Google's most recent December Feature Drop delivered plenty of new features for the company's Pixel phones. But one specific change is still missing for many device owners: the new grid size options in the Pixel launcher. I know it sounds pretty minor, but a surprising number of people were looking forward to the feature, which allows you to set custom grid sizes and adjust the density of icons on your Pixel's home screen. It can even help with accessibility for those without much in the way of fine motor control. But, unfortunately, the option still isn't present for everyone.
The Pixel 4a 5G is a great phone for those on a budget, making it our current top pick of the Pixel bunch. The 4a 5G was already a bargain at $500, offering most of the features found in the Pixel 5 with only a few compromises, like the lack of wireless charging and high-refresh-rate display. Despite only being a few months old, several retailers are already selling it for $460 ($40 off), so if you've been thinking about buying one, now would be a great time to do so.
Google shook up its smartphone lineup during 2020, and part of that was releasing a new third tier of Pixel phones between the budget 'a' series and the flagship offerings. The Pixel 4a 5G ended up being the best of Google's three 2020 phones, and now a new color is available for anyone buying the phone unlocked.
January patches for Google's Pixels are now live, together with a decent set of functional patch notes. Outside your usual security improvements, that means Pixel owners can also look forward to a handful of fixes, including some sound fixes for the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, better automatic brightness on this year's phones, plus call improvements on certain MVNOs, and auto-rotation improvements across the whole currently supported Pixel lineup — no longer including the Pixel 2.
We live in a 24/7 world that has taken "work from home" to a whole new meaning and yet, Google seems to think we all live, work, and sleep the same hours. At least, that's what its Pixel phones with adaptive charging seem to think. That probably needs to change.
Astrophotography has been a favorite among Pixel users since its release in 2019, and it's continued to get better as Google's camera software evolves. When the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G launched with an ultra-wide camera, many were excited to see what it would be able to do in astro mode. Sadly, the quality was lacking, and now Google has disabled its use on this lens.
We learned a lot in 2020. About face coverings, about entertaining ourselves in our own homes, about staycations, and probably about making bread — or at least personally net carbohydrate profiteering off of someone who did. But in the realm of smartphones, one trend markedly stood out amidst a global economy (and frankly, just a globe) in turmoil: good, relatively inexpensive phones.
The OnePlus Nord, Galaxy S20 FE, and Google Pixel 4a shine brightest in the collective "value" Android smartphone cosmos right now here in the West, being from the three names most synonymous with the tech enthusiast circle in the handset space.
While Google did release a "flagship" Pixel 5 this year, I think the more budget-friendly Pixel 4a 5G has stolen its thunder. The sleeper-hit is basically a bigger Pixel 5 that's missing a few features, but $200 cheaper. That means skipping out on an IP rating, 90Hz display, a bit of RAM, and a metal (ish) build, but you get a bigger screen and a headphone jack, paired with with the same camera, internals, and the Pixel software experience. At just $500, this is my favorite phone of 2020.
Google recently released a big update for its Pixel camera, and it's packed with exciting new features, like a storage saver, better video effects, and some Pixel 5 and 4a 5G exclusives. But there's more — improvements to the existing framing hints are also rolling out. You may have already noticed that there are now two level indicators or two crosshairs, a familiar white variant and a new yellow one. You can use these to get perfectly level shots and top-down pictures. Here's how you do it.