Better battery and value

Google Pixel 5a

Pixel 5a 5g Render Both Sides Adjusted

On its way out

Google Pixel 5

Google Pixel 5 Sorta Sage Render

The Pixel 5a is a phone ready to head out on a chargerless weekend or an all-day Reddit and reading marathon, packing the same Pixel 5 performance into a much more affordable package. This will be the best mid-range phone of 2021 — at least in the U.S. and Japan.

$449 at Google Store

Pros

  • Same processor/specs as Pixel 5
  • Same solid cameras
  • Lower price tag
  • Much longer battery life
  • Finally has water resistance

Cons

  • Only available in U.S. and Japan
  • No wireless charging

Last year's Pixel is easier to use one-handed and supports faster wireless charging than Samsung's latest phones, but who wants to pay 2021 prices for a 2020 phone? Well, at least the Pixel 5 is widely available (for now).

$699 at Amazon

Pros

  • Smaller screen and profile
  • mmWave support
  • 15W wireless charging
  • Available in more countries

Cons

  • Much more expensive
  • About to be replaced with Pixel 6
  • Average battery life

The Pixel 5a is here, and now that it's arrived, the Pixel 4a 5G is getting discontinued — in the two markets the Pixel 5a is launching in, anyway. However, I'm not sure why the Pixel 5 isn't going away immediately, too. While at first, this match might seem to be a classic case of mid-range value vs premium features, the Pixel 5a actually has two of the three features that distinguished the Pixel 5 from the Pixel 4a 5G last year.

If you're thinking about grabbing a Pixel 5 on sale before the Pixel 6 replaces it, here's why you should stop what you're doing and buy the Pixel 5a instead.

Google Pixel 5a vs. Pixel 5: Size, battery, and wireless charging are the only real differences

Google Pixel 5a Rear 2Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

When the Pixel 5 launched last fall alongside the Pixel 4a 5G — which it shared almost all specs with — it could at least distinguish itself from the larger, less premium device with wireless charging, water resistance, and the aluminum unibody design that came in that delicious Sorta Sage green. With a $100-$200 gap, it was easier to recommend the Pixel 5 for a more pocket-friendly phone that could withstand rainy days and featured a crisp 90Hz screen.

Unfortunately, the Pixel 5a picked up water resistance alongside its much beefier battery, meaning that among this sea of same specs below, there's far less for the Pixel 5 to use to justify its price tag.

Google Pixel 5a Google Pixel 5
Operating system Android 11 Android 11
Display 6.34-inch 60Hz OLED
2400x1080px (20:9)
HDR, Gorilla Glass 3
6-inch 90Hz OLED
2340x1080px (19.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 6
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
1 x 2.4GHz A76
1 x 2.2GHz A76
6 x 1.8GHz A55
Adreno 620
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
1 x 2.4GHz A76
1 x 2.2GHz A76
6 x 1.8GHz A55
Adreno 620
RAM 6GB 8GB
Storage 128GB 128GB
MicroSD slot
Rear camera 1 12.2MP, f/1.7
Optical and electronic image stabilization
Dual pixel phase autofocus
4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps
12.2MP, f/1.7
Optical and electronic image stabilization
Dual pixel phase autofocus
4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps
Rear camera 2 16MP, f/2.2
Ultrawide lens
117-degree field-of-view
16MP, f/2.2
Ultrawide lens
117-degree field-of-view
Front camera 8MP, f/2.0
Fixed focus lens
83 degree field of view
8MP, f/2.0
Fixed focus lens
83 degree field of view
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, A-GPS
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, A-GPS
5G Sub-6: N1, 2, 5, 12, 25, 28, 41, 66, 71, 77, 78
mmWave: ❌
Sub-6: N1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 28, 41, 66, 71, 77, 78
mmWave: N258, 260, 261
Audio 3.5mm jack
Stereo speakers
Stereo sound
Battery 4,680mAh
18W wired charging
3,885mAh
18W wired charging
15W wireless charging
5w reverse wireless charging
Water resistance IP67 IP68
Security Rear Pixel Imprint
Titan M security module
Rear Pixel Imprint
Titan M security module
Dimensions 156.2x73.1x8.8mm
183g
144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm
151g
Colors Mostly Black Just Black
Sorta Sage

Pixel 5 vs Pixel 4a 5GSource: Hayato Huseman / Android Central This is the Pixel 4a 5G with the Pixel 5, but the size comparison still fits perfectly.

If you're a fan of small phones, the Pixel 5 might win you over, but the Pixel 5a offers the same performance. (OK, gamers might appreciate that extra 2GB of RAM.) Even though the Pixel 5a screen is only 60Hz, it's still easy to read outside and you'll be able to keep it on much, longer before needing to find a charger.

The Pixel 5a is worth it for the battery alone.

I averaged over seven hours of screen time per charge on the Pixel 5a, which will last a normal user 36-48 hours. I got 11 hours of screen time from a two-day single-battery cycle, and I could've probably gotten another half hour if I hadn't plugged in at 5% because I wanted to finally go to bed. Wireless charging would've been nice, but with numbers like these, I can forgive its absence.

The Pixel 5a is also the first a-series Pixel to get water resistance, which brings it one step closer to being one of the best affordable Android phones on the market. You also get water resistance with the Pixel 5, but it still falls further behind thanks to its premium price tag.

Google Pixel 5aSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

The only real reason to pick the Pixel 5 over the Pixel 5a comes down to availability: the Pixel 5a is only launching in the U.S. and Japan. In every other market Pixels currently sell in, you're still stuck with the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 — at least until the Pixel 6 arrives this fall.

Better battery and value

Pixel 5a 5g Render Both Sides Adjusted

Google Pixel 5a

Water resistance and multi-day battery make this an easy winner.

Even if the Pixel 5a didn't have double the battery life of the Pixel 5, it still has the same power, same cameras, and the same support life ahead of it for $250 less. Its only Achilles heel is that it's not available in most countries

On its way out

Google Pixel 5 Sorta Sage Render

Google Pixel 5

Ready to slip into history

If you live in a market where the Pixel 5a isn't available and you're not willing to shell out $1,000 or more for the Pixel 6, the Pixel 5 will give you a decent experience in a nice compact chassis. Just don't expect it to be available for much longer.

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