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Google finally unveils £349 Pixel 4a ‘iPhone rival’ smartphone

Google has formally unveiled its much anticipated Pixel 4a smartphone after months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The internet has been awash with rumours and leaks about the mid-market device since Google’s I/O event was cancelled in May.  

And the device has now finally been revealed and closely resembles the majority of leaks.

It sees a return for the much-loved rear-mounted fingerprint sensor as well as an excellent and simple camera system, a stalwart of Pixel handsets. 

All this comes at a price of just £349/£349, undercutting the rival iPhone SE.

Google and Apple, two true juggernauts in mobile manufacturing, have both thrown their weight behind affordable handsets that are smaller and cheaper than their flagships while still being full of some high-end tech.

Despite experiencing difficulties due to the current global situation, the Pixel 4a strikes an excellent balance between affordability, performance and aesthetics. 

It is only available in black and will be available for pre-order in UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain on September 10 and will go on sale on October 1. 

Google has also announced that there will be a 5G version of the 4a, but it will not be released alongside the regular model. 

In a vague statement in a blog post, Google said: ‘This fall, we’ll have two more devices to talk about: the Pixel 4a (5G), starting at $499, and Pixel 5, both with 5G.

‘Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 will be available in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. 

‘In the coming months, we’ll share more about these devices and our approach to 5G.’


In previous years, the company has gone public with its main Pixel around October but that too could be hit by the current global crisis. 

Pixel smartphones were first announced in 2016, succeeding the Nexus brand. 

With the 4a, Pixel has squeezed in an 8 megapixel front-facing camera as well as a 12MP rear camera.

In comparison, the SE has a 12MP rear camera and a 7MP front-facing camera. 

Both companies use a single rear lens and enhance the images with software, utilising the impressive processors in both phones – the A13 bionic chip from the iPhone 11 in the SE and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 for the 4a. 

The 4a is also able to record 4K video at 30 frames per second, keeping pace with its iOS competitor.  

Other phones at a similar price-point, such as the OnePlus Nord, have taken a different tact in order to poach a share of the market, sticking more lenses and megapixels into the device and hoping quantity results in increased quality. 

However, bigger is not necessarily better, and in this instance the OnePlus Nord is beaten out by both the Apple and Google handsets. 

The 4a also has 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage, as was expected. 

Its screen is a beautiful 5.8′ OLED display that is interrupted by a subtle hole punch for its front-facing camera, the first in the range to opt for this look.  

Pixel has also opted to not make an XL version of the 4a, deciding the 5.8-inch screen was best suited to the price. 

After all, any larger and it starts looking and feeling dangerously like one of its marquee models.  

Much like Apple did with the SE, Google has gone back to a fan favourite from previous models and revived the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for its security. 

It also comes with the traditional, and increasingly out of fashion, 3.5mm headphone jack. 

While the screen, camera and accessibility reek of dependability as Google plays it safe, a host of minor features and tweaks have been made to freshen up the phone.  

These include improved integration of the Recorder app, live caption for calls and also a Titan M chip and three years of security updates. 

It also has an outstanding battery, courtesy of its 3140ma power bank which Google says lasts up to 24 hours. 

After testing the handset, this claim is accurate and, if anything, somewhat modest. Extremely heavy usage will see the phone easily last a working day on a single charge, but very modest usage and the phone will stay awake for at least 48 hours. 

And, when the battery does eventually drain, it can be filled up again in minutes with the fast-charge system. 

However, because the phone is built with a polycarbonate case and not gladd, there is no wireless charging capacity for the 4a.  

But, the most noticeable thing about this device is its familiarity. 

It doesn’t introduce game-changing technology and boggle the mind with gimmicks. Instead, it does all the basics really, really well. 

The 4a is a superb all-rounder which is hard to knock for its price.  

And it seems the market is trending in this direction, with firms focusing on mid-market handsets as consumers increasingly resent paying £1,000 for a phone. 

With the base level of tech now so high, the average consumer will see very little difference in speed or function between a flagship device and the 4a or the SE. 

Diminishing rewards at the top end of the market mean companies are having to offer a wider range that tailors to the masses and not focus on bamboozling the top one per cent of gadget-lovers. 

Google, with the 4a, is firmly atop this bracket, building a perfect phone for a time when people will not be splashing out.  

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