Global tech giant, Google has unveiled a new more affordable Pixel 4a smartphone and said it would launch models tailored for super-fast 5G networks later this year, Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5.
The non-5G Pixel 4a boasts core features popular that made its top-of-the-line predecessor popular, like a sophisticated camera system.
But its starting price of $349 is about half that of the flagship Pixel 4 model and a $50 discount from a cheap Pixel released last year, the 3a, which is being retired. It’s also a major markdown from other higher-end models in the existing product line-up that start at $799.
The new phone will be available in the United States starting August 20. The next and 5G versions of Google’s top-of-the-line Pixel phones will be released sometime this fall, Google said on Monday, without revealing their price.
While still a bit player in the smartphone hardware market, Alphabet-owned Google found success with the release last year of the Pixel 3a, which bucked the trend of sky-high prices for top-tier handsets.
“Last year, Pixel 3a gave people a chance to get the helpful features of Pixel at a more affordable price,” said Google product management vice president Brian Rakowski.
“This year, Pixel 4a and the first 5G-enabled Pixels, Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 coming this fall, will continue to bring the features people love packaged in sleek new hardware at more affordable prices.”
The coming Pixel 4a synched to 5G networks still being built will start at $499, and be available in Australia, Britain Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, and the US, according to Rakowski.
The budget-minded Pixel 4a is coming out four months after Apple released a discount iPhone, the SE, priced at $399.
Smartphone market decline amid Covid-19
The global smartphone market “plummeted” in the second quarter of this year, with Apple the only top vendor to grow, according to market tracker Canalys.
The smartphone market worldwide fell 14 percent to 285 million units in a second consecutive quarter of decline amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Canalys.
Apple shipped 45.1 million iPhones globally, a growth of 25 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, Canalys reported.
That was in stark contrast to the overall smartphone market, which registered a 16 percent decline in shipments from last year during the same three months, the steepest drop in the industry’s history, according to research firm Internal Data Corp.
The availability of a lower-priced iPhone model helped spur iPhone sales at a time of soaring unemployment, as the economy plunged into a deep recession that is causing millions of households to curb their spending so they can pay rent and buy food.
“So far, consumer purchasing power in major markets has remained relatively stable,” Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton said in a release.
“The real test will be in the coming months, as stimulus money is tapered off, and furlough schemes withdrawn.”
Huawei overtakes Samsung
China’s Huawei overtook Samsung to become the number-one smartphone seller worldwide in the second quarter on the back of strong domestic demand, Canalys said.
Canalys said the embattled firm, which is facing US sanctions and falling overseas sales, shipped 55.8 million devices — for the first time topping Samsung, which shipped 53.7 million units.
The findings marked the first quarter in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple has led the market, Canalys said.
Google so far has been selling fewer than 10 million Pixel phones a year since rolling out the product line in 2016, barely making a dent a market where more than 1 billion phones are shipped annually, according to IDC.
The Pixel phones primarily serve as a showcase for Google’s Android operating system, which includes its search engine and other services, such as digital maps, that help sell the ads that generate most of the company’s revenue.
This week, Samsung is expected to unveil new flagship smartphones, including the Galaxy Note and a foldable phone, as well as expand sales of mid-tier models, aiming to fend off competition from China’s Huawei.