Google announces newest phone in the Pixel lineup, the Pixel 4a

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Among all the new phone releases, it can be hard to stick out from the pack. It can be easy to forget that in this growing smartphone market, one of the world’s biggest brands will drop a bunch of new phones this year. While the hype for Google’s Pixel phones is somewhat quiet compared to Apple and Samsung, Google does still pull a loyal following of supporters who love what the Pixel series has to offer.

Now Google has announced its new lineup of Pixel phones for 2020. While you won’t be able to buy them quite yet, pre-orders are open and the release isn’t too far away. Let’s dive in to what you can expect from the soon-to-be released Pixel 4a, and the other devices (including 5G capability) which will be released later this year.

Google Pixel 4a features and specs

The new Pixel 4a builds on the success of the Pixel 3a, offering “everything you love about Google” phones, but in a affordable package at that cheap smartphone price point. What really sets Google’s phones apart from the competition is the integration of much of Google’s software and features. While you can get Google’s apps and services on other devices, with a Pixel, you’ll find many of these features much more seamlessly integrated into the phone.

You’ll be able to pick up the Pixel 4a for $599 from the Google Store, JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman or on a phone plan with Vodafone. Pre-orders are open, but the Pixel 4a won’t be available in these stores (and Officeworks) until 10 September, 2020, while availability in other stores will be from mid-October. Pre-orders from Vodafone are yet to go live.

Front and back of the Google Pixel 4a in black
Source: Google

Design

Eliminating the tough decision of which colour to choose, the Pixel 4a comes in ‘Just Black’ only with a matte finish and that mint-coloured power button for a little pop of colour. It features a 5.8-inch OLED display and a punch-hole front-facing camera. There’s a choice of fun custom wallpapers which integrate the in-screen camera into the design.

Google has also announced a range of cases which are now available to pre-order. You might think that a phone case release isn’t the most exciting news, but these cases are made from over 70% recycled plastic, as part of Google’s commitment to sustainability. The cases are a knitted fabric finish, which comes in three colours — Basically Black, Static Gray and Blue — and cleaning any stains or dirt is as easy as throwing it in the washing machine, with or without your regular laundry load. The cases are $59 and available for pre-order.

Cameras

While most smartphones these days come with three or even four integrated rear cameras, the Pixel 4a keeps it simple with a 12.2MP dual-pixel camera with auto-focus, electronic image stabilisation and fused video stabilisation, HDR+ with dual-exposure controls, portrait mode, ‘Top Shot’ technology and Astrophotography for those great nighttime photos of starry skies. As for the front-facing camera, you’ll get a 8MP with fixed-focus.

If you’re serious about phone photography, you might find these cameras to be a little lacklustre, considering the cameras you can get on similarly priced phones from other manufacturers. But let’s face it, Google phones are more about the functionality and integrated tech than the cameras alone.

Battery and processor

The Pixel 4a includes a 3,140 mAh battery with fast charging, and an Adaptive Battery feature which reduces power to the apps you rarely use, to help minimise the need for multiple daily charges.

As for its processor, you’ll get Qualcomm Snapdragon 730, Titan M security included, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage and eSIM capability. The Pixel 4a includes the latest Android 10, and minimum of three years of OS and security updates.

Other features

While the Pixel 4a is lacking in some of the flash features such as multi-rear cameras and big batteries, where the Pixel 4a really shines is it’s added features and integration with many of Google’s assets, which are an important part of many people’s professional and personal lives.

The new Google assistant, which was introduced last year, is there to help you with multitasking, whether you want to send a text or find a photo. Plus, it’s available in English, Italian, German, French and Spanish, with more languages to be added later.

There are a few more handy features, such as Recorder (which connects with Google Docs), where you can save and share transcriptions and recordings in English, and the Live Caption feature, which provides real-time video and audio captioning in English. It will also automatically caption your voice and video calls. Plus, it has Hearing Aid compatibility with a M3/T4 HAC rating.

Another interesting feature is the Personal Safety app, which provides real-time emergency notifications and car crash detection when it’s switched on. If this clever feature determines you’ve been in a severe car crash, it will ring and vibrate loudly and ask whether you need assistance, both on-screen and aloud. You can then respond in a number of ways to either cancel or get the assistance you need, and if you don’t respond, it will act accordingly as if you’re unconscious.

It’s these kinds of new technologies and integrated features that make the Pixel 4a a great device for people who multitask, with Google using its strength in AI and technology advancements to create a clever device which is more than just a phone.

Google Pixel 5G phones
Source: Google

What about 5G Google Pixel phones?

In addition to the Pixel 4a, Google announced that the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 (also with 5G) will be released later in the year.

Prices for these devices start at $799, and both devices will come with 5G connectivity. The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 will be available later in 2020, with no set date. More news on these devices will be released in the coming months.

While there are very few details on these 5G-capable phones, if you’re a big fan of Google’s Pixel phones and have been hanging out to try 5G for yourself, you might prefer to wait a few months to upgrade. Considering the Pixel 4a won’t be available until 10 September, the wait for 5G phones might be shorter than expected.

Google Pixel 4a Specs — summary

To recap, here are the features and specs you’ll get with the Google Pixel 4a:

  • Priced at $599AUD
  • Available from 10 September, 2020
  • 5.8-inch OLED display (144mm/5.7 inch height x 69.4mm/2.7 inch width)
  • 6GB Ram + 128GB internal storage
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
  • 3140 mAh battery with fast charging
  • 12.2MP dual-pixel rear camera with auto-focus
  • 8MP front camera with hole-punch design
  • Custom wallpapers integrating the hole-punch camera into the design
  • Google Assistant, Recorder, Live Caption and other features to help with multitasking
  • Available in Just Black colour

Phone plans from Vodafone

If you’d prefer to pick up your Pixel 4a on a plan from Vodafone, you’ll need to choose whether you want to pay off your device over 12, 24 or 36 months, and then pair with a month-to-month postpaid plan. The following table includes Vodafone’s SIM-only postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of plans includes links to referral partners.

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