Google Pixel 4a: seven features that you probably won't get from the Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 4 has a lot of features that the Pixel 4a probably won't have. (Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel 4a is probably almost here, with leaks suggesting it will go on sale on May 22 – meaning it might be announced a week earlier on May 15.

Thanks to various leaks and rumors we have a good idea of what to expect from the Google Pixel 4a, as well as what not to expect, as this is more (or less) than just a cheaper take on the Pixel 4.

That means some features of that phone are likely to be missing, which in most but potentially not all cases will be to the Pixel 4a’s detriment. So for an idea of what you’ll probably be missing out on if you pick up Google’s next budget phone, read on.

1. A high-end chipset

The Google Pixel 4 uses the high-end Snapdragon 855 chipset, but it's very unlikely that Google will pack this into the Pixel 4a, given that this is reserved for flagships (though it’s no longer quite the latest and greatest Android chipset).

Rather, the Google Pixel 4a is rumored to use the Snapdragon 730 chipset – though there’s an outside chance that it could use the Snapdragon 765G. These are both upper mid-range chipsets, with the latter being better, and also supporting 5G.

In either case, performance should be solid, especially as the Pixel 4a is rumored to come with 6GB of RAM (which is the same as the Pixel 4), but it’s unlikely to be a match for the Pixel 4 overall.

2. A dual-lens camera

The Pixel 4 has a second lens that the Pixel 4a probably won't get

The Pixel 4 has a second lens that the Pixel 4a probably won't get (Image credit: Future)

Most leaks suggest that the Pixel 4a will have the same 12.2MP main snapper as the Google Pixel 4, but there’s no suggestion that it will have the 16MP secondary lens that the Pixel 4 uses for telephoto shots.

That’s a shame, especially as we found this a useful addition on the Pixel 4, but it’s an obvious cost-cutting measure, and a way to differentiate the two phones.

3. Wireless charging

The Google Pixel 4 offers wireless charging, but so far no rumors point to wireless charging in the Google Pixel 4a, and at least one leak specifically says it won’t offer wireless charging.

That’s a slight shame since even the Google Pixel 3 had wireless charging, but the Pixel 3a didn’t, so it’s not totally surprising. And you will potentially get a bigger battery in the Pixel 4a, with rumors pointing to 3,080mAh, compared to 2,800mAh in the Pixel 4.

4. A 90Hz screen

Google Pixel 4

The Pixel 4 has a high refresh rate, while the 4a likely won't (Image credit: Future)

So far we haven’t heard any whispers of a 90Hz screen on the Google Pixel 4a, and we don’t expect that to change, with a 60Hz screen being far more likely.

60Hz was until recently the refresh rate that almost all smartphones used, and even now higher refresh rates are mostly reserved for flagships and gaming phones, so would be an unlikely inclusion on the Pixel 4a.

Having a 60Hz screen will mean that interactions aren’t likely to feel quite as smooth, particularly when scrolling or playing games, but if you haven’t experienced a 90Hz (or higher) refresh rate then you won’t miss it.

5. A Soli chip

One feature we’re really not expecting in the Google Pixel 4a is a Soli chip, as this is basically the definition of a premium feature.

Baked into the Pixel 4, this powers Motion Sense, a feature that lets you use gesture controls without touching the screen – you can just swipe above it instead. It can also be used to detect when you’re near the device and have the screen automatically turn on.

However, this isn’t a feature you’ll find in even other high-end handsets (other than the Google Pixel 4 XL), so we’d be very surprised if it made its way to the Pixel 4a, especially as it’s rumored not to be included.

6. An XL model

There's the Pixel 4 XL for fans of big phones, but don't expect an XL on a budget

There's the Pixel 4 XL for fans of big phones, but don't expect an XL on a budget (Image credit: Future)

The Pixel 4 landed alongside a larger Pixel 4 XL, but despite the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a following that same pattern, we’re not expecting the Pixel 4a to, as while some early rumors pointed to multiple Pixel 4a models, it’s now looking like there will only be one, as we’ve only seen leaked specs and details for one, and as one leak has specifically suggested there won’t be a Pixel 4a XL.

So if you want a big-screen budget Pixel you’ll probably have to look to the older Google Pixel 3 XL or Google Pixel 3a XL.

7. A big bezel

Okay, so a big bezel isn’t really a ‘feature’, but this is one way in which the Google Pixel 4a could actually be better than the Pixel 4, as while that latter phone has a large bezel above the screen, numerous leaks have suggested the Pixel 4a will simply have a punch-hole camera instead.

This should give it a more modern, all-screen look - though its bottom bezel might be larger than the Pixel 4’s.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.