Google's newest mid-range Pixel, the Pixel 5a, packs an impressive spec sheet and camera setup, and it replaces the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 4a 5G. The upgrades that Google has made to the phone make it a compelling upgrade from the mid-range Pixels of last year. In the US, the Pixel 5a could very well be the go-to mid-range Android smartphone.
Read on to see exactly how the Pixel 5a is different from the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G.
Same Design, Bigger Dimensions
- Pixel 4a: 144 x 69.4.x 8.2mm, Stereo speakers, Capacitive fingerprint scanner
- Pixel 4a 5G: 153.9 x 74 x 8.2mm, Stereo speakers, Capacitive fingerprint scanner
- Pixel 5a: 154.9 x 73.7 x 7.6mm, Stereo speakers, Capacitive fingerprint scanner, IP67 certified
The Pixel 5a is notably bigger than the Pixel 4a, which is understandable since it packs a larger display. It is also taller than the Pixel 4a 5G since it packs a slightly bigger display than it as well.
Like all previous Pixel phones, the Pixel 5a features a capacitive fingerprint scanner at the rear instead of an in-display scanner.
The Pixel 5a is the first budget Pixel phone to feature IP67 certification, meaning it is dust and water-resistant. Google claims the Pixel 5a can withstand being submerged in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Another key upgrade on the Pixel 5a is that it features a metal unibody design, though it is coated in "bio-resin" plastic as seen on the Pixel 5.
Bigger Display, Same Refresh Rate
- Pixel 4a: 5.81-inch FHD+ OLED display, HDR support
- Pixel 4a 5G: 6.2-inch FHD+ OLED display, HDR support
- Pixel 5a: 6.34-inch FHD+ OLED display, HDR support
Compared to the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 5a features a bigger 6.34-inch OLED display—a bump of over half an inch. The Pixel 5a's display is also slightly bigger than the Pixel 4a 5G, which packs a 6.2-inch OLED panel.
Disappointingly, the size is the only display upgrade on the Pixel 5a. It continues to feature a 60Hz refresh rate despite 90/120Hz display panels becoming commonplace in mid-range Android smartphones. On the flip side, you do get support for Always-on Display.
Processor and 5G Support
- Pixel 4a: Snapdragon 730G, Adreno 618, 6GB RAM, 128GB UFS 2.1 storage, 4G chip, 3.5mm jack
- Pixel 4a 5G: Snapdragon 765G, Adreno 620, 6GB RAM, 128GB UFS 2.1 storage, 5G chip, 3.5mm jack
- Pixel 5a: Snapdragon 765G, Adreno 620, 6GB RAM, 128GB UFS 2.1 storage, 5G chip, 3.5mm jack
The Pixel 5a packs the same internals as the Pixel 4a 5G from last year. This means you get a reasonably powerful Snapdragon 765G chip, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage. This is a significant step up in horsepower from the Pixel 4a, which features a Snapdragon 730G chipset. Sadly, Google is not offering a higher 256GB storage option for the Pixel 5a.
The Snapdragon 765G chip inside the Pixel 5a also supports 5G so that you can enjoy blistering fast mobile data speeds. The original Pixel 4a, in comparison, only supports 4G networks.
Interestingly, Google has retained the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Pixel 5a despite removing it from its flagship Pixel lineup a few years ago.
- Pixel 4a: Rear – 12.2MP f/1.7, 1.4um, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, Pixel Shift; Front – 8MP f/2.0
- Pixel 4a 5G: Rear – 12.2MP f/1.7, 1.4um, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, Pixel Shift, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide; Front – 8MP f/2.0
- Pixel 5a: Rear – 12.2MP f/1.7, 1.4um, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, Pixel Shift, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide; Front – 8MP f/2.0
The Pixel 5a features the exact same camera setup as the Pixel 4a 5G. This means it has a primary 12.2MP shooter along with a 16MP ultra-wide. For comparison, the regular Pixel 4a only has a single 12.2MP camera at the rear. You also get all the typical Pixel camera features like Night Sight, Live HDR+, Portrait Light, and Cinematic Pan on the Pixel 5a.
The front camera on the Pixel 5a remains the same as its other Pixel siblings: an 8MP snapper.
Bigger Battery for All-Day Battery Life
- Pixel 4a: 3140mAh, 18W wired fast charging
- Pixel 4a 5G: 3885mAh, 18W wired fast charging
- Pixel 5a: 4680mAh, 18W wired fast charging
The biggest upgrade in the 5a is the battery capacity: it's the biggest battery ever in a Pixel phone. Google claims the massive 4680mAh battery on the Pixel 5a will be enough to ensure it lasts two days on a single charge with Extreme Power Saver mode enabled.
Even with this mode off, the Pixel 5a should easily get through a day of heavy use on 5G.
What's disappointing here is that the Pixel 5a continues to feature 18W wired fast charging. Charging such a big battery at 18W speeds will take its own sweet time, and Google should have added support for faster charging speeds. Like the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G, the Pixel 5a misses out on wireless charging.
An 18W fast charger is bundled with the Pixel 5a. However, this will be the last Pixel from Google to include the charger in the box. Going forward, all future Pixel phones will launch without a charger.
Price and Availability
- Pixel 4a: $349.99
- Pixel 4a 5G: $499.99
- Pixel 5a: $449.99
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Pixel 5a is its limited availability. It will only be available in the US and Japan, which severely limits its reach. Google has not met with much success with its Pixel lineup of smartphones, but mid-range Pixel phones have done fairly well. So, the limited availability of the Pixel 5a will definitely have an impact on its sales figure.
The Pixel 5a is $100 more expensive than the Pixel 4a from last year. However, it is essentially an improved version of the Pixel 4a 5G, and comes in $50 cheaper than that. So, you are getting more smartphone for your money here.
The New Mid-Range Choice
The Pixel 5a looks the same as the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G. However, it offers many of the right improvements: the bigger display, longer battery life, and IP67 certification have now become must-haves for consumers. Plus, you are guaranteed to get three OS updates and three years of security updates on the day of release itself.
The Pixel 5a will only be available in the US and Japan, which is a bummer. But in these two markets, it is easily a solid mid-range offering that's worth your hard-earned money.