Pixel 4a: Release date, specs and what we’d like to see from Google’s next affordable phone

2019 has been chock-full of high-end phone launches, but one of our favourite handsets of the year is actually a mid-ranger. The Google Pixel 3a really stands out, largely because it offers the Pixel 3’s exceptional camera at a far more affordable price point. 

In all honesty, we haven’t seen a huge amount about the Pixel 4a leak yet − but read on for what we’re expecting (and would like) from the phone.

Pixel 4a release date

Ahead of Google’s mid-October launch event, where the Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL broke cover, it had been claimed that the Pixel 4a might launch at the same time.

We were sceptical at the time and, of course, it failed to make an appearance at the event.

Most smartphone makers work to a 12-month refresh cycle. And since the Pixel 3a and 3a XL only came out in May, we’re expecting the company to refresh the range in May 2020.

Related: Forget the Pixel 4, it’s the cheaper Pixel 4a I’m really excited about

Google Pixel 3a front straight handheld

Pixel 4a price

The Pixel 3a launched with an RRP of £399, with the Pixel 3a XL costing £469 − roughly half as much as the Pixel 3 (£739) and Pixel 3 XL (£869).

Though it’s unlikely that the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL will cost any less than their predecessors, we also don’t think Google would risk hiking up prices too much. That’s because the Pixel 3a range was a runaway success for Google, and the more expensive Pixel 3 line wasn’t.

In its Q2 2019 earnings call on July 25, three months after the launch of the Pixel 3a range, Google revealed that the 3a and 3a XL had already more than doubled sales of its handsets year-on-year. “With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel unit sales in Q2 grew more than 2x year over year,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the time.

Contrast this with Google’s admission during its Q1 2019 earnings calls. “Hardware results reflect lower year-on-year sales of Pixel, reflecting in part heavy promotional activity industry-wide given some of the recent pressures in the premium smartphone market,” Google CFO Ruth Porat had said on April 29.

Pixel 4a camera

Okay, it’s speculation time. If Google adopts a similar approach to the one it took with the 3a, we can expect the 4a’s headline feature to be its camera.

However, here’s where things get tricky. The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are the first ever Pixel phones to feature more than one rear camera sensor, and we don’t know if it’s really feasible for Google to equip the mid-range 4a with such a high-end − and likely pricey − camera setup too.

What’s more, if − as has been rumoured − the Pixel 4a does launch at the same time as the flagship Pixel 4 line, why would anyone pay several hundreds of pounds more for a Pixel 4 than a Pixel 4a if they both had the same camera setup?

It seems likelier that the Pixel 4a will feature a slightly more modest camera configuration, albeit one that’s still capable of smoking most of the competition. After all, much of what makes Google’s cameras so impressive is on the processing, rather than the actual hardware.

Google Pixel 3a camera angled macro

Pixel 4a specs and features

Obviously it isn’t realistic to ask for the world in a mid-range smartphone, but there are a few potential areas of improvement we’d like Google to address with the Pixel 4a.

First and foremost, we’d like to see more choice − or at least the addition of a microSD card slot. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL both come with 64GB of internal storage, with no option to expand that. It would be great if this changed with the 4a.

We’d also love to see the arrival of wireless charging and some form of waterproofing, for added convenience.

Beyond these things, however, it would be great to see Google stick to pretty much the same formula. More Pixel 4a leaks are bound to emerge over the coming weeks and months, and we’ll keep updating this page with the biggest news.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor