Remember the good old days when Google’s Nexus and Pixel handsets were still somewhat affordable? These days, Google’s Pixel phones are almost on par in terms of pricing as other flagship handsets, but in 2019, Google tried to address this by launching the Pixel 3a, a cheaper and less powerful variant of the Pixel 3.
The company is expected to follow that up with the Pixel 4a lineup this year, and here’s why we think it probably won’t matter and why the handsets could be pretty much dead on arrival.
According to the rumors, the Pixel 4a will most likely be using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset. Given that the chipset has since been replaced by the Snapdragon 765, we have to wonder why Google has chosen not to use it, especially since it offers up increased performance in both processing power and GPU.
The integrated modem also seems to be slower compared to the Snapdragon 765. If this was a phone meant for 2019, it might have made sense, but in 2020 and with how quickly technology is being upgraded, it already feels like we’re buying a phone with hardware that’s at least a year old.
Lack of 5G
As we mentioned above, the Pixel 4a is rumored to be packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset. In this day and age where 5G phones are becoming more commonplace, it is disappointing that the Pixel 4a might not support 5G. With its rumored price point, we reckon Google would have a killer phone on their hands if there had been 5G included, especially with the majority of 5G smartphones out there being high-end flagship devices.
5G naysayers will point out that the technology still isn’t a “must-have” but with more and more people holding onto their phones for 2+ years, the average person buying a Pixel 4a will not experience 5G until sometime in 2022.
The Pixel 4a is rumored to be packing a 3,080mAh battery which feels tiny in comparison to other smartphones out there. Its predecessor, the Pixel 3a, had a 3,000mAh battery, so the jump of 80mAh is negligible. Heck, we’ve seen $200 phones from 2019 that came with bigger batteries, so if battery life isn’t going to be one of the phone’s selling points, what is?
Once again, Google seems to be sticking with its decision to launch a “lite” version of the Pixel 4 more than half a year after the launch of the flagship Pixel 4, and only a few months away from the Pixel 5. This creates several issues because not only has the lapsed time allowed other phones from 2019 with better hardware to drop drastically in price, like the Pixel 4, and why would people buy the Pixel 4a when the much better Pixel 5 is just around the corner?
Originally, the Pixel 4a was scheduled to make its debut at Google I/O 2020 in May. The launch was then positioned until June and now it seems the device won’t be making an appearance until sometime in July.
Based on the steep Pixel 4 discounts we’ve already seen, you should be able to purchase Google’s 2019 flagship smartphone for less than $500.
Lack of features
To help keep costs down, the Pixel 4a will most likely not come with the same features as the flagship Pixels. Most notably, Motion Sense, which made its debut on last year’s Pixel 4, will certainly not be making an appearance, meaning you’ll likely no be seeing any face unlocking features either. The Active Edge feature which allows you to squeeze the phone to pull up the Google Assistant should be making a comeback.
The phone will also be using the older (and cheaper) rear-mounted fingerprint sensor setup rather than an in-display reader that’s become a lot more popular these days.
While its potential lower price, a decent camera and double the storage of the Pixel 3a could be its selling point, we have to say that that’s pretty much all the Pixel 4a has going for it. But even at those prices, the lapse in time means that phones with better hardware from 2019 may be better options at their newly reduced prices.
Unless you absolutely have to have the vanilla Android experience, we reckon that there are better phones out there that could be had for the same price, or if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you could get a device that would probably offer up a much better experience and features.