Used to be that if you wanted a new phone, you had to choose between something cheap and something good. But a recent slate of smartphones like the new Google Pixel 4A and the Apple iPhone SE offer an appealing compromise: Most of the features and processing power of a $1,000 phone for somewhere around $400. These devices come with some tradeoffs, of course. The cameras aren’t quite as fast, and the screen might not be buttery smooth or blisteringly bright. But the growing market for budget phones shows that premium features aren’t everything, especially at a time when people are less and less likely to splurge on fancy gadgets.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior associate editor Julian Chokkattu joins us to talk about the Pixel 4A possibilities and limitations of cheap phones.

Show Notes

Read Julian’s review of the Pixel 4A here. Read Adrienne So’s story about the duffel bag from The Expanse here.


Julian recommends the Herman Miller Embody chair (but don’t pay full price for it). Mike recommends the sci-fi show The Expanse. Lauren recommends Nice White Parents, a new podcast from NYT and Serial.

Julian Chokkattu can be found on Twitter @JulianChokkattu. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our executive producer is Alex Kapelman (@alexkapelman). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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