August 11, 2020
Google recently unveiled three new Pixel phones — the $349 Pixel 4a, available for preorder and shipping on August 20; the 5G-enabled Pixel 5, shipping in the fall; and the Pixel 4a with 5G, priced at $499 and also shipping in the fall. According to Google, issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the Pixel 4a from debuting significantly earlier. The Pixel 4a, $50 less than last year’s Pixel 3a and the iPhone SE, stands apart from several competitors with its camera and “clean version” of Android.
The Verge reports Google has stated that the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia will get both the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G. Google VP of product management Brian Rakowski stated that, “in the coming months … [the company will] share more about these devices and [its] approach to 5G.”
In addition to 5G, this version of the Pixel 4a is rumored to have “a larger screen than the regular 4a’s 5.8-inch OLED display” and possibly a second camera lens. Although the Pixel 4a will work with any carrier, only Verizon and U.S. Cellular will carry it and it will “primarily be sold online.” The Verge notes that, “U.S. carriers seem to have little appetite for any phone without 5G, and none have ever had much appetite to push the Pixel in the first place.”
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Pixel 4a comes with one screen size and one color (“just black”). The Verge reviewer said that, “Google didn’t mess up any of the basics on this phone … though it’s clear that costs were cut in some places.” It has the same camera module — Sony’s 12-megapixel IMX363 — as the Pixel 3, 3a and 4 and, “for photos, the Pixel 4a matches the Pixel 4 in quality.”
It also sports Google’s first hole-punch display, a 5.8-inch OLED screen that’s 1080p and “quite good for this price range.” The Pixel 4a also has stereo speakers and a headphone jack, “which is a rarity at this price point.” It ships with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, “double what the entry-level iPhone SE offers.”
The Pixel 4a compares favorably with the iPhone SE except when it comes to the processor: “the iPhone SE has Apple’s very best in-house chip, the Pixel 4a makes do with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G,” which is fast enough for now but might not be in the future. The Pixel 4a also has a “more traditional fingerprint sensor” rather than face unlock or an in-screen fingerprint sensor.” The phone comes with a three-month trial of YouTube Premium, Google Play Pass, and Google One.
The Verge notes that, “Google’s Pixel line has been a source of both controversy and consternation among the Android community in the past year,” viewed as falling behind competing smartphone manufacturers.
Google Pixel 4a Review: A Worthy Android Alternative to the iPhone SE, Mashable, 8/10/20
Google Has Already Discontinued the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, The Verge, 8/6/20
Google Kills the Pixel 4, Making It the Shortest-Lived Pixel Ever, Ars Technica, 8/6/20
Google Plans to Release a Foldable Pixel in Late 2021, According to Leaked Document, The Verge, 8/6/20