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

Google released two variants of the Pixel 4a: a regular model that originally went on sale for $350 and a 5G-enabled version that launched a little later for $499. Let's look at some of the other differences between the two Pixel 4a variants, and which model is better suited for your needs.

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: Similar aesthetic with a few key differences

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Pixel 4a 5G

(Image credit: Android Central)

The Google Pixel 4a is the default recommendation if you're looking to pick up a cheap Android phone, and that's entirely down to one feature: the camera. By bringing the camera from the Pixel 4 series to the Pixel 4a, Google has an insurmountable lead over its rivals in this segment.

The Pixel 4a gets a lot right in other areas as well. With a height of just 144mm, it is ideally suited for one-handed use. With phones getting taller with every generation, the Pixel 4a is the perfect compact phone in 2020.

The Pixel 4a 5G has a large battery and 5G, while the Pixel 4a is the perfect compact phone.

The Pixel 4a 5G takes the same fundamentals as the Pixel 4a and introduces a few new features. The design aesthetic is unchanged, with both phones offering a polycarbonate chassis, but the Pixel 4a 5G has a larger 3,885mAh battery that delivers more screen-on-time. The charging tech is identical across both devices, with Google offering 18W wired charging. You won't find wireless charging on either the Pixel 4a 5G or the regular Pixel 4a.

The key differentiator for the Pixel 4a 5G is the Snapdragon 765G chipset with 5G connectivity. The chipset offers much better performance in day-to-day use over the Snapdragon 730 in the Pixel 4a, so if you like to play games on your phone, the Pixel 4a 5G is a better option.

Both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G have identical OLED displays, with the former offering a 5.8-inch screen and the latter a 6.2-inch panel. The panels offer HDR, are backed by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, and are limited to 60Hz. The larger screen gives the Pixel 4a 5G a slight edge, but the panel quality itself is identical between both models.

Google Pixel 4a 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Both phones also come with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with Google offering a single storage and memory configuration this year. With no microSD slot on either device, there's no way to extend the internal storage. Interestingly, both the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G come with a 3.5mm jack.

The Pixel 4a 5G has a wide-angle lens at the back — just like the Pixel 5.

Another key differentiator for the Pixel 4a 5G is the 16MP wide-angle camera at the back in addition to the primary 12.2MP lens. The wide-angle lens gives you much more versatility when taking photos, and the module is on the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G but not the regular Pixel 4a.

That said, the 12.2MP primary lens on the Pixel 4a takes photos of the same caliber as the Pixel 4a 5G, so you're not missing out in that area. The only difference is that you don't get the ability to take wide-angle shots on the regular Pixel 4a.

Both phones will get three guaranteed Android version updates, but with the Pixel 4a 5G coming with Android 11 out of the box, it has a slight edge in this area. The Pixel 4a debuted with Android 10, but it is entirely likely Google will update the regular variant to Android 14 three years down the line.

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: All the specs you care about

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CategoryGoogle Pixel 4a 5GGoogle Pixel 4a
Operating systemAndroid 11Android 11
Display6.2-inch OLED 2340x1080 (19.5:9) HDR, Gorilla Glass 35.81-inch OLED 2340x1080 (19.5:9) HDR, Gorilla Glass 3
ChipsetSnapdragon 765G1 x 2.4GHz A761 x 2.2GHz A766 x 1.8GHz A55, Adreno 6207nmSnapdragon 7302 x 2.22GHz Cotex A766 x 1.80GHz Cortex A55, Adreno 6188nm
MicroSD slot
Rear camera 112.2MP, f/1.74K at 60fps12.2MP, f/1.74K at 30fps
Rear camera 216MP, f/2.2107-degree wide-angle lens
Front camera8MP, f/2.08MP, f/2.0
Connectivity5G, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, A-GPSWi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, A-GPS
Audio3.5mm jack, Stereo sound3.5mm jack, Stereo sound
Battery3885mAh, Non-removable3140mAh, Non-removable
Charging18W USB-C 3.118W USB-C 3.1
Water resistance
SecurityRear fingerprintRear fingerprint
Dimensions153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm, 168g144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm, 143g
ColorsJust BlackJust Black

Google Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a: It all comes down to 5G

Google Pixel 4a on a black metal bench

(Image credit: Android Central)

With the Pixel 4a 5G retailing for $499, you are getting much better value over the Pixel 4a. The phone costs $150 more than the regular Pixel 4a, and you get a more robust chipset with 5G connectivity, wide-angle camera at the back, and a larger battery.

That said, if you don't care about 5G and are in the market for a smaller phone, the Pixel 4a is the ideal choice. The phone is designed for one-handed use, and it is a delight to hold and use. The 3,140mAh battery is good enough for all-day use, and at $350 it is a great overall value.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.