Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: What changes should you expect?

Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: What changes should you expect?
Image source: Made by Google / YouTube video (screenshot)

Last year’s affordable Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL models were highly successful. They had a plastic body and a not-so-powerful processor. But they had the same camera as the more expensive Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Google is expected to launch a mid-range variant of Pixel 4 and 4 XL in the first half of this year. The budget-friendly Pixel 4a series is already in the works, and we have seen a number of Pixel 4a leaks in the last few weeks. Based on leaks and rumors, let’s check out in this Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4 comparison how the upcoming mid-range device would differ.

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When is the Pixel 4a coming?

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL debuted in October 2019. Google is expected to unveil the Pixel 4a series at its annual I/O developer conference. Last year’s budget phone Pixel 3a was also unveiled at the I/O conference.

The search engine giant has announced dates for the I/O 2020 event. The annual conference is scheduled to take place at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California between May 12 and May 14. The company could also show off Android 11 at the same event.

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Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: Models and specs

Recently, folks at XDA Developers spotted references to the Pixel 4a phones in a new update to the Google Camera software. The Camera version 7.3 code suggests there will be not two but three different models of Pixel 4a. They are code-named: Sunfish, redfin, and bramble. The references to new phones were also spotted by 9to5Mac.

The code mentions “photo_pixel_2020_midrange_config,” which is widely expected to be the Pixel 4a series. The code also includes “photo_pixel_2020_config” without the “midrange” modifier, indicating that it could be the Pixel 5, which would arrive towards the end of this year.

According to XDA Developers, the sunfish (Pixel 4a) will use Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 730 chipset. The redfin (Pixel 4a XL) and bramble models would run the Snapdragon 765, which supports 5G.

It’s unclear how bramble would differ from redfin. It’s possible that one of them is being used as a development board. But we can expect at least one Pixel 4a model to offer 5G connectivity. The Pixel 4 runs a much more powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, but lacks 5G support.

The Pixel 4a series is expected to offer at least 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The Pixel 4 features 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage. Google gives users unlimited cloud storage for photos in high quality.

The battery size is not known at this point. The Pixel 4 packs a decent 2800mAh battery with 18W fast charging and wireless charging. The Pixel 4a is unlikely to support wireless charging.

The last year’s Pixel 4 has Google’s proprietary Titan M security chip to keep your data secure. Google claims your facial recognition data is stored on the Titan M security chip. The Pixel 4a series is rumored to have a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of facial recognition, which means you should not expect the Titan M security chip on the mid-range model.

The Pixel 4a is also expected to ditch the Soli radar chip that enables gesture navigation in Pixel 4. It allows you to control music playback, stop an alarm, take an incoming call, adjust volume, and perform other actions by waving your hand in the air.

Design and display

The front and rear glass panels of Google Pixel 4 are protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. It has stereo speakers to deliver crisp and clear audio. The device also gets Google’s Active Edge feature, which allows users to summon Google Assistant by squeezing the frame of the device.

The Pixel 4 has a thick bezel at the top of the screen to accommodate the ear speaker, selfie camera, and the facial recognition sensors. On the back panel, it features a square camera module to house two lenses. There is no fingerprint sensor on the back because Google uses 3D face unlocking.

According to the rumor mill, the search engine giant will bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack with Pixel 4a. Google had ditched the traditional audio jack with the Pixel 4. Recently, reputed Twitter tipster Steve H.McFly shared renders of the Pixel 4a.

As per the render, the Pixel 4a would have a small punch-hole in the top-left of the screen to house the camera. There will be no notch to make room for more screen real estate. On the back is a circular fingerprint reader and a squared camera module. The fingerprint reader would replace facial recognition on the budget model. However, the rear camera module features only a single lens.

The render shows a flat screen. The regular Pixel 4a is rumored to feature a 5.7-inch screen while the Pixel 4a XL would get a bigger 6.4-inch display. The budget phones won’t get the Pixel 4’s 90Hz refresh rate. They would have an OLED display with 60Hz refresh rate.

While the Pixel 4 series has a glass back, Google would use a plastic body on the Pixel 4a to cut costs, just like it did with Pixel 3a.

Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: Camera

One of the biggest reasons the Pixel 3a was so successful was because it offered the same camera as Pixel 3 at a much lower price. Leaked renders suggest the Pixel 4a would have only a single camera lens on the back. The renders are no concrete evidence that it would get only one lens, though.

In contrast, the Pixel 4 has a dual camera setup consisting of a 12.2MP wide-angle lens with OIS and f/1.7 aperture; and a 16MP telephoto lens with OIS and f/2.4 aperture. It is capable of recording 4K videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at up to 120fps. For selfies, the Pixel 4 gets a single 8MP wide-angle lens on the front

We expect the Pixel 4a camera to support the Night Sight mode, Astrophotography mode, and Super Res Zoom. It could also get the Pixel 4’s Live HDR+ feature that shows you what the HDR+ image will look like in real time. These features have taken the Pixel photography to a whole new level.

Pricing and availability

The Google Pixel 4 starts at $799 for the base model with 64GB storage. If you want the 128GB model, you’ll have to shell out $899. The Pixel 4a is expected to start at $399 or $449. Last year’s Pixel 3a had a starting price of $399. If Google unveils the new phone at the I/O conference on May 12, we can expect it to go on sale later that month in the United States.

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