After months of leaks and speculation, Google has finally revealed the Pixel 4a. This phone was originally slated to make its debut this spring at Google I/O, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of that event. The 4a might be launching late, but it’s still shaping up to be an excellent phone at just $349. If that’s not your speed, Google also has a pair of 5G-enabled phones on the way.
The Pixel 4a is Google’s followup to last year’s widely praised Pixel 3a. Despite being a budget phone, the Pixel 4a looks much more modern than the 3a did. For one, it has almost no bezel surrounding the 5.8-inch OLED screen. There’s also a small hole-punch in the display for the front-facing camera. It’s still a plastic phone like the Pixel 3a was, but the body has a soft-touch texture that makes it extra grippy. However, it also shows fingerprints extremely well.
Inside, the Pixel 4a has a Snapdragon 730G ARM chip, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. It’s a nice step up from the 3a, making the 4a a surprisingly competitive phone even for people who care about specs. There’s a single camera on the back, but Google’s incredible photo processing produces some of the best results you can get on a smartphone regardless of price.
As with all Pixel phones, Google promises at least three years of security and system updates. That means the Pixel 4a, which ships with Android 10, will get Android 11, 12, and 13. That’s certainly not bad for a $349 phone. You can pre-order the Pixel 4a today, and it’ll ship in a few weeks. The $349 price point implies that the Pixel 4a may be intended to undercut Apple’s iPhone SE, which starts at $399.
Or, you can wait a bit longer and buy one of Google’s first 5G phones. Google took the unusual step of pre-announcing the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. We don’t know anything else about these phones officially, but they should round out Google’s modified 2020 lineup. There will only be one size of the Pixel 5, and it’ll be smaller than the Pixel 4a 5G. The Pixel 5 will most likely have a Snapdragon 765 chip instead of the flagship 865, but that should mean a much lower price and better battery life.
Google’s decision to steal the 4a’s thunder is a bit strange, but admittedly, carriers only care about marketing 5G phones right now. The Pixel 4a is only available from Google (unlocked) and Verizon. AT&T and T-Mobile don’t appear interested in selling it, even though both carriers sold 2019 Pixel phones.
In previous years, Google launched Pixel phones in October, and it does promise the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G in “the coming months.” The pandemic could end up forcing delays in that timeline, though.
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