Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G: Which is right for you?
Google Pixel 5(opens in new tab)
The Pixel 5 is Google's latest high-end flagship, and it's a lot different from its predecessors. Rather than chasing the highest-end specs, Google focused on delivering a great user experience and all the features you could ask for at a compelling price. Between its snappy processor, dual cameras, and big battery, there's a lot to like.
Google Pixel 5
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Google Pixel 4a 5G(opens in new tab)
If you want the core Pixel 5 experience but have less cash to spend, the Pixel 4a 5G fits the bill perfectly. You're getting a lower refresh rate for the display, a plastic build instead of an aluminum one, and no wireless charging or IP rating, but that's it. Everything else is virtually identical, and that's mighty impressive.
Google Pixel 4a 5G
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
With the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, Google's crafted two excellent handsets that offer high-end specs and features without breaking the bank. The Pixel 5 has a few extra goodies you won't find on the 4a 5G, namely wireless charging support, a 90Hz display, and a proper IP68 water resistance rating. You're getting a lot for your money at just $699, but if that's too pricey for you, the Pixel 4a 5G manages to offer a pretty similar experience for $200 less. Either way, you come out on top.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G Price and availability
Before we get too deep into this comparison, you need to know how much both of these phones will cost you and when you'll be able to actually buy them.
The Google Pixel 5 officially launched on October 29, and if you want to pick one up for yourself, it'll set you back $700. As for the Pixel 4a 5G, it launched on November 19 for $500, which means that you can save $200 if you don't need the Pixel 5's additional features.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G The Pixel 5 is a flagship phone for less
As you'd expect given the names of the two phones, the Google Pixel 5 is the higher-end and more premium option. It's a direct successor to 2019's Pixel 4, though Google's strategy is a bit different this time around.
Rather than trying to compete toe-to-toe with the likes of Samsung and Apple by using the most powerful processor and tons of cameras, the Pixel 5 is much more reserved. It has a 90Hz display instead of a 120Hz one, two rear cameras instead of four or five, and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G rather than the 865 or 865+.
That last point is perhaps the most important, as it marks the first entry in the Pixel family to ship without a Snapdragon 800-series processor. This means the Pixel 5 is technically less capable than the Pixel 4 that came out before it, but for the vast majority of consumers, this should do nothing but benefit them. The Snapdragon 765G paired with 8GB of RAM is a great combo, offering fast performance for apps, games, and anything else you want to do. A Snapdragon 865 chip would have resulted in a much higher price for the Pixel 5, and given the economic climate we're currently in, this seems like a smart move on Google's part.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Google Pixel 5||Google Pixel 4a 5G|
|Operating System||Android 11||Android 11|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 756G|
|Rear Camera 1||12.2MP primary|
|Rear Camera 2||16MP ultra-wide|
|Battery||4,080 mAh||3,800 mAh|
5W reverse wireless
|Security||Fingerprint sensor||Fingerprint sensor|
|Dimensions||144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0mm||153.9 x 74.0 x 8.2mm|
Smooth performance on the Pixel 5 is helped by its screen, which as mentioned above, features a 90Hz refresh rate. This is a trend we've seen a lot of over the past year or so, and it's great to see that Google is still supporting it even with the Pixel 5's lower price.
On the subject of cameras, the Pixel 5 ships with the same 12.2MP primary camera Google's relied on for a few generations of Pixels, along with a brand new 16MP ultra-wide camera. The telephoto sensor from the Pixel 4 is gone, and while it performed very well, we suspect most people will be just fine with the ultra-wide taking its place.
Rounding out the Pixel 5, Google made sure to equip it with all of the usual flagship trimmings you've come to expect. It has a unibody aluminum design, wireless and reverse wireless charging, and an IP68 rating to protect against dust and water.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G The Pixel 4a 5G makes smart compromises for a lower price
There's no doubt that the Google Pixel 5 is a compelling alternative to devices like the Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro. But what if that's not the type of phone you're after? Announced alongside the Pixel 5 is the more affordable Google Pixel 4a 5G, which has many of the same specs as the Pixel 5, cuts a few extra features, and hits an even lower price.
In regards to what's the same, the Pixel 4a 5G shares the Snapdragon 765G processor, 128GB of storage, OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution, and the two 12.2MP + 16MP rear cameras. Yeah, there are a lot of similarities.
One of the biggest downgrades is the refresh rate, which is set to just 60Hz instead of the smoother 90Hz. There's also no wireless charging and no IP rating for dust/water protection, which are two big things you'll want to consider before handing over any money. You also get slightly less RAM and a bit smaller battery, but those are both minor tweaks.
Those things all make it clear that the Pixel 4a 5G is the less technically impressive smartphone, but seeing as how many of the core components weren't touched, it becomes a really interesting purchase for just $499. It's not trying to be the best Android phone ever — just one of the best deals/values.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G Can't go wrong either way
At the end of the day, this is one of those comparisons that comes down to your budget. With the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G both delivering quality experiences in their own regards, it's up to you to decide how much you're willing to spend.
The Google Pixel 5 is the more premium offering of the two phones, and if you can afford it, you might as well pick it up over the 4a 5G. The 90Hz display is a great upgrade, the aluminum body will feel nicer in day-to-day use, and it's the only phone that offers wireless charging and an IP68 rating.
Here's the thing, though. If those features don't matter to you and/or you'd rather keep some extra cash in your pocket, the Google Pixel 4a 5G is almost every bit as good. In a world where a lot of us are having to cut back on our discretionary spending, it's a fantastic option to have.
2020's premium Pixel
At the top of the Pixel family this year is the Google Pixel 5. It's a bit different from past Google flagships, but this new direction is one we're rather excited about. The Pixel 5 delivers ample performance, impressive cameras, a big battery, and goodies like wireless charging and an IP68 rating. For the price Google's asking, it's a steal.
Tons of value
The same specs for less
Let's say you're interested in the Pixel 5 but just don't care about some of its higher-end features. What's a person to do? Simple — you get the Pixel 4a 5G. This lower-cost option gives you many of the same specs as the Pixel 5, ditches some of its less-necessary offerings, and the result is an extremely capable phone at an even better price.
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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.