Google caused a stir in 2019 when it announced the Pixel 3a — a smartphone priced at just $399, but with the same industry-leading camera technology as the rest of the Pixel family. Apple then countered with its equally-priced iPhone SE earlier in 2020. Now Google is set to reveal the Pixel 4a.
Potentially just around the corner, here is everything we know so far about the Pixel 4a, a phone that could be the ideal choice for Android fans on a budget in 2020.
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Google Pixel 4a: Release date
Google was forced to cancel its annual I/O developer conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the company had planned to host a digital event on June 3, featuring the new Android 11 beta and potentially mark the launch of the Pixel 4a.
However, Google announced on May 30 that the event would again be delayed. Google's Android Developers Twitter account said: "We are excited to tell you more about Android 11, but now is not the time to celebrate. We are postponing the June 3rd event and beta release. We'll be back with more on Android 11, soon."
According to reliable technology leaker Jon Prosser, the Pixel 4a is instead expected to arrive in mid-July, a delay that he says is due to "market conditions" and not that the phone isn't ready to go. Prosser also said the phone will be offered in 'Just Black' and 'Barely Blue,' continuing Google's tongue-in-cheek color naming convention.
Google Pixel 4a: Design
Just like the Pixel 3a before it, we expect the 4a to borrow much of its design from the Pixel 4, but in a more cost-effective way. That means plastic will likely be used for the majority of the body, albeit in a way that looks very similar to the pricier Pixel 4.
Images claimed to be of the Pixel 4a in a protective case were posted to Twitter by TechDroider on March 7. They show a new hole-punch camera in the top-left corner of the display, and a new square rear camera module, but with just one lens.
Also visible on those images is a headphone jack at the top — something of a rarity on new smartphones in 2020 — and the usual USB-C port at the bottom.
Renders published by 91Mobiles show the familiar circular fingerprint reader below the camera module. The reader was removed for the Pixel 4, Google instead asking owners to use the phone's facial recognition system. It is likely being reinstated on the Pixel 4a as a cost-saving measure, and to help differentiate the two handsets, with the cheaper using older biometric technology.
According to YouTuber Dave Lee, the Pixel 4a measures 5.7 x 2.7 x 0.32 inches, making it shorter than the Pixel 3a, thanks to a smaller screen bezel and more compact front camera module.
Google Pixel 4a: Camera
As mentioned above, it looks like the Pixel 4a will make do with a single camera and at the front, and just one in the rear.
The latter is expected to have a 12.2-megapixel sensor, and thanks to Google's market-leading computational photography technology, we expect the Pixel 4a to take excellent photos, day and night. It will likely miss out on the Pixel 4's 16-megapixel telephoto lens, but should still produce top-notch images.
The front camera houses in the punch-hole cutout is expected to have an eight megapixel sensor, just like that of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4.
Google Pixel 4a: Display
The screen is expected to be slightly bigger than that of the Pixel 3a, stretching from 5.6 to 5.81-inches, according to a Geekbench test of the phone using its internal name of Google Sunfish.
That same test also revealed 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which are both respectable figures for a phone expected to cost just under $400.
We expect to see the return of the same AMOLED display technology as the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4, albeit probably without the 90Hz refresh rate of the latter. This would be a major highlight for a $400 phone, but for now we think higher refresh rates will be reserved to flagship handsets until at least 2021.
Google Pixel 4a: 5G and other features
It has been suggested that Google will not include its Active Edge feature on the Pixel 4a. A feature on all previous Pixel phones, Active Edge was a way to summon the Google Assistant by squeezing the sides of the phone.
We suspect its removal for the 4a is partly a cost-saving measure, but also an indication that it isn't used often enough by Pixel fans to warrant its inclusion.
As for 5G connectivity, this seems unlikely. The Pixel 4a is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 730 processor, which doesn't support 5G. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as no Pixel phone currently has 5G, and Google wouldn't bring the technology to its cheaper model first.
Pixel fans wanting a 5G handset will have to wait for the appropriately-named Pixel 5, which is due out in the fall.
We will update this article as more information about the Pixel 4a comes to light.
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