Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4 – what do the leaks say?

Google's pixel models always meet with several leaks before their official releases - it is a ritual now. Just like last year's sequel of Pixel 3 to Pixel 3a, rumors suggest that Google will release a successor to its Pixel 4 anytime this month.

Google Pixel 4a

The Google Pixel 4a is probably almost here. Leaks suggest that it will go on sale on May 22nd; which suggests that Google might announce a week earlier, on May 15th. Back in 2019, Google released the Pixel 3a and 3a XL – two affordable counterparts to their flagship Pixel 3 phones. Despite their plastic build, they proved highly successful on the market, mainly for their lower price and housing the same exceptional camera found on the 3 and 3XL.

Now in 2020, the tech giant will probably follow the same pattern and release the Pixel 4a and (maybe) 4a XL. But how is the Google Pixel 4a going to be different from the Pixel 4 and 4XL? Thanks to various leaks and rumors we have a good idea.

Some features of the flagship phone are likely to be missing, which in most but potentially not all cases will be to the Pixel 4a’s detriment. Here is what we can expect from Google’s next budget phone:

Android 10 or Android 11?

Google usually unveils its latest mobile OS in May, during its annual developer’s conference known as Google I/O. Due to COVID-19 concerns, however, the in-person event was cancelled this year. Instead, the company will take the wraps off the beta version of Android 11 via an online event on June 3. Google could use the same event to announce the Pixel 4A like it did last year for the Pixel 3A and Google I/O 2019.

Optimistically, the Pixel 4A could run the finalized version of Android 11 right out of the box. However, the timeline may be too short. What may happen instead is that the Pixel 4A runs Android 10 by the time it gets into the user’s hand, but will be updated to Android 11 later on. This would make sense since last year, the Pixel 3A ran Android 9, which was publicly released in 2018, despite the third beta version of Android 10 being announced the same day as the Pixel 3A at I/O.

A high-end chipset

The Google Pixel 4 uses the high-end Snapdragon 855 chipset, but it’s very unlikely that Google will pack this into the Pixel 4a, given that this is reserved for flagships (though it’s no longer quite the latest and greatest Android chipset).

Rather, the Google Pixel 4a is rumored to use the Snapdragon 730 chipset – though there’s an outside chance that it could use the Snapdragon 765G. These are both upper mid-range chipsets, with the latter being better, and also supporting 5G. In either case, performance should be solid, especially as the Pixel 4a is rumored to come with 6GB of RAM (which is the same as the Pixel 4), but it’s unlikely to be a match for the Pixel 4 overall.

 A dual-lens camera

Most leaks suggest that the Pixel 4a will have the same 12.2MP main snapper as the Google Pixel 4. Many expect the Pixel 4’s square camera module to carry on to the Pixel 4a, along with the 12.2MP standard lens, the 16MP telephoto lens, the hyperspectral sensor for collecting additional data, the dedicated mic, and the flash module. No wide-angle lens here, but Super Res Zoom will likely make up for it. Night Sight will also be present, and hopefully, the astrophotography mode will be on deck as well.

Read more: Google Pixel 4: The iPhone in Android OS

However, there’s no confirmation that it will have the 16MP secondary lens that the Pixel 4 uses for telephoto shots. That’s a shame, especially as this was a useful addition on the Pixel 4; however, it seems like a sensible cost-cutting measure.

Wireless charging

Google Pixel 4 offers wireless charging but, so far no rumours point to wireless charging in the Google Pixel 4a; and at least one leak specifically says it won’t offer wireless charging.

That’s a slight shame since even the Google Pixel 3 had wireless charging. But, to be fair, the Pixel 3a didn’t, so it’s not totally surprising. And you will potentially get a bigger battery in the Pixel 4a, with rumors pointing to 3,080mAh, compared to 2,800mAh in the Pixel 4.

The glass Pixel 3 and the plastic-made Pixel 3a are mostly indistinguishable and feel quite similar to the touch. However, leaks and rumors suggest that the Pixel 4a will have its own personality and differ from the regular Pixel 4 in a couple of important aspects.

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Design & display

The glass Pixel 3 and the plastic-made Pixel 3a are mostly indistinguishable and feel quite similar to the touch. However, leaks and rumours suggest that the Pixel 4a will have its own personality and differ from the regular Pixel 4 in a couple of important aspects.

For one, the Pixel 4a will debut the punch-hole design. Google phones have previously relied on a more traditional look and only once dabbled into the notched design. This means that the sophisticated motion-sensing capabilities unlocked by the Soli chip on the Pixel 4/4 XL will not be present on the Pixel 4a/4a XL. Yet, this would ensure for a much more modern design, one that does not require a large bezel at the top.

Another big difference – the Pixel 4a is likely to get a headphone jack whereas the Pixel 4 doesn’t have one. What goes around, comes around, just like with the Pixel 3 and 3a last year.

Display size might remain similar to the Pixel 3a and 3a XL; 5.6 inches for the smaller and 6.0 inches for the larger device. The new pixel 4a might house an OLED display but without the coveted 90Hz refresh rate. After all, it’s one of the signature features of the premium Pixel 4-series.

Hardware

Currently, one can only speculate on what chipset will power the Google Pixel 4a. It will probably end up with a chipset of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 700-series; in fact, most likely the Snapdragon 730/730G or the Snapdragon 760/765G. In terms of storage, rumors speculate at least 64 GB of storage in the base version of the phone. Though it would be great if Google puts 128 GB of native storage inside the phone. Battery size is unknown at this point.

Interestingly, leaked info suggests that there could be three different Pixel 4a versions: a Pixel 4a, a Pixel 4a XL, and a Pixel 4a XL 5G. The Snapdragon 765/765G come with integrated 5G modems, which makes these likely candidates to power the Pixel 4a XL 5G.

An XL model

The Pixel 4 landed alongside a larger Pixel 4 XL. But, despite the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a following that same pattern, the Pixel 4a might not follow suit. While some early rumors pointed to multiple Google Pixel 4a models, it’s now looking like there will only be one, as we’ve only seen leaked specs and details for one, and as one leak has specifically suggested there won’t be a Pixel 4a XL.

Read more: Apple to launch low priced Corona-special iPhone

A big bezel

Okay, so a big bezel isn’t really a ‘feature’. However, it is one way in which the Google Pixel 4a could actually be better than the Pixel 4. While that latter phone has a large bezel above the screen, numerous leaks have suggested the Pixel 4a will simply have a punch-hole camera instead.

This should give it a more modern, all-screen look – though, its bottom bezel might be larger than the Pixel 4’s.

Price and availability

Just like the Pixel 3a, the Google Pixel 4a will definitely cost much less than the Pixel 4 and 4XL. This will be a result of using more affordable build materials as well as a mid-range chipset. And let’s not forget the omission of the relatively expensive Soli chip and sensors at the front.

A price tag of about $449 is what we are likely headed to; as the Pixel 3a cost $399 at launch. Meanwhile, the Pixel 4 starts at $799, so the Pixel 4a could prove to be a much better deal.


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