Google Pixel 4a vs. Motorola One 5G: Which should you buy?
Google Pixel 4a
The Pixel 4a is the budget phone that manages to do it all. It has good performance, a great OLED display, unmatched cameras, and clean software that's backed by years of updates. It does all of this while retaining a wonderfully small size and price tag, making it a go-to recommendation for just about anyone.
Google Pixel 4a
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Motorola One 5G
With the Motorola One 5G, we have a phone that does some things better than the Pixel, others worse, and does so at a higher price. The 90Hz display, Snapdragon 765G processor, and huge battery are all great, but things like mediocre cameras and carrier exclusivity are not. If you're an AT&T customer, it's certainly worth a look.
Motorola One 5G
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Both of these phones bring a lot to the table while maintaining low price tags, but if we had to pick a winner, we'd choose the Pixel 4a. Its camera is unmatched, performance and battery life are great, and Google backs the phone with three years of major updates and security patches. Even better, it costs just $350 and can be purchased unlocked for use on any carrier that you'd like. The Motorola One 5G is also worth considering, though it doesn't have the same mass appeal of the Pixel. It gets big points with its 90Hz display, faster processor, and larger battery, but it also finds itself hindered by disappointing cameras, worse hardware compared to the 4a, and carrier exclusivity deals.
Google Pixel 4a vs. Motorola One 5G Price and availability
When looking at pricing and availability for the Pixel 4a and Motorola One 5G, the Pixel instantly gets points for being both cheaper and more accessible. It has a retail price of $350, can be purchased at Amazon and Best Buy, and is sold as an unlocked smartphone that can be used on whichever carrier you like — including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and any of their respective MVNOs.
By comparison, the Motorola One 5G costs $445. That price increase isn't too bad considering some of the different specs between the two phones, but where the One 5G tumbles is with how it's being sold. The phone is currently exclusive to AT&T, meaning if you aren't an AT&T customer, you have no way of buying and using the phone.
Motorola has said that the Motorola One 5G is headed to Verizon at some point this fall, but even when that happens, there still won't be an option to buy the phone unlocked and use it wherever you please.
Google Pixel 4a vs. Motorola One 5G The Pixel 4a is best for most people
With that out of the way, let's take a closer look at what it's like to use both phones and where each one shines. Starting with the Pixel 4a, the most obvious advantage is its camera.
On paper, the single 12.2MP sensor looks pretty weak stacked up against the four cameras offered on the Motorola One 5G. To actually use both phones, however, is a completely different story. The Pixel 4a takes absolutely incredible photos, with shots having great detail, depth, and colors regardless of the time of day. Whether you're shooting in broad daylight or in pitch black, the 4a is there to capture a gorgeous image time and time again. No matter the price tag, this sort of camera performance is beyond impressive.
The other big benefit of the Pixel 4a is its software. Both the Pixel 4a and Motorola One 5G ship with clean builds of Android and their own sets of useful feature add-ons, but the Pixel is backed by Google's excellent update policy. You're looking at three years of major OS updates and monthly security patches, with updates heading to the phone first before anyone else. If you plan on keeping your phone for a long time, this is a huge perk to consider.
Other specs of the Pixel 4a aren't as jaw-dropping, but they all contribute to make the phone a joy to use. The OLED display looks great, there aren't any performance issues, and you get reliable all-day battery life. I'm especially fond of the Pixel 4a's design, which is super lightweight and easy to use with one-hand (something we don't get enough of with phones these days). There's a reason we consider the Pixel 4a to be one of the best Android phones of 2020.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Google Pixel 4a||Motorola One 5G|
|Operating System||Android 11||Android 10|
2340 x 1080
2520 x 1080
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G|
|Rear Camera 1||12.2MP primary|
|Rear Camera 2||❌||8MP ultra-wide|
|Rear Camera 3||❌||5MP macro|
|Rear Camera 4||❌||2MP depth|
|Selfie Camera 1||8MP primary|
|Selfie Camera 2||❌||8MP ultra-wide|
3.5mm headphone jack
3.5mm headphone jack
18W wired charging
15W wired charging
|Dimensions||144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm||168 x 74 x 9mm|
Google Pixel 4a vs. Motorola One 5G Where the Motorola One 5G shines
That brings us to the Motorola One 5G, which could be a great purchase depending on where your needs lie (and which wireless carrier you're subscribed to). The Motorola One 5G has three main benefits over the Pixel, with those being its display, processor, and battery.
In regards to the display, we're treated to a much larger 6.7-inch LCD panel with a crisp 2520x1080 resolution. It's a perfectly fine screen with good colors and detail, but what helps it stand out is the 90Hz refresh rate. This makes all of the scrolling, swiping, and other animations considerably more fluid than how they look on the Pixel 4a, and especially at this price point, it's a fantastic feature to have. When you pair that with the more powerful Snapdragon 765G processor, the Motorola One 5G ends up feeling a bit snappier and more responsive than the Pixel.
Then there's that 5,000 mAh battery, which is substantially larger than the 3,140 mAh one that Google gives you. The Motorola One 5G easily lasts for over two days on a single charge, which is something a lot of other devices just can't do.
All of that's great, but that's not to say everything about the Motorola One 5G is better than the Pixel 4a. In fact, it has a few different problems you don't have to worry about if you get the Pixel. Motorola's phone is difficult to use one-handed, its camera performance is pretty disappointing compared to what the 4a offers, and the single mono speaker is annoying if you watch a lot of YouTube or movies.
Worse than all of that, though, is the lack of updates offered for the Motorola One 5G. Motorola is committed to just a single update for the device, which will take it from Android 10 to Android 11. After that, it won't get anything else. That won't be a deal-breaker for everyone, but it is annoying if you plan on keeping the phone for any longer than a year.
Google Pixel 4a vs. Motorola One 5G Availability is king
At the end of the day, a lot of this comes back to the phones' availability. Anyone can go out right now, buy the Pixel 4a, and use it on their carrier — no matter if you use AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Mint Mobile, Cricket Wireless, etc., etc. Factor that together with the lower price, and the Pixel 4a becomes an unignorable value.
The Motorola One 5G is a non-starter for anyone that doesn't have AT&T, but if you do, there are a few other things you'll want to consider. Motorola's phone doesn't have as good of cameras as the Pixel 4a, but its battery life is substantially better. The 90Hz display is a wonderful treat, but are you willing to sacrifice long-term update support to get it? There's also the matter of size, with the Pixel 4a being nice and compact while the Motorola One 5G is rather bulky.
Once you answer those questions, it should be pretty clear which phone is right for you. Happy shopping!
The phone for everyone
A seriously great value
The Pixel 4a is one of those phones that easy to recommend to anyone. Excellent camera? Check. Fast performance? Yep. Sharp and colorful display? Of course. Easy-to-use software that'll get updates for years to come? You betcha.
Only at AT&T
Big battery, smooth display
The Motorola One 5G isn't as well-rounded of a device like the Pixel 4a, but for the right buyer, it is a compelling option. The 90Hz display is buttery smooth, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G is super powerful, and that 5,000 mAh battery is a treat.
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Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.