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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.

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

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