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Google Pixel 4a camera samples are amazing — and that’s bad for iPhone SE

Pixel 4a sample photos
(Image credit: TecnoLike Plus)

The Google Pixel 4a leaks to date have told us a lot about the upcoming phone's design and performance, but very little regarding its camera quality. Now one blogger has gotten their hands on a pre-release model and went on a photo-taking spree, giving us a complete picture of the Pixel 4a's imaging capabilities.

Based on the camera capabilities of the Pixel 4a and the shots we've seen so far, Apple's iPhone SE could be in trouble.

The post comes courtesy of TecnoLike Plus out of Cuba. We originally covered impressions from TecnoLike's Julio Lusson a few days back, though the site has since updated their initial camera review with many more samples and a YouTube video that dives even deeper into the new collection of images.

Overall, this early analysis of the Pixel 4a's camera seems to be a favorable one. Judging from the photos TecnoLike has shared, it's easy to see why.

First, the specs. Just as many had anticipated, the Pixel 4a repurposes the same 12.2-megapixel sensor and ƒ/1.78 wide-angle lens first used in the Pixel 3, then the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4. On the front, an 8-MP, ƒ/2.0 shooter handles selfie duties.

You'll miss out on the additional telephoto shooter for improved hybrid zoom and portraits that the Pixel 4 has, but even so — getting the very same rear camera as Google's flagship in a device that costs just $400 made last year's Pixel 3a quite a steal, and it seems history is about to repeat itself. 

Pixel 4a sample photos

(Image credit: TecnoLike Plus)

But the photos speak for themselves. Some of the shots in TecnoLike's report are jaw-dropping — especially the one above, overlooking a forest. There are flagship phone cameras that will set you back twice or even three times what the Pixel 4a will probably cost that fail to deliver the kind of dynamic range you see here.

Even details deep within the shadows of the trees in the foreground are clear, yet somehow not artificially over-brightened at the expense of contrast. It's truly an impressive scene.

Pixel 4a sample photos

(Image credit: TecnoLike Plus)

Also impressive is what the Pixel 4a can do at night with Night Sight. Google's closest competitor here, Apple's brand-new iPhone SE 2020, lacks a comparable night mode, meaning the Pixel 4a has an advantage here simply by showing up. But lots of other handsets have low-light modes these days, and Google's implementation has always been one of the best. Behold how sharp those stars are up above, the gradient of the sky and the crisp focus on those trees immediately ahead.

Pixel 4a sample photos

(Image credit: TecnoLike Plus)

Despite only having one rear lens, the Pixel 4a can capture excellent shallow depth-of-field bokeh shots as well, judging from this example taken next to a pool. The subject is clearly in focus and isolated from the blur behind; the bokeh itself is high-quality; and you can even make out the droplets of water suspended in mid-air in the background. Nothing is blown out or underexposed, and once again, this is simply an expertly-balanced image that you typically don't see from cheap phones.

Overall, it's hard not to be impressed with what Google's apparently been able to pull off yet again with the Pixel 4a. This phone might not have a dazzling 108-MP sensor or a time-of-flight optic to suss out depth, but then, it seemingly doesn't need one. It's a reminder that one well-crafted camera can beat several, if you know what you're doing.

And you shouldn't have to wait long to get your hands on one. Leaked internal documents from European carrier Vodafone hint that Google's next budget Pixel could arrive by the end of this month — May 22, to be exact. When it does drop, you can be sure we will put that camera through its paces, not to mention head-to-head against the iPhone SE's.

When was the last time cheap phones were this exciting?