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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.

Go deeper

Why Facebook's cloud gaming won't be coming to your iPhone

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook on Monday launched its free cloud gaming platform on desktop and Google's Android mobile operating system but said it it couldn't offer the service on Apple's iOS because of Apple's "arbitrary" policies on applications that act like app stores.

The big picture: It's the latest example of the complex interrelationships among tech's biggest companies, which cooperate with one another in some areas while competing and fighting in others.

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

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