Update: February 6, 2020 (4:35 PM ET): XDA Developers just found more evidence further linking the Google Pixel 4a to the codename “Sunfish” and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 SoC. We’ve updated the article accordingly. Read on for more details!
Original: February 1, 2020 (6:00 PM ET): Without a doubt, the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL were some of the most exciting devices launched last year. For under $400 you got most of what made the Google Pixel 3 great, including that amazing camera. Now it’s 2020, and all eyes are on the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL.
Ostensibly, the Pixel 4a series will attempt to replicate what the 3a series did: slash out the expensive hardware aspects of the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL while retaining the super-fast Android updates, rear camera experience, and Pixel-exclusive software features.
That’s a tall order, but Google seems up for the task. With the supposed launch of the Pixel 4a series only a few months away, we thought it was high time we compiled all the rumors we’ve found about the upcoming mid-rangers.
Below, you’ll find everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL. Be sure to bookmark this page as we’ll update it often as new rumors come to light.
Google Pixel 4a: Name and release date
Considering the Google Pixel series has stuck to the same naming convention since its inception, there’s little doubt as to the name of the upcoming mid-range entries in the series. Obviously, nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s a very safe bet we’ll see the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL launch in a few months.
But when exactly will they land? Google launched the Pixel 3a series at Google I/O 2019, so it seems reasonable to assume it will repeat that strategy in 2020. If so, that means Google will likely launch the new devices on or around May 12, which is when Google I/O 2020 is set to begin.
Google Pixel 4a: Design
As has become the norm, we already have a decent idea of what the Google Pixel 4a will look like thanks to serial leaker @OnLeaks. The renders below, based on CAD files supplied to factories that actually create the devices, tell us the most basic information about the Pixel 4a with relative certainty.
Check out the renders for yourself below:
As one would expect, the phone looks like a pared-down Google Pixel 4, which makes perfect sense. The square-shaped camera bump on the back of the device is a dead-ringer for the one on the Pixel 4 series, albeit with fewer lenses (looks like just one). The white colorway, Google “G” logo, and orange-colored power button all carry over from the Pixel 4.
However, there are some differences here. The matte-black ring that envelopes the Pixel 4 body is absent, the selfie camera is housed in a display cutout, there’s a headphone jack present, and there’s a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor here, too. The fingerprint sensor and display cutout make sense, though, as it would hardly be cost-effective to transfer all the face unlock tech from the Pixel 4 series to the Pixel 4a family.
Speaking of the Pixel 4a “family,” where are the renders for the Pixel 4a XL? Early on in the rumor cycle, the word was that there actually wouldn’t be a Pixel 4a XL. Instead, the rumor was that Google would only launch one Pixel 4a device.
However, this rumor is sourced from a YouTuber who is not at all known for leaks. To make things even sketchier, the YouTuber in question doesn’t cite a source for his information. As such, we’re going to go ahead and ignore this rumor, at least for now.
Besides, we’ve heard some other rumors that not only suggest there will be at least two entries in the Google Pixel 4a family, but we even have a decent idea of what processors they’ll have on board. Read on for more!
Google Pixel 4a: Specs and features
With last year’s Pixel 3a family, Google cut out quite a few of the high-end specs from the Google Pixel 3 family to keep the devices firmly in the mid-range. As such, you shouldn’t expect the Google Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL to be flagship powerhouses. But that’s kind of the point.
So far, the only hints on specs we have come from some software sleuthing performed by XDA Developers. They determined that there are three codenames related to the Pixel 4a series right now: Sunfish, Redfin, and Bramble. As usual, all three are fish-related.
As with the Pixel 3a, you shouldn't expect flagship specs with the Pixel 4a. After all, that's kind of the point.
Now, before you get excited thinking there will be three Pixel 4a devices, that is not likely. One of these devices (Bramble) is probably a development board — essentially a dummy tester device. The other two, Sunfish and Redfin, are likely real phones.
According to XDA’s further research, Sunfish is most likely the Google Pixel 4a, and it will probably tout the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset. We’ve previously seen upper mid-range devices such as the Realme X2, Redmi K30, and the recent Samsung Galaxy A71 house the same SoC.
This 700-series chipset is an upgrade over the Pixel 3a’s Snapdragon 670. While the extra processing power would certainly be nice, hopefully, this wouldn’t raise the price too much (more on that later).
As for Redfin, it houses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset which is capable of 5G connections. This is interesting as it could possibly mean that the Google Pixel 4a will be 4G-only while the Pixel 4a XL will be 5G-ready. Or, it could mean that the YouTuber mentioned in the previous section was (sort of) right, and there could be no Pixel 4a XL — instead, there could be a Pixel 4a and a Pixel 4a 5G.
