Google Pixel 4a vs older Google phones: Should you upgrade?

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
The Google Pixel 4a marks the second generation of Google’s affordable smartphone line, offering a tempting combination of affordability and premium camera smarts. If you’re a current Pixel owner contemplating an upgrade or simply out bargain hunting, the Pixel 4a’s value for money proposition is impossible to overlook, even if you’re currently rocking an older flagship-tier handset.
Should you upgrade to the Pixel 4a from an older Google phone? Here’s a rundown of how Google’s latest mid-ranger stacks up against its predecessors to see if it’s worth the upgrade.
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Google Pixel 4a vs Nexus phones

Google’s smartphone ambitions didn’t start with the Pixel series. Before that came the Nexus range and, honestly, major kudos if you’re still using a fully functioning Nexus-era device.
Aimed more at developers while also showcasing Google’s vision for stock Android, the last entries in the series, the Nexus 6P and 5X, launched back in 2015. Unfortunately, Nexus smartphones often weren’t the most reliable. Given the sheer age of the hardware at this point, they’re well past due for a replacement.
Related: Was the Nexus series really that good, or is it just rose-tinted glasses?
The Google Pixel 4a offers an affordable update route with more powerful processing hardware than those old flagship chips, the latest and greatest version of Android without the hassle of manual installs, and industry-leading camera capabilities. There’s really no reason to hold onto a badly aging Nexus handset any longer except for pure nostalgia.
Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 1

The original Google Pixel debuted in 2016, with flagship hardware in a 5-inch package and 5.5-inch screen size for the XL variant. The Pixel’s hardware looks a little dated by today’s standard though, even compared to the mid-range Pixel 4a.
The quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor is also slower than the mid-range octa-core Snapdragon 730G inside the Pixel 4a. This is thanks to more modern CPU core designs in Google’s affordable phone. The two are also pretty comparable with it comes to graphics, but you’ll probably get the best results from the more modernly optimized Pixel 4a.
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Google’s latest camera package can trace its root all the way back to the original Pixel, but the newer model benefits from dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus, optical image stabilization, and Google’s latest approaches to processing. The first-gen Pixel also doesn’t boast any fancy features like an IP rating or wireless charging, so there’s nothing to miss moving to the Pixel 4a either. They also both sport headphone jacks!
The original Pixel actually looks pretty dated too due to the thick bezels. But, perhaps...