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Is the Google Pixel 4a XL on its way after all?

The camera design of the Pixel 4a XL looks surprisingly like that of the Pixel 4 series, pictured. (Image source: Google)
The camera design of the Pixel 4a XL looks surprisingly like that of the Pixel 4 series, pictured. (Image source: Google)
A listing imaginatively titled "Google Pixel 4a XL Replacement New Battery Back Cover Door" has appeared on eBay France, sparking rumours about Google releasing a second mid-range Pixel this year. While Google has apparently cancelled the Pixel 4a XL, there has been no official confirmation from Google as such.

It seems that someone has got their hands on spare parts for the Pixel 4a XL, the supposedly cancelled big sibling to the Pixel 4a. Before we get into what the listing reveals about the XL, we thought it would be worthwhile to unpack the consensus that Google has cancelled the device.

Back in January, YouTuber Dave Lee claimed that Google would not be releasing an XL model of the Pixel 4a because the Pixel 3a XL hurt Pixel 3 XL sales. Rubbished by 9to5Google because of his non-existent track record of smartphone leaks and that he did not disclose his sources, the website informed readers that "our own sources have already implied there will be a Pixel 4a XL". Emphasis added by 9to5Google there, not us. Equally, XDA Developers possibly spotted the Pixel 4a XL in the AOSP repository.

Fast forward three months and 9to5Google, along with every other outlet, are claiming the XL model has been cancelled. Citing unnamed sources, one of the reasons that 9to5Google called Dave Lee's report "sketchy", we are now supposed to believe that Google will not be launching a Pixel 4a XL. While 9to5Google could have relied on outdated information when it rubbished Dave Lee in January, the u-turn seems odd considering how adamant 9to5Google was.

Nonetheless, it seems that Google at least prototyped the Pixel 4a XL in September 2019, according to the markings on the inside of the back cover. Posted by a seller with a 97.5% positive feedback rating and one that has been trading since 2011, the Pixel 4a XL looks unsurprisingly like what we have seen of the Pixel 4a. The rear cover has apertures for a headphone jack, a capacitive fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C and contact pads for what looks like NFC. The camera housing has got people scratching their heads, though.

In our opinion, the housing looks like the one from the Pixel 4 series but turned upside down. From the inside of the back cover, it appears that the LED flash is at the top, with two camera sensors sitting above a flicker sensor on the bottom. We cannot make out a microphone hole, though.

We would not rule out anything for the time being, what with the cancellation of I/O 2020 apparently putting the release of the Pixel 4a on hiatus. Personally, the argument that Lee offered for cancelling the Pixel 4a XL does not stand up to scrutiny. Google released the Pixel 3a series six months after the Pixel 3 series, during which time the 3 XL should have amassed most of its sales. Equally, if Google had planned to launch the Pixel 4a series in May, that would have been seven months since it released the Pixel 4 series. So, do not rule out a Pixel 4a XL just yet.

The Pixel 4a XL. (Image source: eBay via @techdroider)
The Pixel 4a XL. (Image source: eBay via @techdroider)
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Alex Alderson, 2020-04-10 (Update: 2020-04-10)