Last May, Google dipped its toes into the mid-range smartphone market with the launch of the Pixel 3a. This year, we're expecting this strategy to continue with the Pixel 4a. Here's everything we know so far.
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have been on the market for a while now, and they brought a lot of new tech to Mountain View's in-house mobile hardware. However, with the Pixel 4a and 4a XL, we're not expecting a lot of this new stuff to make the jump to the more affordable models, although the lastest leaks do suggest some advanced networking technology.
Jump to section:
- Live photos appear online
- Fish codenames and potential 5G
- Launch date
- Design and specifications
- Price and availability
Google does not exactly run a tight ship when it comes to avoiding leaks - the Pixel 4 was one of the most leaked smartphones ever - so it's no surprise then that the Pixel 4a has been spotted out in the wild already. The launch event, which was due to take place on May 12, has been canceled, so it looks like we'll be seeing this phone for the first time officially via a live stream. However, you can take a peek at it today.
For the first time on a Pixel smartphone, it looks like we will get a hole-punched display. The hole is in the top-left corner of the screen. It looks as though the Soli radar technology that was in the large top bezel of the Pixel 4 has been ditched.
When we take a look at the back of the device, which in this image is covered by a first-party Google case, we notice that the fingerprint sensor is once again in the middle like it was on the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3a range. The camera module, however, looks to be the same setup as the main Pixel 4.
The good folk over at XDA Developers, thanks to a tip from Twitter user @akes29, have discovered three codenames for the Google Pixel 4a smartphones expected to launch this spring. Having dug through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the codenames were confirmed well as details about the SoC platforms each is based on. Each is fishy in more way than one!
Sunfish - the first codename to be spotted in the AOSP repository is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 730 SoC (codenamed sm7150). This is a common chip for the upper-mid-range market. Phones that feature a Snapdragon 730 today are the Samsung Galaxy A71 and the Realme X2.
Redfin - the next leaked codename refers to the what the XDA Developers think could be either a smartphone or a development platform, but it's running on the "sm7250", the codename for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765. This SoC has integrated 5G, which will fuel speculation that Google could be about to drop a 5G version in its Pixel 4a range. This would be surprising for us, especially given that regular Pixel 4 smartphones don't support 5G. However, by the time we get to May, there will be a lot more 5G smartphones on the market and Google could just do this.
Bramble - the third codename appeared on the AOSP multiple times and it appears to be running on the same SoC, or at least the same Linux kernel version 4.19, as Redfin. It seems to be in development with Android 10 and as well as Android 11, so there is no guarantee this is a smartphone yet, we'll just have to wait and see.
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL launched in May 2019. Google should stick to the same release schedule this year and I would expect to see the 4a and 4a XL sometime in the spring. Sales of the Pixel 3a phones were very good, so there is little chance Google will abandon the mid-range at this stage. We should see them at the Google I/O 2020 developer conference.
Thanks to new renders published on 91mobiles, some design choices about the Pixel 4a series can now be revealed. Unsurprisingly, the 90Hz display and Soli radar chip that were behind some of the more innovative features on the Pixel 4 phones will not be included in the more affordable versions. That means a return to the traditional fingerprint sensor on the back of the smartphones and a hole-punched display for the selfie camera rather than the large top bezel which houses all the face unlock tech. There should also be a 3.5mm headphone jack included on the new Pixel 4a phones, which will come as a nice surprise for fans of wired headphones.
The Pixel 4a looks like it's going to be a 5.7-inch display, which is slightly larger than the 5.6-inch Pixel 3a. On the back, we can see that the camera module looks similar to that on the regular Pixel 4, but rather than a dual camera Google has opted to include just a single camera and an LED flash. The charging port on the bottom is USB-C, but that's not a huge surprise.
In terms of power, we're expecting these new phones to come with either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 or 765, at least 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. There could also be a 6GB/128GB version.
The Google Pixel 3a launched at $399, and it seems likely Google will follow this guideline again. If there is not Soli radar tech and only a single camera, $350 would not be out of the question here either. The mid-range market has gotten a lot busier than it was 12-months ago and Google could reduce the RRP in order to be more competitive. We'll have to wait and see closer to the launch of the phone.
Are you excited about the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL? Let us know in the comments section below.