Yep, the Pixel 4a is around the corner!
Google surprised the world in 2019 by introducing ‘lite’ versions of its then-flagship Pixel 3 series – the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. The 3a series of phones brought a lot of the highlighting features of the flagship Pixel 3 series, like the outstanding camera experience, at almost half the price.
People didn’t see the phones coming, and (we guess) even Google didn’t see the sales coming. The 3a and 3a XL, as reported by Google in 2019, had already more than doubled sales of its handsets year-on-year, in just three months of their launch. The phones were runaway successes in the markets they launched in. Also, Google’s current flagships- the Pixel 4 and 4 XL haven’t performed that good in terms of sales (also considering they didn’t launch in certain markets, like India) makes all the more sense for them to launch something solid (and affordable) that helps them regain some market share.
With the success of the 3a series, it won’t be hard to guess that Google will most probably be launching a Pixel 4a series in 2020, that’ll follow footprints of the 3a series. Leaks, rumors, and expectations have started to flow in, and we have accumulated all of those in this roundup. Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming Pixel 4a and 4a XL.
Pixel 4a release date
There has been no official word on the release date of the Pixel 4a series yet, but considering Google launched the 3a series at I/O 2019, we can be almost sure about Google launching the 4a at I/O 2020. The dates for I/O 2020 are official, i.e., 12-14 May 2020, which is when we will most probably see the new devices.
Alongside the Pixel 4a and 4a XL, I/O 2020 shall also be the event where Google showcases this year’s Android refresh – Android 11.
Pixel 4a price & availability
Over the past couple of years, Google has kept a constant and stagnant launch pricing structure for its flagships. Both the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 4 launched at $799 (US), whereas the XL models started at $899 (US). Google is expected to retain the same structure for the lite models. That means, the 4a is expected to start at $399 (US), just like the 3a; and the 4a XL at $479 (US), like, you guessed it, the 3a XL.
There also have been reports of Google increasing the prices just a bit, because of added features and improvements, but if it happens, expect it to be a sub-$50 increase. Google’s goal with the ‘a’ series has been to offer most of what the flagship phones do, at a lower price, which is why we believe the phones shall still start at $399. Plus, in very competitive markets like India, there are some really good mid-rangers that could oversell the Pixel 4a if it’s priced anything more than 399.
There also are thin rumors of Google launching a 5G capable 4a XL, but we wouldn’t believe it just yet, as 5G isn’t available everywhere yet, it would have a significant impact on the device’s price, and we believe Google would save the experimental/exclusive stuff for their pricier flagship line – Pixel 5.
Pixel 4a specs & features
We saw Google replacing most of the flagship-grade hardware with mid-range ones in the 3a, and that is what is expected this year as well. As such, we shouldn’t be considering the 4a and 4a XL flagship powerhouses, but that’s kind of the point anyway.
CPU & storage
According to a software digging by the folks over at XDA Developers, the Pixel 4a (codenamed Sunfish) is touted to pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 SoC, which we’ve seen in recent mid-range devices like the Realme X2 and Redmi K30. This shall be an upgrade from the Pixel 3a’s Snapdragon 670.
In another model (codenamed Redfin), the Snapdragon 765 SoC is said to run the show. Interestingly, SD765 is 5G-capable, and this is primarily why we’ve had rumors of the 4a XL being 5G-capable. This could mean one of three things – either the 4a XL comes in a 5G-only model, or it comes in 4G and 5G models separately, or Google abandons the XL model altogether in favor of a 4a 5G model. Whichever is the case, we hope the price isn’t heavily affected by the inclusion of 5G (if Google decides to include it).
Regarding the storage/RAM, the 4a series is said to retain the same combinations from last year’s 3a series, i.e., 4/64GB.
