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

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

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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
  • What about Motion Sense and face unlock?
  • An announcement in May seems likely
  • We’re expecting a $399 price
  • Don’t count out the Pixel 3a

The current mid-range champ

Google Pixel 3a

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$297 at Amazon $300 at Walmart

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.

Google might ditch the XL and release just one version

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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.

The design has traces of old and new

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 4a 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.

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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.

Here are the specs we’re expecting

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Specifications for the Pixel 4a are still pretty up in the air. Based on the latest rumors and reports, here’s what we’ve established so far for it.

Operating System Android 10
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
Display 5.7-inch or 5.8-inch
Rear Camera 12.2MP
RAM 6GB
Storage 64GB Universal Flash Storage (UFS)
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.

There’s just one rear camera

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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.

Don’t hold your breath for Motion Sense and face unlock

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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.

The phone will launch in May…maybe

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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 Coronavirus. What does that mean for the Pixel 4a’s release?

Assuming Google was planning on using I/O to announce/launch the Pixel 4a, we’ll see one of two things happen — 1) Google will stick with the May timeframe and launch the 4a with a simple press release, or 2) it’ll get pushed back to a later date.

Another year of affordable pricing

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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.” That means we shouldn’t see a price increase compared to the 3a, but with the 4a “starting” at that $399 price, it’s possible Google plans on offering another storage model above the 64GB base version.

The Pixel 3a is still one heck of a smartphone

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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

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$297 at Amazon $300 at Walmart

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.