Either way, the upgraded chipsets hint that the Pixel 4a series could be more powerful than the Pixel 3a series.
As far as other specs go, such as RAM, internal storage, battery size, etc., it’s too early to say at the moment. We also don’t know much about the camera system, other than the renders alluding to their only being one rear lens. Stay tuned for more rumors which will surely land in the coming weeks.
Google Pixel 4a: Price and availability
Over the past two years, Google has kept its flagship pricing simple and consistent: a $799 entry price for the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 and an $899 entry price for the Google Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 4 XL.
With that in mind, could Google try to do the same thing with the Pixel 4a series and keep it at the same pricing as the Pixel 3a series? If that ends up being the case, the expected pricing for the Google Pixel 4a would be $399 while the Pixel 4a XL would start at $479.
Google could possibly keep 2020 pricing the same as 2019 pricing. That's what it did with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4.
However, we have some pretty solid evidence to suggest that Google will be delivering a significant upgrade in the specs department for the Pixel 4a, which makes us think the pricing could go up. Certainly, if one of the devices is 5G-ready, that will definitely cause a slight increase in cost.
Ultimately, though, Google won’t go too high in price for the Pixel 4a series. The whole point of the devices is to offer a cheap way to enter the Pixel ecosystem, so raising the prices too high would be counterintuitive. As such, it’s extremely unlikely that Google would start Pixel 4a pricing any higher than $499. If it raises pricing at all, it will almost certainly still be sub-$500.
As for availability, that’s a tricky question. Google doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to offering its devices in many places around the world. However, since the Pixel 4a is geared towards price-conscious consumers and developing markets, it’s pretty much a given the phones will hit the United States, Europe, and India.
For as well-received as the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL have been, there’s still room for improvement. Here’s what we’d like to see from Google’s Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL.
1. More power
The Google Pixel 3a offers a Snapdragon 670 chipset and 4GB of RAM, which makes for a pretty standard, capable mid-range pairing in 2019. Our own David Imel noticed RAM management issues though, as well as photos taking a few seconds longer to process.
Hopefully the Google Pixel 4a is optimized for 4GB of RAM if it’s sticking with this figure, or Google introduces 6GB of RAM instead. We’re also crossing fingers for a chipset upgrade, as the Snapdragon 670 mostly lags behind the Snapdragon 700 series, such as the Snapdragon 710, 712, and 730 family.
More power can also help future-proof a phone to an extent, ensuring compatibility with new apps and games, and allowing Google to port new features to the device.
2. Splash resistance
The one major budget Pixel compromise compared to the flagship Pixels is in regards to water resistance, as the Pixel 3a series doesn’t have a significant IP rating.
Now, we’re not expecting new budget Pixels to be water resistant like high-end phones, but we’ve seen the likes of Xiaomi and Motorola offer P2i coatings for splash resistance on its low-end devices. There’s no reason why a mid-range phone like a Google Pixel 4a couldn’t have this coating either.
3. A bigger battery
It’s not uncommon for Xiaomi and Realme‘s budget phones to pack 4,000mAh batteries or higher. So hopefully Google gives the Pixel 4a a capacity bump too, even if it’s only a few hundred mAh. In fact, I’m sure there are loads of people out there that wouldn’t mind a slightly thicker phone if it meant more juice.
4. A second rear camera
Google insisted for years that a single rear camera was fine, but the company finally relented with the Pixel 4, bringing a 16MP 2x telephoto camera alongside the 12MP primary sensor.
A second rear camera would help the Pixel 4a series stay competitive with other mid-range devices, as rival brands now offer quad rear cameras on budget phones. We don’t usually see telephoto rear cameras on mid-range phones though, so don’t be surprised to see an ultra-wide camera if Google indeed opts for a dual sensor setup next year.
5. More storage options
The Google Pixel 3a offers 64GB of storage, which is certainly in line with mid-range smartphones today. But what if you need more space? Unfortunately the company doesn’t offer a 128GB variant, so this is definitely one option it should investigate for the Pixel 4a.
Another possibility is expandable storage, but Google hasn’t implemented a microSD slot in a Pixel/Nexus phone since the Nexus One back in 2010. Still, the company resurrected the 3.5mm option for the Pixel 3a, after its two previous flagships shipped without the port. It would also be a great move if Google decides to sell the Pixel 4a in more emerging markets.
Thoughts? What would you like to see from the Google Pixel 4a and 4a XL?