Google's decision to make a budget-friendly Pixel phone in 2019 proved to be a huge hit.
It was the first time the company deviated from flagships since the rebranding, and was a welcome return to affordable handsets for fans of the Nexus devices which preceded them. This gives us high hopes for the Pixel 4a, which is shaping up nicely based on the leaked information.
Actually, there could be two or three, with XDA-Developers pointing to codenames Sunfish, Redfin and Bramble as the Pixel 4a, 4a XL and, for the first time, a 5G version. These codenames are linked to their processors, with Sunfish sporting the Snapdragon 730, and both Redfin and Bramble the Snapdragon 765, a new Qualcomm chip that has an integrated 5G modem.
Of course, this doesn't mean the line will have 5G, but it would certainly be interesting as an affordable 5G option.
Since then, XDA has found references to these phones in the Google Camera 7.3 update which shows the codenames next to "pixel_20_mid_range", effectively confirming the Pixel 4a rather than a Pixel 5. It seems most likely that sunfish is the 4a and bramble being the 4a XL. The site says that redfin is probably a development board.
This is contrary to an earlier rumour from YouTuber Dave Lee who claims there will only be one size of the phone and it will be the smaller, regular model.
Here's a summary of the most likely Pixel 4a specs:
- 5.8in screen, 1080x2340, 60Hz
- Snapdragon 730 processor
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB storage, non-expandable
- UFS 2.1 flash storage
- 12Mp rear camera
- 8Mp punch-hole front camera
- Rear fingerprint scanner
- 3080mAh battery
- Headphone jack
- Android 10
Pixel 4a release date
Although there was talk of the 4a arriving alongside the flagship Pixel 4 last October, that didn’t happen.
We’re not surprised, since the 3a was less than 6 months old at the time. Considering the 3a was announced in May 2019, we're expecting the 4a at a similar time of the year.
Google's I/O developer conference on 12-14 May was the mostly likely launch event for the new phone to be unveiled. However, like many other events this year, it's been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Exactly how this will affect the release date is currently unknown.
Google is reportedly looking into moving production from China to Vietnam where the situation is under control.
Pixel 4a price
With the Pixel 3a coming in at an affordable £399, we expect the Pixel 4a to be similar. It would be unlikely for Google to drop the price lower following the shaky Pixel 4 launch - even if those prices were lower than the Pixel 3 - so the price could even go up a little.
It looks like we were right as notorious leaker Evan Blass has posted mock-up billboards to reveal the Pixel 4a price will remain the same. That is $399 in the US so we expect the UK price to stay the same as well. They also show the new design with punch-hole camera which we will talk about below.
Pixel 4a specs
Google has made a name for itself thanks largely to the cameras available on Pixel phones. Its phones were the first to have more than one camera on the rear. So will that be the case for the 4a?
The latest rumours from 9to5Google suggest we might be getting a second telephoto lens, as was introduced on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Google still seems to think that's a better option than the wide-angle lens on many handsets, but hopefully we'll get both at some point.
This contradicts the renders and rumours previously heard, so we're not sure what will make it into the final version. The good news is that Google has proven it can offer incredible performance with a single lens, so camera performance should be excellent regardless of the number of lenses.
On the video side, we could be getting the ability to record in 4K at up to 60fps. This is usually reserved for high-end phones, so it would be great to see it here.
This hands-on video seemingly showing the Pixel 4a shows off things like a plastic rear cover, Snapdragon 730 processor, 5.8in screen with a 60Hz refresh rate and 6GB of RAM. Then there's 64GB of storage, including the UFS 2.1 chip for faster file transfer, and a 3080mAh battery.
There are supposed hands-on images of the Pixel 4a thanks to Slashleaks which show the front and back of the Pixel 4a. It's got a good screen-to-body ratio, punch-hole front camera and a square camera module on the back like the existing Pixel 4 phones.
Renders via 91mobiles also suggest one camera, along with a rear fingerprint scanner once again. It also shows the new look at the front due to a punch-hole camera. This is where the lens is completely surrounded by the display.
The cameras are rumoured to be 12Mp at the rear and 8Mp at the front.
The renders show a similar design and the screen will be a little larger than before at 5.7- or 5.8in with the latter being the more likely. A Full HD resolution and OLED technology seems to be the likely combination if you ask us.
You can see similar buttons and camera module compared to the Pixel 4 but it’s unclear whether the 4a will have Project Soli-based Motion Sense tech.
When rumours and leaks surface we’ll add them but we’d like to see Google add features like waterproofing and more storage options. A microSD card slot would be particularly for some users but, like Apple, it does look like Google will change this about the phone.
There’s USB-C but we’d also like wireless charging, however, it’s perhaps unlikely when Google is having to hit a much lower price point than the flagship model and also needs some reasons for you to splash out on the more expensive handset.
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