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Here’s why Google’s Pixel 4a will be dead on arrival

Published Apr 13th, 2020 6:05PM EDT
Pixel 4a vs. iPhone SE
Image: YouTube

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  • Google is expected to launch a budget Pixel 4a in the coming weeks, a phone that will feature mid-range specs and will cost $399.
  • Apple’s upcoming iPhone SE is also rumored to retail for $399, but the new iPhone will pack iPhone 11 specs inside the body of an iPhone 8.
  • Apple’s new handset will offer much better performance and build quality than Google’s budget phone, making the choice between them a no-brainer.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Google will soon launch a new Pixel phone with a much better design and price tag than the Pixel 4. But no matter how great the Pixel 4a  looks compared to the pricier Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, the $399 phone will make a few huge compromises, just like its predecessor. Plus, this time around, Google has an iPhone to compete with.

Apple is widely expected to unveil the sequel to the iPhone SE this week. The phone has been featured in a slew of reports recently, including leaks from Apple’s own website. Jon Prosser, a YouTuber who has risen to prominence due to his well-sourced leaks, claimed a few days ago that the iPhone SE would launch on April 14th or 15th. Apple might use the former date to antagonize OnePlus, which will launch the OnePlus 8 on the same day.

When Google launched the Pixel 3a last year, it pitted the phone against the iPhone in ad campaigns, making it sound as if the Pixel 3a was a better choice than an iPhone. We explained at the time that you should really only consider a Pixel 3a if you owned an iPhone older than the iPhone 6. Still, the campaign had some merit, as it offered buyers a brand new phone for just $399. Apple’s iPhone 8 was still on store shelves at the time. The iPhone 8 may have been perceived as old, even though it offered better performance than the Pixel 3a.

The Pixel 4a won’t have this luxury. The 2020 iPhone SE won’t only be as new as the Pixel 4a, but it will also be leagues ahead of it when it comes to performance. The iPhone will have a few huge advantages over the Pixel 4a, with the iPhone 11 processor being the biggest one. The handset will deliver the same formidable performance as the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, and those devices obliterate the Pixel 4 in speed tests.

The iPhone SE will also have a better build quality than that of the Pixel 4a. The affordable Pixel will be made of plastic, while the iPhone SE is expected to rock a glass-sandwich design just like the iPhone 8. The iPhone SE should also feature support for wireless charging, just like the iPhone 8 series and every iPhone since 2017. Wireless charging reportedly won’t be an option for the Pixel 4a.

The iPhone SE will have a single-lens camera on the back that will deliver the same performance as the iPhone XR, according to Prosser. The Pixel 4a comes with a single rear camera as well. No matter what Google does to beef up the Pixel 4a’s camera features, it’s still the iPhone SE that will be the better choice.

The iPhone SE is rumored to start at $399, just like the Pixel 4a. If you’re looking for a budget phone, the only reason to buy the Pixel 4a is loyalty to the Android ecosystem. Otherwise, you have no reason to waste your hard-earned money on a phone that will be obsolete a lot faster than Apple’s. The iPhone SE’s A13 chip guarantees the handset will see several years of software updates, so you’ll be able to use it for quite some time before needing a replacement. Even if it is more expensive — say $449 — the iPhone SE would still be a much better deal than the Pixel 4a.

Finally, there’s the release date to consider. Google’s phone was supposed to arrive at the now-canceled I/O 2020 event. While we don’t have a launch date for the handset, it seems highly unlikely that Google will ship the Pixel 4a before the iPhone SE releases. The Pixel 4a retail box has already leaked, suggesting Google is prepping the phone’s launch. But even so, the Pixel 4a will be dead on arrival because of the new iPhone SE.

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.