The Google Pixel 4a was supposed to be the hotly anticipated follow-up to the Pixel 3a, an affordable Pixel phone that offered the Google camera experience we love with great software and an affordable price. But as this global pandemic shows no signs of slowing (at least in the US), we are still tracking and waiting for the 4a, which we all thought would have been here by now.
Because this story has gone on long enough, this Pixel 4a hub should give you a good feel for what we can expect once it does arrive. Wait, will it arrive?
What is the Pixel 4a and Google’s “a” line of phones?
First kicking off with 2019’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, Google decided it needed to not only play in the top-tier flagship phone space, it also wanted to offer a more affordable phone that still gave you the best of Google. The Pixel 3a provided a similar high-end camera experience to Google’s best phones and would receive the same level of software support, only it would cost about half the price. We reviewed the Pixel 3a and loved what it had to offer with a starting price of $399.
Since the Pixel 3a was thought to be an early success story in Google’s struggling Pixel business, a follow-up dubbed Pixel 4a only made sense. At the end of 2019, rumors about a Pixel 4a began surfacing, with most in the industry targeting Google I/O 2020 for its arrival.
Throughout 2020, we have learned a lot about the Pixel 4a, should Google decide to one day sell us one.
Is there a Pixel 4a and a Pixel 4a XL or not?
We believe there may be only a single Pixel 4a phone this year, which means the Pixel 4a XL has been cut. There is evidence to suggest that Google was working on both a Pixel 4a and 4a XL, but as this story has evolved, only a single, smaller device keeps surfacing.
The Pixel 4a has been spotted a number of times now and is expected to be available in Just Black and Barely Blue. We know at least a couple of the model numbers are GA02101-FR (Barely Blue) and GA02099-FR (Just Black), that the phone stopped through the FCC by itself as G025J, G025N, and G025M, and that retailers were recently suggesting 128GB as the base storage.
We also believe the Pixel 4a carries the codename “sunfish” internally at Google. The name has popped up in code and in the Google Camera app alongside other codenames “redfin” and “bramble.” Those last two devices both run the Snapdragon 765, a 5G chip that could very well power the Pixel 5. On the other hand, “sunfish” is a single device running the Snapdragon 730, the same chip confirmed to be in the Pixel 4a.
- UPDATE JULY 10: A new semi-leak has introduced the idea that there may be both a Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a (5G). The Pixel 4a (5G) might run the Snapdragon 765G, have 5G, and launch alongside the Pixel 5. There’s a chance that the Pixel 4a (5G) will be a bigger phone along the lines of a Pixel 4a XL.
Again, we know all of that about the regular Pixel 4a, but nothing has presented itself in the way of a Pixel 4a XL on this level. Even when the phone was fully reviewed in prototype form, we saw no 4a XL, only the regular 4a.
Of course, since nothing is official yet and we are simply tracking leaks and early bits of info, this could change and Google could surprise us with a Pixel 4a XL. If they do, it should look like the device above, which has been confirmed through eBay listings of parts for the phone’s backside. We’ll talk specs in a second, but as you can see here, the Pixel 4a XL would have given us a dual camera instead of just the single shooter on the 4a. The added display size might have been nice to have too.
Google Pixel 4a Specs
The specs for the Pixel 4a won’t blow your mind, but that’s exactly the point of this phone line. This phone should pack enough to give you quick performance, take great still photos, and last all-day without breaking the bank. A Snapdragon 730 processor with 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, and Google’s still-impressive 12MP camera (samples) should provide just that.
Unlike last year’s Pixel 3a, we aren’t expecting the Active Edge or squeezy sides to return, but there should still be a fingerprint reader on the rear and other improvements. The front design has certainly been upgraded with less bezel and a hole punch camera.
For a price of around $350 or $400, these are a solid set of specs that Google will continue to utilize through feature add-ons in things like Pixel Feature Drops.
|Display||5.8" FHD AMOLED
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
Adreno 618 GPU
18W fast charging
|Camera||Rear: 12MP (OIS, EIS)
|Other||3.5mm headphone jack
|Colors||Just Black, Barely Blue|
|Size||144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
Speaking of price, we really are under the impression that the Pixel 4a could drop in as low as $349. I know that the mock billboard above says “starting at $399,” but that was a leak from early March. Since that leak, rumors and a Google Survey have both suggested a starting price point of $349 and with a base storage of 128GB. As that is the current bit of info, I tend to lean towards that being the number we should focus on if Google ever sells this phone.
When will they sell the Pixel 4a? We have absolutely no idea. The Pixel 3a launched last year in May during Google I/O. We sort of assumed that Google would release the Pixel 4a around the same time at this year’s Google I/O, but a global pandemic has potentially changed Google’s thinking about the release of the 4a.
- UPDATE JULY 13: We still don’t have a release date, but Google did post an official Pixel 4a image to the Google Store that shows a date of “May 12,” essentially confirming that this phone should have launched during Google I/O.
- UPDATE JULY 30: August 3 should be the day. Googled opened up a tease page that says to expect the next Google Phone on that day.
Google has discontinued the Pixel 3a (as of July 1) , bringing an end to its retail life. Once retailers sell through remaining inventory, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL won’t come back. I guess now might be a good time for Google to replace it.
We have seen the Pixel 4a in retail packaging, spotted Googlers using the phone, watched as Verizon suggested it should already be available and receiving updates, and yet rumored dates of a Pixel 4a release have come and gone. Your guess for when the Pixel 4a should launch is as good as anyone’s who doesn’t work on the Pixel team at Google.
Look, this phone first surfaced in CAD renders in December of 2019 and we still can’t buy it. Maybe Google will release it with the Pixel 5. Maybe they won’t ever. It’s all a guessing game.
Updated July 13 with Google’s official image of the Pixel 4a.