A few months have passed since the Google Pixel 4 phones launched, and we've started hearing rumors of the Pixel 4a devices, budget entries in the Pixel 4 range that could come out mid-way through 2020 (just as the Pixel 3 was followed by the Pixel 3a).
New renders of the budget devices have leaked, and they suggest a divisive Pixel 4 design decision has been reversed.
Well, these renders actually show a case for the Pixel 4a, but they also give a good look at the device itself. The renders are from popular tech leaking website SlashLeaks, where (as of writing) they have a 100% trust score, but they have a lot in common with previously leaked Pixel 4a renders too.
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Those previous renders were unofficial, and it's not clear where these new case images are from, so take them with a pinch of salt, but they align despite not seeming to be from the same source.
Looking at the pictures, we can see a few features brought over from the Google Pixel 4, but also a few returning features from older Google Pixel devices like the 3 and 3a.
The returning feature we refer to in the headline is a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, for easily unlocking your phone. This was a popular feature in older Pixel devices but was dropped in the Pixel 4 in favor of facial unlocking. Presumably, one of the changes Google made in the Pixel 4a to make it more affordable was to drop the advanced face unlocking tech.
The facial recognition means of unlocking (as there wasn't even an in-screen fingerprint sensor) was rather divisive, so it's no wonder Google dropped it.
We can also see a 3.5mm headphone jack in the case renders, and while the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 were both lacking this port, the Pixel 3a series had them.
So that's what's returning from pre-Pixel 4 devices, but what about the Pixel 4's influence? Well, we can see the distinctive square camera block in the renders, but the layout of the camera within it seems a little ugly, in our opinion.
There's also no large notch, as all Pixel 3 and 4 devices had (save the Pixel 3 XL), and instead we can see a 'punch-hole' cut-out in the top left corner of the screen. This is a curiously premium-looking feature for a phone that's expected to be budget, as most of the phones with cut-out segments for the front-facing camera are premium or mid-range handsets (although this is rapidly changing).
The Pixel 4a is arguably a more attractive device on the front thanks to this punch-hole, as the screen-to-body ratio is presumably much higher than if there was a notch. This partly makes up for the weird rear design.
So could the Google Pixel 4a look like this? Well, this is an early render, so we don't think it's a final design, but it still could hint towards the finished product. We'd expect to see that in mid-2020, but stay tuned to TechRadar before then for all the latest news and leaks.
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.