Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

Google launches $349 Pixel 4a

Google's Pixel 4a
Google

Google on Monday launched its long-expected Pixel 4a, a $349 device that brings key features of the company's flagship smartphone to a more affordable price point.

Why it matters: Google saw surprisingly strong demand for last year's "a" model, and having a broader range of products allows the company to reach more parts of the market.

Compared to the Pixel 4, the lower-cost model includes:

  • No second camera lens. The Pixel 4a has similar photography features as the Pixel 4, just without its additional zoom lens.
  • A slower processor. The Pixel 4a uses a mid-range Qualcomm chip as compared to the high-end version in the Pixel 4, but it offers a significant boost above the 3a's processor.
  • A bigger battery. One of the biggest knocks on the Pixel 4 was its poor battery life, a criticism that Google clearly took to heart, with the 4a having a larger battery than the Pixel 4 (which also had a faster processor and other features drawing more heavily on the battery).
  • A headphone jack. Unlike the higher-end Pixel 4, the 4a has a 3.5-millimeter jack that accepts standard headphones.

Between the lines: Google was originally expected to launch the phone at its spring I/O developer conference, which was canceled due to the pandemic.

  • Google acknowledged the release came later than it had hoped, adding COVID-related travel shutdowns were a significant disruption.
  • "This has been an adventure to get this phone out," said Google VP of product management Brian Rakowski.

What's next: Google also tipped its hand about two other models coming later this year: a 5G version of the Pixel 4a starting at $499 as well as the Pixel 5. Google says it didn't want customers to be surprised or to hold off while wondering what's next.

Meanwhile: Samsung is expected to debut the Galaxy Note 20 and other devices at an "Unpacked" event on Wednesday.

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