Google Pixel 4a leaked renderSource: 91Mobiles / @OnLeaks

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.

The current mid-range champ

Google Pixel 3a

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

Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XLSource: Alex Dobie / Android Central

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.

Here are the specs we're expecting

Google Pixel 4a leaked renderSource: 91Mobiles / @OnLeaks

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.

Category Google Pixel 4a
Operating System Android 10
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 or 765
Display 5.7-inch or 5.8-inch
Rear Camera 12.2MP
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB
Dimensions 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm

Being a mid-range device, the specs we're hearing so far sound about right. That said, we certainly hope Google steps up to 6GB of RAM as 4GB is starting to feel a bit stingy as we go into 2020. Similarly, one of the Pixel 3a's biggest cons was its base 64GB storage offering with no larger options or expandable storage available.

64GB is workable for most people, but we'd love it if Google has other models with more storage for folks that need it.

There's just one rear camera

Google Pixel 4a leaked renderSource: 91Mobiles / @OnLeaks

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

Front-facing camera on Pixel 4 XLSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

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.

It'll likely be announced in May

Google I/O 2018 signSource: Android Central

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 haven't heard anything regarding the 4a's release, but we're expecting it to follow this same formula.

The dates for 2020's Google I/O haven't been announced yet, but the annual developer conference always takes place in early May.

For comparison's sake, the dates for the past few I/Os are as follows:

  • Google I/O 2019 — May 7 - 9
  • Google I/O 2018 — May 8 - 10
  • Google I/O 2017 — May 17 - 19

Another year of affordable pricing

Google Pixel 4a leaked renderSource: 91Mobiles / @OnLeaks

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.

Pricing info has also not yet been announced for the Pixel 4a, but it'll more than likely be priced either the same or very close to the 3a. The 4a is supposed to be a lower-cost version of the Pixel 4, so it doesn't make sense for Google to jack up the price too much (if at all).

The Pixel 3a is still one heck of a smartphone

Google Pixel 3a XLSource: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

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

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.

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