5 things we've got left to learn about Google Pixel 4a

We first expected the Google Pixel 4a to come out in mid-May during Google IO, but when that show got cancelled, we started waiting for a sign – any official sign – that the mid-range phone would launch soon. We’re still waiting.

But we’ve also heard enough rumors to get an idea of what’s coming in the Pixel 4a. We suspected it would follow its predecessor, the Pixel 3a, as a far cheaper version of the most recent flagship. From what we can tell, the phone will have the best parts of the Google Pixel 4, from cameras to live transcription.

But there’s still a ton we don’t know, either because the rumor mill hasn’t surfaced anything about certain perks or that we’re simply waiting for Google to confirm things we can’t guess at anyway – like, say, a release date.

Here’s the top five things that we still don’t know about the Pixel 4a.

1. Google Pixel 4a price and release date

Yes, these are the big ones – not just because we want to get our hands on the Pixel 4a already (we do!), but because the price could decide the phone’s impact on the market. While its predecessor stood out among mid-range phones with its incredible cameras and streamlined Android capabilities, this year has far fiercer competition with the iPhone SE 2020 and other top-notch cheap phones like the Moto G8 Power.

Given the Pixel 3a was half the price at launch compared to the Pixel 3, we hope the same is true here, and the Pixel 4a follows its predecessor with a pricetag starting at $399 / £399 / AU$649 – or, heck, even cheaper.

2. Will there be a Pixel 4a XL?

While we expected the Pixel 4a to follow the series' precedent in coming out with both a standard and larger XL version, we’ve heard rumors that we won’t see the latter. This could mean that Google expected the bigger model to sell poorly, and didn’t feel it was worth it. 

That makes sense, but it also leads us to wonder whether the Pixel 4a will repeat the weaknesses of the Pixel 4 – in particular, its poor battery life, which barely lasted a day in our casual testing. The Pixel 4 XL, on the other hand, mitigated this issue with a larger-capacity battery, and it lasted noticeably longer. If there is no Pixel 4a XL, hopefully it won’t follow suit.

Google Pixel 3

3. Will it have more than one rear camera?

Google has done wonders with only a single rear camera on the back of its phones for years, but the company finally added a telephoto lens in the Pixel 4. Will we get extra lenses in the Pixel 4a?

The telephoto lens expanded the Pixel 4’s photographic capabilities, sure, but it mostly enabled analog depth effects (rather than digital tricks). We’d like to see what more lenses could do for the 4a, especially if Google mimics Apple and Samsung in bringing an ultrawide camera to its more affordable handsets (the iPhone 11 and Galaxy S10, respectively). 

What we’ve seen isn’t promising: purported Pixel 4a phone boxes got leaked that seem to show a single-camera design (bafflingly, while keeping the Pixel 4’s camera block). But even cheaper budget phones are getting more cameras, like the Moto G8 Power with its trio of rear shooters, so we’d love to see the Pixel 4a empowered with a bigger camera array.

4. Will it keep the best mid-range perks, like a headphone jack?

With no clue as to the phone’s physical design, we don’t know if the Pixel 4a will keep the best features of its predecessor, like the 3.5mm headphone jack and fingerprint sensor – both of which are gone and sorely missed in the Pixel 4. 

Not that everything’s bad in Google’s latest flagship – in fact, we’re quite taken with the Pixel 4’s design, especially in an age when most smartphones are either black rectangles or shimmering color gradients. Give us a phone that looks like it was cut out of a Mondrian and we’ll be happy campers.

5. Will the Pixel 4a be 5G compatible?

This may not be the most exciting feature right now, but we haven’t seen a lot of 5G-compatible mid-range phones, so Google could set Pixel 4a owners up for the future – and stand out from the competition – by enabling its next phone to hook up to the next-gen networks.

A code leak back in January suggested that supposed code numbers for three phones included at least one that’s 5G-compatible (via a Snapdragon 765 chipset). That could be a version of either the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL that has 5G, or it could be referring to the Pixel 5. We haven’t heard much else about which Google phones will connect to 5G networks. 

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