Last week we were introduced to Samsung's latest foldable phones, and the week before, Google gave us a tease of its upcoming Pixel 6 and 6 Pro flagships. As amazing as those devices will no doubt be, they just don't do it for me. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm suffering from flagship fatigue.
It's not just the ever-rising prices that have turned me off the top-tier smartphones. It's also all the extra features that I just don't need. 120Hz displays? Beautiful, but give me a 60Hz display for a day, and I'll quickly forget about them. Foldable form factor? Novel, but I still can't think of a use-case compelling enough for me to buy one. mmWave 5G? Yeah, I'll hold my breath until that's useful, or even available, to me.
As I grow older, I've been learning which tech features and products are most important to me and which ones aren't. Google's latest affordable smartphone seems to have everything I'm looking for in a modern smartphone and nothing I'm not. So it's really no mystery why I want the Pixel 5a over any of the other best Android phones on the market.
No more tears
This is the first a-series Pixel to have an official water-resistance certification, and that's a bigger deal to me than almost any other upgrade on the device. As much as I love my Pixel 4a, I was very reluctant to take it with me on my frequent walks and hikes (and less-frequent runs) because a) Central Texas is susceptible to surprise thunderstorms (like these that flooded the Capitol building this past weekend), and b) I sweat like a pig when I exercise. I couldn't bear the thought of my daily driver drowning this way, so I'm glad to know that I'll not have to baby the Pixel 5a when I want to head out on an outdoor adventure.
I've got the power
The Pixel 5a has the best battery ever on a Pixel, and it's really not even close. Last year's Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G had batteries with 4,080mAh and 3,855mAh, respectively. Solid, especially when paired with the Snapdragon 765G chipset (which also powers the 5a), but not nearly as impressive as the whopping 4,680mAh cell on the Pixel 5a.
It's one thing to say you have a large battery, but it's another thing to have that battery live up to and even surpass your expectations. For example, when my colleague Ara Wagoner was testing out her Pixel 5a, she tried just about everything she could think of to kill the battery, and she practically couldn't. After putting it through the rigors of all-day Disney World expeditions and Samsung Unpacked coverage, the 5a persisted. Up to and over two days in most cases. That's the kind of reliability I want in a smartphone. The fact that this phone can last so long and charge quickly via 18W wired charging adds so much value that I don't even think I'd miss wireless charging.
Now hear this
Guess what returns in the Pixel 5a? A 3.5mm headphone jack! I know that most of us have moved on to true wireless earbuds, but there are still times when a wired audio experience is needed. Case in point — last month, I traveled for the first time in nearly two years, and my wireless earbuds started to die. I really didn't relish the thought of spending $150, $100, or even $50 on a new pair at the airport, but I had no problem shelling out $20 for a wired pair for my Pixel 4a. I like having that flexibility and appreciate that it is here on the 5a once again.
More to see
The Pixel 5a has the same camera setup as the 5 and 4a 5G, which is great, but it's a major upgrade from what I have on my 4a. Now I'll have two rear cameras, one of which is an ultrawide lens with a 117-degree field-of-view. Since I tend to purchase phones in the mid-range or affordable category, wide-angle lenses are novel to me, and I'm excited to see what kinds of images I'll be able to capture with the shooter on the 5a. Google's photo processing prowess is legendary, and I was already pleased with what the 4a could accomplish with meager specs. So be prepared to see more taco photos from me on Twitter in the near future!
I know what you're going to say, and you're right. The Pixel 5a is kind of boring to look at, as were the 4a and 4a 5G. But honestly, who cares? This phone is a workhorse, and workhorses aren't bred for their looks. Besides, most folks — myself included — are just going to put a case on it anyway. And actually, the initial crop of Pixel 5a cases are pretty darn stylish. I'm eyeing that Likely Lime Google-made case or the Sage Caseology Parallax myself. Even without the case, I can see the beauty in the 5a's basic design. It's simple but efficient, and it doesn't stand out. The introvert in me can relate.
A for affordability
The Pixel 3a and 4a set the bar low for a-series pricing, but in a good way. Both phones retailed for $349 and were a steal for what they offered at that price point. The Pixel 4a 5G broke that pattern a little, but some of that has to do with the more expensive 5G chip and the rumors that it might have originally been intended as a Pixel 5 variant. So even though the 5a is $100 more than the 3a and 4a before it, I think that's a fair price for what you're getting. It still compares extremely favorably to other phones in the $400 to $500 range (or cheaper), and it comes in at $50 less than the 4a 5G.
For value-conscious phone shoppers, there really isn't a better option than the Pixel 5a. While certainly not a budget device, it's undeniably one of the best affordable Android phones available today.
Do you agree or disagree with my take? Are you going to pick up the newest affordable Pixel?
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