Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. iPhone 12 mini: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 4a 5G
Google Pixel 4a 5G (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel 4a 5G

The Pixel 4a 5G has an odd existence between the regular Pixel 4a and Pixel 5, but there's no denying how much value it brings to the table. Its Snapdragon 765G is a very capable chipset, battery life is great, and you get the same excellent Pixel camera experience you've come to expect. At just $499, it's a fantastic value.

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Such a good deal

Excellent performance for the price
Consistently great cameras
Reliable battery life
Has a 3.5mm headphone jack
Much more affordable
No water resistance
Doesn't have wireless charging

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 mini in blue

If you want the newest iPhone while spending as little as possible, this year's "affordable" model is the iPhone 12 mini. It's considerably more expensive than the Pixel, but you're getting a bit more for those extra dollars. The iPhone 12 mini has a wonderfully compact design, incredible performance, wireless charging, and more.

iPhone 12 mini

Tiny powerhouse

It's so small!
A14 Bionic chip is insanely powerful
Very capable cameras
IP68 dust/water resistance
Qi and MagSafe charging
Still uses proprietary Lightning charging
Higher price

The Google Pixel 4a 5G and iPhone 12 mini are two of the best values in their respective ecosystems. If you love Android, the 4a 5G is a steal. You're getting an incredibly capable processor. amazing cameras, great battery life, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. At just $499, it's hard to ignore. Should you prefer iOS as your go-to mobile operating system, however, there's a lot to love about the iPhone 12 mini. It's the most affordable entry in the new iPhone 12 series, and even so, retains a lot of the same features — including the A14 Bionic processor, a new OLED display, and promising cameras.

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. iPhone 12 mini Price and availability

iPhone 12 Mini

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

As of right now, there's something both the Pixel 4a 5G and iPhone 12 mini have in common: neither one is available to purchase. While both phones have been unveiled, we still have some time to go before you can go out and buy one.

In regards to the Pixel 4a 5G, it's available as of November 19 for $499. There's just one variant of the phone that'll be available, featuring 128GB of storage in its Just Black color. The iPhone 12 Mini went on sale November 13 for $699, and you can get it in White, Black, Blue, Green, and (PRODUCT) RED at the following prices:

  • 64GB — $699
  • 128GB — $749
  • 256GB — $849

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. iPhone 12 mini The Pixel is the better overall value

Apple's never been a company that's known to deliver unmatched value, and in this comparison, that's perfectly evident. The iPhone 12 mini may be the cheapest new iPhone you can get, but compared side-by-side with the Pixel 4a 5G, there's no denying that Google gives you more bang-for-your-buck.

Despite there being a $200 price difference between the phones ($250 if you compare the Pixel 4a 5G against the 128GB iPhone 12 mini), the Pixel still manages to deliver an excellent user experience. Starting with the display, it has a 6.2-inch OLED panel with a 2340x1080 Full HD+ resolution. The display technology and resolution are the same, and the larger screen size means more room for watching movies and playing games.

Powering the Pixel 4a 5G is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, which has proven to be an excellent chipset. It strikes a balance of offering fast performance, 5G connectivity, and great battery efficency without being too expensive for companies to use. This all results in the Pixel 4a 5G being incredibly responsive and easily making it through a full day of heavy use with room to spare. Other specs, like 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, are just icing on the cake.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Google Pixel 4a 5GiPhone 12 mini
Operating SystemAndroid 11iOS 14
Display6.2-inch OLED2340 x 10805.4-inch OLED2340 x 1080
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 765GApple A14 Bionic
Storage128GB64, 128, or 256GB
Rear Camera 112.2MP primaryf/1.7OIS12MP primaryf/1.6OIS
Rear Camera 216MP ultra-widef/2.2107-degree FoV12MP ultra-widef/2.4120-degree FoV
Front Camera8MPf/2.012MPf/2.2
Battery3,885 mAhUp to 15 hours of video playback
Charging18W wired charging20W wired charging7.5W Qi wireless charging15W MagSafe wireless charging
SecurityRear fingerprint sensorFace ID
Water ResistanceIP68
Dimensions74 x 153.9 x 8.2mm64.2 x 131.5 x 7.4mm

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Then, of course, there's the camera experience. The Pixel 4a 5G has the same 12.2MP primary sensor that we got on the Pixel 4 from 2019, which is to say that it's darn good. This is one of the most consistent and reliable camera offerings on any smartphone, with the Pixel 4a 5G delivering top-notch shots whether you're in broad daylight, in a dimly-lit room, or trying your hand at astrophotography. Google's also introduced some new software features to improve video recording, though it's still not quite as strong as what the iPhone delivers.

The Pixel 4a 5G ships with Android 11 right out of the box, and because this is a Pixel, you're first-in-line for new software updates and monthly security patches as soon as they become available. These guaranteed updates are good for three years, and while that's not on the same level of support that you get with an iPhone, it's the best the Android space has to offer.

When you consider that you're getting all of this for just $499, it becomes clear as to why the Pixel 4a 5G is such a darn good value.

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. iPhone 12 mini Why the iPhone is still a great pick

iPhone 12 Mini

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

With the Pixel 4a 5G bringing so much to the table, how does the iPhone 12 mini stack up to it? While you are paying an extra $200 for the privilege of owning a new iPhone, the 12 mini does have a few key advantages.

It all starts with the processor: Apple's A14 Bionic chipset just blows the Snapdragon 765G out of the water. A lot of users will probably be hard-pressed to notice a distinct speed difference between the two, but if you're a power-user and want to ensure you're getting the most capable smartphone possible, the iPhone 12 mini has you covered.

Apple's new dual-camera system should also be quite comparable to the Pixel 4a 5G, offering 12MP primary and 12MP ultra-wide sensors. You're getting 27% better light sensitivity for the primary camera compared to the iPhone 11, and if video is a big priority for you, the iPhone 12 is the first smartphone camera to support Dolby Vision recording.

There are also a bunch of quality-of-life aspects to the iPhone 12 mini that help make it feel like a more well-rounded device. It has a new Ceramic Shield glass that touts 4x better drop performance, IP68 dust/water resistance, and supports Qi wireless charging. The 12 mini also introduces Apple's new MagSafe technology, which allows for a new charging method and magnetic accessories that you can mix-and-match with one another.

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. iPhone 12 mini It all comes down to ecosystems

We could spend the entire day nitpicking all of the small differences between the Pixel 4a 5G and the iPhone 12 mini, but at the end of the day, your final decision ultimately comes down to which operating system you prefer.

If you love your iPhones and can't envision yourself ever switching to Android, go ahead and get the iPhone 12 mini. It might be more expensive, but it's a top-notch phone in just about every regard and has everything you'd expect from iOS. Comparatively, if you can't stand the way iPhones work, the Pixel 4a 5G is an easy recommendation. It packs a ton of specs and features at a low price, all while running the software you prefer.

No matter which phone you go with, you're getting a darn good one either way.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.