Here's everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 4a

Here's everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 4a

Let’s talk about one of 2020’s most anticipated smartphones.

Starting in 2016 with the release of the original Pixel, Google’s lineup of Android phones has been marketed towards people looking to buy premium, high-end flagships. That notion has continued to hold true, but in May 2019, Google decided to try something a bit different with the release of the Pixel 3a.

The Pixel 3a was the first mid-range Pixel phone to be released by the company, and it was an instant hit. Critics and consumers alike were immediately drawn to the 3a, thanks to its offering of great specs, solid build quality, and outstanding camera performance — all for less than $400.

We were absolutely smitten with the Pixel 3a here at AC, and now, the rumor mill is buzzing with information regarding its successor. From specs, design, features, and more, here’s everything we know about the Google Pixel 4a.

  • There may only be one model
  • The design is pretty interesting
  • Mid-range specs are expected
  • There looks to be just one camera
  • Wireless charging is probably a no-go
  • What about Motion Sense and face unlock?
  • You might have to wait until August
  • Pricing remains unclear
  • Don’t count out the Pixel 3a

The current mid-range champ

Google Pixel 3a

$279 at Amazon
$400 at Best Buy

Still a phenomenal value

Although we’re now eagerly looking forward to the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 3a is still worthy of your consideration. It has an impressive spec sheet, takes gorgeous photos, and will keep getting updates and security patches through May 2022. It’s also come down in price since its initial release, making it even more affordable.

How many models of the Pixel 4a will there be?

For every Pixel Google’s released, there have been two models of it — a regular and an XL one. We’ve had the Pixel and Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and so on.

This release pattern stuck around for the Pixel 3a lineup, with Google offering a 3a and 3a XL. The core design and feature-set were nearly identical between the two phones, with the only real differences being the 3a XL’s larger display, bigger battery, and steeper price.

With that being the case, we’d naturally expect that pattern to continue. However, on January 3, a report suggested that Google will be skipping the XL model for the first time and instead just release the Pixel 4a on its own.

Google’s apparently going this route as a result of disappointing sales for the 3a XL, and to tighten up its product offerings. Similar to how Apple has the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, Google would offer the Pixel 4a, 4, and 4 XL.

What does the Pixel 4a look like?

On December 28, 91Mobiles and @OnLeaks shared the first renders of the Pixel 4a. These folks are usually right on the money when it comes to these sorts of things, so the renders you see here are more than likely what the 4a will look like when it’s released.

The design of the Pixel 4a is pretty interesting, as it appears to incorporate things we have and haven’t seen in past Pixels.

Starting with the familiar, the 4a’s backside looks very similar to that of the flagship Pixel 4. It has a square rear camera housing, matte white finish with an orange-colored power button, and Google’s “G” logo towards the bottom. Unlike the Pixel 4, however, the 4a has a traditional fingerprint sensor positioned below its camera bump. The 4a also opts for a unibody design, where the 4 has a stark black frame that contrasts with its glass back.

We see even more changes when we look at the front of the phone. Assuming these renders are accurate (which they most likely are), the Pixel 4a will be the first Pixel phone to have a hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera.

The bottom frame houses the Pixel 4a’s USB-C charging port and speaker grilles, with the top frame being where you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack.

If you prefer hands-on images over CAD renders, we have you covered there as well. Hands-on pictures of the Pixel 4a were shared on Reddit in early March, and compared to the renders above, they line up perfectly. We can see the left-mounted camera cutout on the display, slim-ish bezels, and square camera housing on the back along with the fingerprint sensor.

What specs are we anticipating for the Pixel 4a?

On April 9, 9to5Google gave us a fantastic spec-dump for the Pixel 4a. Many of the phone’s specifications have been leaked and rumored up until this point, but this further reiterated a lot of what we’d already been anticipating. Based on that report, here’s how the Pixel 4a is shaping up.

Category Google Pixel 4a
Operating System Android 10
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
Graphics Adreno 618
Display 5.81-inch
OLED
2340 x 1080
Rear Camera 12.2MP
Front Camera 8MP
RAM 6GB
Storage 64GB or 128GB
Universal Flash Storage (UFS)
Battery 3,080 mAh
Charging 18W wired charging
Ports USB-C
3.5mm headphone jack
Colors Just Black
Barely Blue
Dimensions 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm

There was initially some uncertainty regarding the Pixel 4a’s processor, but in February, XDA Developers was able to all but confirm that the Pixel 4a will be powered by the Snapdragon 730. The Pixel 3a’s Snapdragon 670 was a perfectly fine chip for normal day-to-day use, but the improved speed of the 730 will certainly be welcomed.

Speaking of performance, a report from March 13 hinted at the phone using UFS for its internal storage. UFS stands for “Universal Flash Storage,” and it offers increased data transfer speeds for better loading speeds for apps and games. UFS is typically reserved for flagship phones, so having it on the Pixel 4a would be a real treat.

Does the Pixel 4a have multiple cameras?

Prior to the Pixel 4, all Pixels used just one rear camera. In a world where other companies are eager to slap as many sensors as possible on their devices, Google’s ability to use only one and pull off jaw-dropping results was certainly impressive.

We were ecstatic to see the Pixel 4 adopt a secondary telephoto camera when it released, but with the 4a, Google is going back to its single lens setup.

