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Pixel 4A could be announced very soon. Here are 5 things I hope Google includes

Commentary: I'm hoping for wireless charging, water resistance and more.

Last year's Pixel 3A XL.
Angela Lang/CNET

Update, Aug. 3: The Pixel 4A is here. Read CNET's review. Original story follows.

The Pixel 4A and 4A XL are expected soon. In May 2019, Google launched a line of budget phones as an offshoot to its flagship Pixel line. Starting first with the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, the phones were priced at hundreds of dollars less than itheir Pixel 3 and 3 XL counterparts because they lacked a few key features like water resistance and wireless charging. Despite such compromises, the Pixel 3A doubled Google's Pixel sales by that summer.

Since the Pixel 3A, rival phone-makers such as Apple and Samsung have released cheaper models of their own flagships to some success, and Google will need to step it up if it wants to remain competitive. Given that we've already passed May this year (so it's been more than a year since Google unveiled the Pixel 3A) and Google was going to hold a presser on June 3, only to then cancel it, it's hard to predict exactly when we'll see the Pixel 4A. Nevertheless, here's exactly what we want from Google's new budget phone. 

Pixel 4A should be the same price or cheaper

The main draw of Google's A line is its more affordable price. When they first launched, the Pixel 3A cost $399 (£399, AU$649) and the Pixel 3A XL cost $479 (£469, AU$799). We expect Google to keep the Pixel 4A at relatively the same price, especially since $399 appears to be a sweet spot when it comes to affordable handsets from premium phone-makers. For example, the 2020 iPhone SE and Samsung's Galaxy A51, which is the most advanced phone of its latest Galaxy A series, both cost $399.

But there are rumors floating around that the Pixel 4A may launch at an even lower price. In May, Stephen Hall of 9to5Google tweeted that the Pixel 4A could start at $349 instead. I'd never complain about paying less for something (as long as the quality is the same), and the handset would be in a better position to compete against the iPhone SE and other rivals, attracting more budget-conscious users.

Pixel 4A should have more internal storage

To want the same low price (if not lower), but also ask for more internal storage seems like a contradiction, but this is a wish list so why not? The Pixel 3A comes with 64GB of internal storage with no option to expand. Google does offer Pixel users unlimited storage for Google Photos in high quality (which is of lower resolution than original quality), but not everyone prefers using cloud backups for their photos (yours truly, for example).


The Pixel 3A.

Angela Lang/CNET

At a time when we can capture 4K video, dramatic portrait photos, sweeping wide-angle images and fun GIF-like animated pictures of our friends, 64GB just doesn't seem like enough anymore. It would be great if Google offered a 128GB option as well.

Pixel 4A: Water resistance and wireless charging

A few years ago, water resistance and wireless charging on a phone were "nice to have" and were seen, necessarily as crucial, but as a decent perk. While I still don't think they're that important, their ubiquity in so many phones now has made them an expected feature. Incorporating these additions would be one more way Google could keep the phone competitive, considering the iPhone SE, for instance, is rated IP67.

In that same vein, though it's too early now to expect it on affordable phones, I believe having an onscreen fingerprint reader is on its way to going from "nice to have" to "standard feature." In a few years I wouldn't be too surprised to see it become common in budget handsets.

Return of a wide-angle, front-facing camera

Considering how much Google emphasized the camera prowess of Pixel phones in the past, it goes without saying that I expect a top-tier rear camera setup from the Pixel 4A no matter what. But I also hope that the company throws in a curveball and brings back a second front-facing camera too. 

It's weird to hope for a Pixel 4A feature that neither the Pixel 4 flagship nor the Pixel 3A predecessors themselves have. But I'm just a big fan of the Pixel 3's front-facing camera and would like to see its return. When Google first touted it during the 2018 launch of the Pixel 3, I knew it was useful but didn't think much of it, especially since LG had it on its phones before then. 

But lately I've been finding myself wanting to pan out more often with my selfies. At first it was because I wanted to capture more of the landscape behind me, but then I also realized that my friends and I, when we visit each other outdoors, are spaced out more widely in photos because of social distancing. It is what it is.

A bolder design 

I suppose it's understandable that the Pixel 4A's design can't stray too far from that of the Pixel 4, but the look of Pixel phones has been getting a bit stale and it'd be great for Google to shake things up. Rumors are circulating that the Pixel 4A will have a hole-punch camera, which would be a modern touch. But I'd like to see a freshened-up look besides that and not just a new color. It's more likely that any big changes to Google's design language would be withheld for the next Pixel 5, but one can hope.