Google decided to retain (almost) the exact same camera from the Pixel 3 in the 3a, but that might not be the case this year. Pixel 4 and 4XL were the first pixel phones to come equipped with more than one rear camera. The Pixel 4a (series) is tipped to come with just one rear camera, and the leaked renders and mockups also back this tip. Talking about numbers, the camera is expected to be a 12.2MP 1.4µm f/1.7 sensor with OIS. The good thing though, is that Google could still smoke the rest of the competition with just one rear camera, thanks to their amazing software processing, optimization, and AI tricks (like night mode and astrophotography).
For the front, the phones are tipped to come with a single punch-hole camera (first for a Pixel phone too), meaning Project Soli and 3D face unlock shall not make the cut. The front lens is tipped to be an 8MP wide sensor. Apart from that, nothing else is known at the moment.
For the display, the Pixel 4a is rumored to pack a flat 5.8-inch display, and the 4a XL to pack a 6.2-inch, most probably OLED, that have narrow bezels. The higher (90Hz) refresh rate is also mostly going to be absent from the 4a series, owing to cost concerns. There have been no leaks on the resolution of the displays, but it is probably going to be 1080p.
The 4a series is said to feature a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication. The phone shall also retain the 3.5mm headphone jack from the 3a. There are no words about the battery or the speakers yet.
In terms of software, it’ll most certainly ship with Android 10 out-of-the-box, but we’re expecting Android 11 beta builds to be available for the 4a (series) as soon as it’s launched.
Pixel 4a build & design
The Pixel 4a series is said to come in a polycarbonate housing, in 3 colors. The use of polycarbonate would make the phone lighter and (hopefully) more durable than both metal and glass builds. As for the dimensions, the 4a is tipped to have physical dimensions of 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm. This makes the 4a’s overall physical footprint smaller than that of the 3a, thanks in large to the narrower front bezels.
At the rear, the phone carries a minimal ‘G’ logo, a circular fingerprint sensor, and a square camera housing (that sadly has a camera bump).
UPDATE: 07/03/2020: A hands-on photo of the Pixel 4a supposedly leaked online, showing the phone in flesh (image attached below).
The leaked image shows the Pixel 4a from both the front as well as rear. We can see the rounded-square camera housing that exposes the flash and a single camera sensor. There’s the capacitive fingerprint sensor in the center, and a logo at the bottom, which isn’t the ‘G’ we’re used to see, but that might be because it’s a demo pre-production unit.
At the front, the display covers the majority of the area, and there’s a punch-hole camera at the top corner. From the looks of it, this display looks like an LCD panel and not an OLED. Oh, and yes, there is a cutout on the cover at the top, which means the headphone jack sits on the top of the phone. We also see a while-ish power button on the side, sighting Google’s use of contrasting, poppy colors for the power button.
What we wish to see
Some stuff is going to be absent from the Pixel 4a phones for sure, to keep the costs in check, but there are some improvements we would love to see Google implement.
1. More battery
The 3a was an awesome phone, but it only had a 3000mAh cell. While Google bets heavily on its software optimization for the battery, we would seriously wish to see a bigger battery in the 4a. With brands like Xiaomi and Realme pushing the numbers in the battery game, it would be awesome if we could see a bigger cell in the 4a.
2. More storage
The 3a was only available in a 4/64 variant. Seriously, Google? We had people complaining about the storage running out after some heavy games and media files. Everyone would appreciate either a 128GB variant (highly likely in the 4a) or memory expansion via micro-SD.
3. Stereo speakers
While the Pixel 3a series had a stereo speaker setup, we’re hearing some rumors of the Pixel 4a missing out on the stereo speaker setup. We wish Google manages to keep enough space under the narrow bezel above the display for the big earpiece speaker.
4. Some form of water resistance
Okay, this would be a bit of a stretch, but we’d love it if Google could give some form of water resistance in the Pixel 4a. We’re not asking for an IP68 rating, even basic splash-proofing would make people happy, as that can save the phone from accidental exposure to rain and water splashes.
Google did deliver a surprise hit with the Pixel 3a series last year and should be aiming for similar success with the 4a this year too. For now, this is all we have on the Pixel 4a series. We’ll keep updating this post with more info as and when we have them.