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In the Android enthusiast bubble, the Pixel 4a is one of the most hotly anticipated devices of 2020. The previous Pixel 3a won our phone of the year award, and both hopes and concerns are high when it comes to the follow-up. At this point, we know almost everything about the phone, from specs and benchmarks to the bump in base storage and a potentially reduced price — plus rumors of a 5G version. And based on Google's recent teaser, we may not have long to wait before an announcement.
What will it look like?
An official Google render was accidentally placed on the Google Store a few weeks ago. It gives us a decent look, and confirms previous leaks.
Between CAD-based renders, in-person photos, and videos, we now have a very good idea of what to expect from the Pixel 4a, physically.
Some folks in Cuba even managed to get their hands on one for an early "review," showing off the phone from almost every angle and giving us a glimpse of the (presumably pre-production) software experience and camera, too:
The Pixel 4a looks something like a lovechild between the current Pixel 3a and Google's recent Pixel 4, featuring what looks like an all-plastic curved unibody and a Pixel 4-style square camera bump — which still looks like it only houses a single camera.
Bezels are just about gone as the phone picks up a nearly edge-to-edge screen, sporting one of those newfangled "hole-punch" or "pinhole" designs, with a front-facing camera embedded right beneath the display in the top left corner. Rick Osterloh was even spotted tweeting from a 4a, as in a screenshot he shared, the digital cutout for the pinhole camera was clearly visible.
A rear-mounted fingerprint sensor lies around back, which, together with the front bezels, indicates there's no secure infrared camera-based face unlock (as with the Pixel 4).
We've seen leaks showing the phone in the usual white and black colorways, and we expect the wildcard may be a light blue hue of some kind (according to YouTuber Dave Lee).
Measurements for the Pixel 4a clock in at 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm (9mm at the camera bump), which is just a bit smaller than the Pixel 3a. Dimensions regarding a bigger XL variant haven't leaked, and we're pretty sure at this point that there won't be one (more on that later).
One phone or two?
One — but also two. A larger 5G variant that was previously rumored to be a Pixel 5 variant has been connected to a Pixel 4a 5G name, though it doesn't seem like it will be landing at the same time as the "normal" Pixel 4a — maybe later this year.
At one point, 9to5Google had its own sources which claimed a larger 4a XL was still in the works, but if it existed, it was scrapped or turned into the 4a 5G. 9to5Google also located this image of what is very likely the rear for a 4a XL that showed up on eBay.
Later leaks included full renders of the larger Pixel 4a XL:
Unfortunately for those that wanted a bigger phone, we're pretty confident there will be only one size for the Pixel 4a — no "XL."
What are the specs?
The hardware that will be included in the Pixel 4a is pretty well-known at this point. Between the details connected to the "sunfish" codename and the info garnered by the Cuban device leak, we can paint a nearly complete picture by the numbers.
More recently, 9to5Google got its own separate confirmation of the specs corroborating all the earlier leaks — which didn't add much new information outside the possibility of a larger 128GB storage size.
|Display||~5.81" OLED 1080x2340, 60Hz, hole-punch camera|
|Storage||128GB UFS 2.1 (a 64GB model looks increasingly unlikely)|
|Camera||12.2MP primary, 8MP front-facing|
|Dimensions||144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm (9mm at the camera bump) for the 4a, 4a XL unknown|
|Battery||3,080mAh, 18W fast charging (probably USB PD)|
|Misc||Headphone jack, Type-C charging, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Google Titan M security chip, no wireless charging, no Active Edge.|
|Colors||At least two named colors: Just Black and Barely Blue. A white model may also be coming.|
Among the more curious changes is the fact that Google is dropping the Active Edge feature, which let you squeeze the phone to trigger the Assistant. First introduced with the Pixel 2 series, present on last year's Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and seemingly inherited from HTC, the feature put a pair of strain gauges on the sides of the phone, and it sounds like it's gone on the Pixel 4a.
FCC filing details have also been made public, illuminating things like LTE band support — no big surprises there.
Although it was previously speculated that "redfin" might be a different variant of the Pixel 4a, signs now point to it being the upcoming Pixel 5. However, the "bramble" codename — once also thought to be a Pixel 5 variant — has been more recently tied to the "Pixel 4a 5G" name, so we may see a souped-up version of the Pixel 4a with a Snapdragon 765. We've also got new information about just how fast the phone is, with a series of benchmarks leaking detailing the phone's performance.
What features will it lose versus the Pixel 4?
We expect that the Pixel 4a will not have a submersion-rated IP score (the Pixel 4 is IP68), wireless charging, secure face unlock, or a dedicated telephoto camera — not to mention a difference in internal specifications for things like the chipset and display refresh rate.
As mentioned in the last section, it also won't have the Active Edge feature, which lets you squeeze the phone to trigger the Google Assistant.
Will it have 5G?
No — at least, not this version of the phone. The "sunfish" hardware name, which has been conclusively tied to the Pixel 4a, will specifically not support 5G given the chipset it uses. However, there will be a Pixel 4a 5G that will be announced later this year, allegedly, different from the phone expected to be announced August 3rd.
How much will it cost?
Originally, we expected it would cost $400. Now, it looks like it could be $350.
Initial leaks indicated a $400 starting price, and the previous Pixel 3a also started at $400. More recent rumors suggest we might have a 128GB storage configuration with a $350 starting price point, which would be a significant reduction, and make the 4a a much stronger contender on overall value, and a better competitor against the 2020 iPhone SE.
When will it come out?
August 3rd. Google has all but said so in an official teaser.
Bonus: Leaked wallpapers
As something of a little extra, all of the Pixel 4a's new wallpaper designs leaked recently, and they're pretty tremendous. Google's going full embrace-the-pinhole with them, and it results in some downright clever and weirdly cute designs, a departure from the more serious and abstract style Pixel phones have embraced to date.