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Google canceled a next-gen Pixel phone, but photos just leaked anyway

Published May 29th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Pixel 4a Release Date
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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  • The Pixel 4a release date is still a mystery, as Google has postponed the release of its affordable next-gen handset.
  • A new leak reveals that Google has considered making a bigger version of the phone, the Pixel 4a XL, that many people expected to see in stores this spring.
  • Several reports have claimed that the Pixel 4a XL was canceled, but a new series of photos reveal the phone would have offered a better camera experience than the smaller model that’s still expected to launch.

Google should have released the Pixel 4a phone at this year’s Google I/O event that was initially scheduled for mid-May. But then, the novel coronavirus pandemic forced governments to impose stricter social distancing measures that included the cancelation of public gatherings such as a developers conference. We still expected the Pixel 4a to be unveiled online this month, even without a formal I/O 2020 press conference. But then Apple launched the brand new iPhone SE, priced at $399, which was the rumored price of the Pixel 4a. Since then, we heard that the Pixel 4a would be even cheaper than planned, starting at $349, but the launch slipped to June and then July. We’re nowhere closer to getting any official news about the Pixel 4a, but we do have one more Pixel leak, one that says Google considered making an XL version of the handset, one that could have been even better than the low-cost model.

Last year’s Pixel 3a came in two sizes, regular and XL, just like all the premium phones that preceded them. The Pixel 4a will be different, and that’s something we’ve known for months now. But the Pixel 4a XL did exist in prototype form as the following photos indicate.

Purported Pixel 4a XL rear case shows dual-lens camera module, 3.5mm headphone jack, and fingerprint sensor cutout. Image source: 9to5Google

The pics come from an eBay seller, 9to5Google explains, which listed the parts in early April. The “Replacement New Battery Back Cover Door” component is still in stock, and you can order it, although it won’t work on anything.

The component has all the marks indicative of a Google phone, including the strange Google logo the company uses to mark and track early production units. The Pixel 4a XL rear panel is likely made of plastic and comes in white. The case features a rear-facing fingerprint sensor opening, which is an indication we’re looking at a part that’s not made for the Pixel 4 XL. A hole for the 3.5mm headphone port is present on the top, another hint this is a case for the cheaper line of Pixels.

Image source: 9to5Google

The most exciting detail in these photos concerns the camera. The Pixel 4a XL would have featured a larger camera bump than the Pixel 4a, as it would have housed two rear cameras, just like the two Pixel 4 phones. In that regard, the Pixel 4a XL could have offered an even better camera experience to buyers who would have paid extra. Add better battery life and an increased display, and the Pixel 4a would have delivered a much better experience than the cheaper version.

There’s no telling why Google decided against launching the Pixel 4a XL phone, or how much it would have cost.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.