Pixel 4a
Image credit: Google

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    Image credit: Google

    Everything you need to know about Google's Pixel 4a

    Check this page often for the latest on Google's new, low-cost smartphone.
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    This story was first published on July 15, 2020, and last updated on July 30, 2020.

    What is it?

    The Pixel 4a is an upcoming midrange smartphone developed by Google. Like the fan-favorite Pixel 3a before it, the Pixel 4a should deliver a clean, frequently updated version of Android 10 and great camera performance on a budget. Competition in the mid-range market is seriously stiff at the moment, however, so Google's latest phone has its work cut out for it.

    Pixel 4a leaked render
    Pigtou.com

    It’s also one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry. Google hasn’t officially acknowledged the phone’s existence, but we’ve already learned plenty about what makes it tick. Hands-on coverage? It’s out there. Benchmarks? Already available. Camera samples? You get where we’re going with this. In an age where nearly every smartphone launch gets spoiled far in advance, the Pixel 4a is probably the most thoroughly leaked device of the year so far.

    What's so special about it?

    Google's Pixels have a long history of camera excellence, but not because the company uses the best parts available. (In fact, it tends to rely on pretty unimpressive camera sensors.) Instead, Google's internal camera team has spent years developing computational photography features for its Pixels that deliver perfectly punchy photos with each press of a button. While last year's Pixel 4s had two rear cameras housed in a divisive square hump, the 4a is said to use a single 12.2MP Sony IMX363 camera, and we're curious to see how it'll stack up against its low-cost competition.

    And while the Pixel 4a broadly embraces the existing Pixel design language — down to the colorful power button and the square rear camera array — it packs one thing earlier models didn’t. The 4a will be the first Google-made smartphone to feature a hole-punch display, in this case to accommodate an 8MP front-facing camera. That might not sound like a big deal, but big foreheads and chins can’t help but make a phone look dated, especially when handsome competition like Samsung’s Galaxy A51 exists. Curiously, unlike last year, it seems likely that the Pixel 4a will only come in one size — that is, unless Google really does plan to release a Pixel 4a 5G this year.

    These leaked CAD renders, obtained by case maker Pigtou in early May, appear to be spot-on. Pigtou.com

    Beyond all that, though, we’re not expecting the Pixel 4a to be the world’s most exciting device. As mentioned earlier, it’s meant to run well, take great photos, and not cost too much money. The cost constraints that go into making a phone like this also mean that niceties like wireless charging, an IP rating for water and dust resistance, and the Pixel 4’s MotionSense feature are absent here. That may not be the most thrilling recipe for a smartphone, but we loved last year’s Pixel 3a and 3a XL because of how competent and un-fussy it was. If Google can keep that trend going in 2020, the Pixel 4a may shape up to be another fan favorite.

    When will it launch?

    Last year, Google launched its Pixel 3a smartphone at the start of its I/O developer conference in Mountain View. From what we've heard, that was the plan for this year too until the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak forced the company to reassess its launch plans. Despite some earlier rumblings that Pixel 4a could make its debut as late as October, Google itself has confirmed — by way of a cryptic teaser page — that the phone will be revealed on August 3rd. According to 9to5Google's Stephen Hall, Google is targeting a $350 price point, presumably for the base Pixel 4a with 64GB of storage. If true, that would give the company's latest cheap phone a slight — and potentially crucial — edge over its biggest rival, the iPhone SE.

    Key specs*


    Google Pixel 4a

    Processor

    Octa-core Snapdragon 730

    RAM/storage

    6GB+64/128GB

    MicroSD card support

    No

    Main display

    5.81-inch LCD display

    Display resolution

    1080 x 2340 (19.5:9)

    Rear cameras

    12.2MP wide camera with OIS

    Front-facing camera

    8MP camera

    OS

    Presumably Android 10

    Battery

    3,140mAh

    Charging

    USB-C, supports 18W fast charging

    Dimensions

    Unknown

    Weight

    Unknown

    Fingerprint sensor

    Yes, rear-mounted

    Waterproofing

    Unknown

    NFC

    Yes

    Headphone jack

    Yes

    5G support

    No, but a follow-up model might have it

    *These specs are based on current leaks and have not yet been fully confirmed.

    OnLeaks provided 91mobiles with these early leaked renders in December 2019. The images still seem largely in line with what Google's own imagery has confirmed, but we're not sure the white finish is still in the works.

    OnLeaks x 91mobiles
    Image credit: OnLeaks x 91mobiles

    Recent updates

    Google
    • 7/30/2020: Well, Google has apparently decided the time for secrecy is over. The search giant added a link to its Twitter bio pointing readers to a redacted Google Store listing. Complete the puzzle, however, and Google openly confirms the Pixel 4a will be revealed on August 3rd as expected. (Read our story here.)

    • 7/27/2020: The leaker Jon Prosser reiterated on Twitter that the rumored August 3rd announcement date is “100%” correct. That leaves us with just a week until Google officially announces the Pixel 4a, though it’s still not clear if the phone will be the only device the company reveals on Monday.

    • 7/24/2020: Someone with a Pixel 4a appears to have put the phone through another round of testing, this time including the popular Geekbench benchmarking too. Those tests confirm the phone will ship with a Snapdragon 730 chipset with 6GB of RAM, and the resulting scores put the 4a a notch or two below the regular Pixel 4 in terms of pure performance.

    • 7/13/2020: The Pixel 4a's imminent arrival wasn't much of a secret to start with, but Google just contributed the long list of existing leaks. Earlier today, the company accidentally published an image of the phone on its Canadian store page, conclusively confirming that the device will sport a single rear camera and a hole-punch in its display to accommodate a front-facing camera.

    • 7/10/2020: Noted leaker and YouTuber Jon Prosser suggested on Twitter that an imminent Pixel 4a launch had been scrubbed, and that the next likely release date is set for August 3rd.

    • 7/10/2020: 9to5Google reports that a 5G version of the Pixel 4a using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 chipset is also in the works, and suspects this device might be the phone some people thought was the physically larger Pixel 5 XL.

    • 7/1/2020: Google has just officially discontinued its Pixel 3a and 3a XL, which is as clear a sign as any that the company is gearing up to launch the 4a. (Read our story here.)

    • 6/23/2020: Oops! Black and blue versions of the Pixel 4a briefly appeared in two French online stores. The lack of a white variant and a larger XL model dovetails nicely with current rumors.

    • 5/13/2020: YouTuber Julio Lusson — who previously made waves by reviewing an early Pixel 4a — worked with XDA to publish the results of a series of benchmark tests. As expected, the 4a can’t quite match its more expensive cousins, but it stacks up quite favorably against last year’s Pixel 3a and 3a XL. Bear in mind, we were pleased with the 3a’s fuss-free performance (especially after seeing some of the issues Pixel 3 owners ran into), so a mild improvement sounds pretty good to us.

    • 3/14/2020: A Cuban YouTuber named Julio Lusson somehow got his hands on a pre-production Pixel 4a, and among other things, confirmed that it uses UFS 2.1 storage. While that isn't nearly as fast as the UFS 3.0 storage found in premium smartphones, it should mean apps should install and launch faster on a Pixel 4a than the prior year's 3a. (Read our story here.)

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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