Google's decision to make a budget-friendly Pixel 3a Series in 2019 proved to be a huge hit and a successor could be about to launch.
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, not least because it would make the 4a line the first Pixel phones to do so.
However, as well as leaking a possible launch date (see below), Jon Prosser has said the phone won't be 5G. He also says the 4a will come in 'Just Black' and 'Barely Blue' colourways.
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' was destined to be the 4a XL. The site says that 'redfin' is probably a development board.
A sheer lack of leaks for the XL model leads us to believe there might not be two sizes of the 4a after all. Perhaps the 3a XL didn't sell well enough or, for some odd reason, Google is holding it back for a later launch.
It really does seem like there won't be a Pixel 4a XL as case maker Pigtou has posted a look at the cancelled device. It's not officially cancelled, of course, but seems extremely unlikely now. The image also shows the smaller 4a looking much like all the other leaks.
EXCLUSIVE: The complete look of cancelled Google Pixel 4a XL (based on leaked prototype) and comparison with upcoming #Pixel4a#googlepixel— Pigtou (@Pigtou_) May 28, 2020
Thanks to collaboration with @xleaks7 pic.twitter.com/6SmYmYTCIz
This notion is compounded by an earlier rumour from YouTuber, Dave Lee, who claimed that there would only be one size of the phone and it would be the smaller, regular model.
Here's a summary of the most likely Pixel 4a specs:
- Android 10
- 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
- Possible 5G
- Possible $299
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 six months old at the time. Considering the 3a was announced in May 2019, we were expecting the 4a to arrive at a similar point this year but it appears to have been delayed multiple times.
Google I/O cancelled
Google's I/O developer conference on 12-14 May was the mostly likely launch venue for the new phone to be unveiled. However, like many other events this year, it was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Google is reportedly looking into moving production from China to Vietnam where the situation is under control.
We now have a possible date for the Pixel 4a thanks to German blog Caschys, which has managed to get hold of internal documents from Vodafone Germany. These suggest that the phone will go on sale on 22 May - likely the same date for other markets, too.
If that's the release date, then it seems like Google will announce the phone very soon. The Pixel 3a was unveiled a week before it hit the shelves so if this is the same, then the Pixel 4a launch date will be 15 May.
However, an updated blog post from Caschys now says that Google will be pushing back to 5 June - once again via Vodafone in Germany. It looks like this might be to do with the planned Android 11 Beta, launching on 3 June.
That's almost the Google I/O dates but considering the global pandemic, Google might leave a bigger gap between the announcement and launch. We've not heard anything official yet but will update you as soon as we do.
The latest news comes from Jon Prosser who leaked the iPhone SE and more recently plenty of details about Apple Glass.
He says the Pixel 4a is delayed further, with the current plan for an announcement on 13 July added "Seems like they’re ready to ship. The decision is mostly based on market analysis."
We expect the Android maker to announce the phone by way of a blog post and if you're thinking maybe the Pixel 4a isn't on the way for some reason, it looks like Google’s SVP of Devices & Services, Rick Osterloh has tweeted a screenshot from the phone.
Pixel 4a price
Notorious leaker Evan Blass posted mock-up billboards that echo our suspicions, citing a US price of $399 (just like the Pixel 3a), leading us to believe the UK price won't change much either. Blass' mock-ups also show the 4a's design, complete with hole-punch camera (more on that below).
One fly in this ointment is word that Google now may drop the price lower in order to undercut the recently-released iPhone SE 2020 - one of Apple's most affordable iPhones ever.
Sources have informed 9to5Google that the Pixel 4a may start as low as US$299 (potentially £299 in the UK) for the 64GB model and only US$349 (an expected £349) for the 128GB SKU.
source suggests that $349 price will be for 128GB model— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) May 14, 2020
If these latest figures are correct, whichever storage option of Pixel 4a you opt for, you'll still pay less than a base 64GB iPhone SE 2020 - an aggressively competitive move indeed.
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, and an extensive Pixel 4a camera review leak suggests this is very much the case.
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.
Read next: Best New Phones Coming in 2020