The camera on the Pixel 4a should be the same 12.2MP primary sensor found on the Pixel 4, meaning that it’ll be capable of capturing some truly beautiful shots. Having the telephoto lens would be nice, but we also understand its omission in Google’s quest to cut costs where it can.

On April 30, a tech YouTuber based out of Cuba took to Twitter to share a couple sample photos from the Pixel 4a compared against the Redmi Note 7.

Assuming the pictures are legit, they look darn impressive. There’s good detail, excellent colors, and not much noise even without ample lighting.

Shortly after that on May 3, more camera samples from the Pixel 4a were shared — this time in the form of a full camera review. The review notes that pictures taken with the 4a “have excellent detail, balanced noise reduction with visible luminance noise, adequate (but not best in class) dynamic range, and great color accuracy.” In fact, the review goes as far to say that the Pixel 4a’s Night Sight mode even takes better low-light photos than the Galaxy S20+. Some samples from this review can be seen below.

It’s hard to tell how these shots compare directly against the Pixel 3a, but once the 4a finally launches and we can get our own hands on it, we’ll be sure to put it through as many tests as possible.

Will the Pixel 4a have wireless charging?

Wireless charging is a hugely convenient feature to have on any phone, and while it wasn’t available on the Pixel 3a, it was present on the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 4. So, what about the Pixel 4a?

Unfortunately, wireless charging more than likely won’t be supported on the phone. There have been numerous reports denying the feature, not to mention the fact that it just wouldn’t make sense for Google to include it on a its cheapest phone of the year.

A case render from ESR (pictured above) was discovered in early June, supposedly confirming that the Pixel 4a will have wireless charging. However, these sort of product images for cases are often copied and pasted from other devices and aren’t always representative of actual device features.

Are Motion Sense and face unlock coming to the Pixel 4a?

Speaking of cutting costs, it doesn’t look like the Pixel 4a will have Motion Sense hand gestures or face unlock — two features that debuted on the Pixel 4.

The larger top bezel of the Pixel 4 was necessary to house all of the sensors and radar required for these features, and since that bezel is nowhere to be found on the Pixel 4a, we think it’s safe to say that they won’t be present on the phone.

And you know what? That’s just fine.

Motion Sense is a neat idea, but its current implementation still leaves a lot to be desired. Also, while face unlock on the Pixel 4 does work incredibly well, it’s still incompatible with a lot of popular apps. A fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4a isn’t as cool or flashy, but it is considerably more practical and useful.

When will I be able to buy the Pixel 4a?

The Pixel 3a was announced and made available for purchase all in one day during the opening keynote for Google I/O on May 7, 2019. We were expecting the Pixel 4a to follow that same formula and be announced at I/O 2020, but that’s no longer happening.

On March 20, Google announced that it was completely canceling this year’s conference in an attempt to further slow the spread of the ongoing global health crisis. What does that mean for the Pixel 4a’s release?

A typical launch event is definitely out of the question, and along with that, it looks like we’ll be waiting a lot longer than originally expected to get our hands on the phone.

There have been numerous reports trying to pin down the Pixel 4a’s release. It was first said that the phone would launch on May 22, then it was delayed until some point in June, and now we’re looking at a launch in early August.

According to tipster Jon Prosser, Google was originally considering a May launch. That got pushed back to June, and now the company is targeting an announcement in July. However, the Just Black color of the phone won’t launch until August 6 with the Barely Blue variant waiting until October 1 to hit store shelves.

That’s quite the delay, and it also likely means we’ll have to wait longer for the Pixel 5.

How much is the Pixel 4a going to cost?

The biggest draw to the Pixel 3a was its low price. The phone debuted with a retail price of just $399, with the Pixel 3a XL costing just a little more at $479.

Marketing materials for the Pixel 4a were leaked in March, revealing that the phone will be “starting at $399,” suggesting that’s the price for the 64GB model while the 128GB one would cost $449.

However, on May 14, 9to5Google‘s Stephen Hall reported that the 128GB Pixel 4a will cost just $349. If true, that means the 64GB Pixel 4a could cost as little as $299.

It’s difficult to say what the pricing will ultimately look like, but if Google can hit those $299 and $349 targets, it’ll be a serious competitor for the popular iPhone SE.

Should I wait for the Pixel 4a or just get the Pixel 3a?

It’s perfectly OK to get excited for the Pixel 4a, but that doesn’t mean you should count out the Pixel 3a just yet.

The 3a is still putting up quite the fight these days, and if you’re shopping for a phone right now that can deliver a winning balance of features and value, the 3a remains one of our top recommendations.

It still captures outstanding pictures, performance is as good as ever, and it’s now running the latest version of Android 10. The Pixel 4a is worth waiting for if you’re not in a hurry to get a new device just so you can see what Google has up its sleeve, but if you’d rather not keep your current phone for another few months, the 3a is absolutely still worth buying.

The current mid-range champ

Google Pixel 3a

$279 at Amazon
$400 at Best Buy

Still a phenomenal value

Although we’re now eagerly looking forward to the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 3a is still worthy of your consideration. It has an impressive spec sheet, takes gorgeous photos, and will keep getting updates and security patches through May 2022. It’s also come down in price since its initial release, making it even more affordable.

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