Google’s annual I/O conference was supposed to happen this week. Alas, like many other gatherings, it’s been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We expected all the I/O announcements to come by Friday, but it’s looking like Google may postpone some of its most important ones. Documents from Vodafone indicate the hotly anticipated Pixel 4a launch has been pushed back from May to June.
Last year, the launch of the Pixel 3a coincided with Google I/O, and leaks this year made it look like the 4a would be the same. However, Google canceled not only the physical event but also the online I/O conference it initially promised. The next thing on the agenda is Google’s Android 11 beta launch, which will take the form of an online keynote on June 3rd. We haven’t seen any evidence of a deluge of impending Google announcements, so what of the Pixel 4a?
According to a leaked Vodafone document, the carrier expects to begin selling the Pixel 4a on June 5th. That’s much later than the May 11th date the carrier had listed previously. Of course, we can only speculate about the reason for the delay. Google’s teams are still adjusting to remote work, which is one of the reasons cited for the lack of an online I/O replacement. It could be that the final phases of development and testing for the 4a have just taken longer than expected.
However, there’s also an iPhone-shaped elephant in the room. Apple launched the 2020 iPhone SE recently, and it starts at $400 just like the Pixel 4a (probably) will. Apple’s new phone sports much of the same hardware from the more expensive iPhone 11 family, thanks to its carefully controlled supply chain. Google’s mid-range Pixel will have predictably mid-range components, and that could mean it won’t compare very favorably to the iPhone SE.
The delay might help Google make some last-minute adjustments to the marketing or pricing, but it will, at the very least, give Google some distance from the iPhone announcement. The Pixel 4a is an important phone for Google’s hardware division. The company’s flagship phones haven’t sold very well lately — we know the Pixel 3a gave the company a much-needed boost last year after disappointing Pixel 3 sales. The Pixel 4a could do the same in 2020.
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