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

Oct 20, 2020 - Technology

Here's what the U.S. antitrust case charges Google with

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Justice Department's new antitrust lawsuit against Google centers on the charge that Google has built a self-reinforcing machine to illegally insulate it from any serious competition in search.

Why it matters: DOJ spent more than a year investigating Google to assemble what prosecutors believe is the cleanest case for convincing a court that the company is deliberately hamstringing would-be competition. Both sides now face the likelihood of a bruising, years-long battle that could expand to touch on other aspects of Google's business.

Oct 20, 2020 - Technology

Google calls antitrust case "deeply flawed"

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee last July. Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Google says the Justice Department's lawsuit alleging competitive abuses is "deeply flawed" and would fail to help consumers.

Driving the news: The Justice Department and 11 states Tuesday filed an antitrust case against Google, accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize the online search and search advertising markets.

U.S. vs. Google — the siege begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Justice Department fired the starter pistol on what's likely to be a years-long legal siege of Big Tech by the U.S. government when it filed a major antitrust suit Tuesday against Google.

The big picture: Once a generation, it seems, federal regulators decide to take on a dominant tech company. Two decades ago, Microsoft was the target; two decades before that, IBM.

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