Google reveals washable phone case, plus the new midrange Pixel 4a that goes inside it

Also teases 5G handsets, but says they won't reach India or Singapore

Google has revealed its new mid-range smartphone - the Pixel 4a – and an on-sale date of sometime in October.

Priced at £349/US$349 and £499/US$499 for a forthcoming 5G version, the new phone packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G SoC, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Google swears the 3140Mah battery will last all day. The display is a 5.8-inch OLED at 1080 x 2340 and 443 pixels-per-inch.

A 12.2MP rear camera can also shoot 1080p video and the 8MP forward-facing selfie-shooter can make movies at 120 frames-per-second.

A USB-C slot has a 3.5mm audio jack as a companion and the device ships with a wall wart, USB-C cable and earbuds.

Google reckons the best new bits are live captioning of videos and video calls, voice dictation into docs and the Google Assistant to let you control apps or send texts without lifting a finger. Lots of new features promise to make your photos and videos look like you know what you’re doing.

Google’s promised a 5G version of the phone and an 5G-equipped Pixel 5 later this year, but hasn’t said when either will debut.

Google Pixel 4a

The Pixel 4a comes in one color called 'Just black'.
Click to enlarge. Image source: Google.

Intriguingly, Google India has revealed that the ad giant’s 5G phones “will not be available in India or Singapore, based on a variety of factors including local market trends and product features.”

The Register wonders if Google’s tie-up with Indian carrier Jio might also be a factor.

India’s also down the list of nations where the 4a will land. The phone is on pre-order now in the USA, with August 20th selected for its debut. UK Pixel-fanciers must wait until September to order and until October to get their hands on the device. Indian buyers have the same delays to endure. The Register understands that COVID-related supply chain hiccups are behind the staggered rollout.

Google’s also announced a washable case for the phone and says 70 percent of the material is recycled plastic.

The company has even published washing instructions, as follows:

  1. Remove the case from your phone.
  2. Put your case in the washing machine. Then, add the appropriate amount of non-bleach laundry detergent for the load size. You can wash your case with other clothes or fabrics.
  3. Do not add any bleach to the load.
  4. To treat a stain, run it under cold water. Then, use stain remover, a stain remover pen, or isopropyl alcohol with a cotton swab on the stain. Avoid harsh cleaners, rough scrubbing, or soaking for a long time.
  5. Set the washing machine to a delicate cycle and use cold water.
  6. Do not put your case in the dryer.
  7. Let the case dry flat at room temperature.


Bootnote: Yes, Google’s instructions really do say “Remove the case from your phone” even though that seems to be going about things the wrong way.

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