have a glass back panel or a curved screen, but the camera quality alone makes its case. You also get a reliable physical fingerprint sensor, a stock Android experience with a guaranteed path to the upcoming Android 12 update (and future security patches), and a compact and lightweight body that’s ideal for one-handed use.
Google Pixel 4a
For those who love taking photos
$350 at Best Buy
Google Pixel 4a offers class-leading image quality, a bloat-free Android experience, and more in a light yet well-built chassis that’s perfect for one-handed use. And with guaranteed Android updates, it’ll only get better.
TCL 10 Pro
Long battery life
$370 at Best Buy
Despite its affordable price tag, TCL 10 Pro offers features like a premium all-glass design, a quad-lens primary camera array, and a big battery that can go up to two days on a single charge.