The Pixel 5 offers exciting camera upgrades and is the first Pixel phone to feature a wide-angle lens at the back. The phone has robust hardware with 5G connectivity, a 90Hz display, IP68 water resistance, and 15W wireless charging — along with 5W reverse wireless charging. It is a great all-around option if you’re in the market for an affordable flagship in 2021.
- Stunning 90Hz OLED display
- Snapdragon 765G with 5G connectivity
- Incredible cameras with a wide-angle lens
- 15W wireless / 5W reverse wireless charging
- IP68 water resistance
- Three Android version updates
- Limited global availability
- Doesn’t have Qualcomm’s fastest chipset
The Pixel 4a distills the fundamentals into a more affordable package. You still get decent hardware in day-to-day use and all-day battery life, but the value on offer is extraordinary. Combine that with the fact that the camera on the Pixel 4a is leagues ahead of anything in this segment, and it’s an easy recommendation in the mid-range segment.
- Outstanding value
- Class-leading camera
- Decent hardware for day-to-day use
- Three Android version updates
- Single-camera at the back
- Limited to 4G connectivity
- No wireless charging
Google’s flagship Pixel 5 launched just two months after the introduction of the Pixel 4a, and it comes with exciting hardware and camera upgrades. Google took a more streamlined strategy with the portfolio, with the design aesthetic largely unchanged between the two devices. But there are a lot of differences here, so let’s get started.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a: Google’s flagship packs a ton of exciting upgrades
Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central
The Pixel 5 furthers Google’s smartphone ambitions by packing in a lot of interesting updates. With Google opting for a mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset instead of the Snapdragon 865, the Pixel 5 undercuts the likes of the Galaxy S21 and other Android flagships by a significant margin.
But if you’re looking for value, you’ll be hard put to find a device that’s better than the Pixel 4a. By bringing its flagship-tier camera to the mid-range segment, Google makes a bold statement with the more affordable phone.
The Pixel 5 has a 90Hz panel, wireless charging, water-resistance, and 5G connectivity.
So let’s take a look at where these two phones differ. The Pixel 5 costs a lot more than the Pixel 4a, but it includes a host of extra features. While the overall design aesthetic isn’t too different from the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 5 has a metal unibody design that feels much more premium in hand. Then there’s the fact that the green color option for the Pixel 5 looks downright gorgeous.
Then there’s the screen. The Pixel 4a has a 5.8-inch OLED panel, with the Pixel 5 offering a 6.0-inch OLED screen. Both phones have the same FHD+ resolution, but the Pixel 5 has a 90Hz display and features HDR10+, offering vibrant colors for streaming content. In addition, the Pixel 5 features a layer of Gorilla Glass 6, whereas the Pixel 4a has Gorilla Glass 3.
As for the internal hardware, the Pixel 5 has the Snapdragon 765G chipset with 5G connectivity, while the Pixel 4a features the more modest Snapdragon 730G. The Pixel 4a holds up just fine in day-to-day use, but it doesn’t have the same performance as the Pixel 5 — particularly for gaming. Both phones come with 128GB of storage as standard, and Google is fixing past mistakes by offering a generous amount of RAM — 6GB on the Pixel 4a and 8GB on the Pixel 5.
Google is offering a wide-angle camera at the back for the first time on the Pixel 5.
The Pixel 5 continues to take the lead on the battery front. With a 4,080mAh battery, it handily beats the 3,140mAh unit on the Pixel 4a. Both phones have 18W fast charging, but the Pixel 5 comes with 15W wireless and 5W reverse wireless charging.
There are interesting updates on the camera side of things as well. While both devices use the same 12.2MP primary lens, the Pixel 5 gets a 16MP wide-angle module at the back — the first time we’re seeing one on a Pixel phone.
The Pixel 5 has a slight edge on the software front. Google guarantees three Android version updates, but with the Pixel 5 launching Android 11 out of the box, it will update to Android 14. The Pixel 4a came with Android 10, so Google is under no obligation to deliver the Android 14 update to the phone.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a: All the specs
|Category||Google Pixel 5||Google Pixel 4a|
|Operating system||Android 11||Android 11|
|Display||6.0-inch 90Hz OLED
HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 6
Gorilla Glass 3
1 x 2.4GHz A76
1 x 2.2GHz A76
6 x 1.8GHz A55
2 x 2.22GHz Cotex A76
6 x 1.80GHz Cortex A55
|Rear camera 1||12.2MP, f/1.7
4K at 60fps
4K at 30fps
|Rear camera 2||16MP, f/2.2
107-degree wide-angle lens
|Front camera||8MP, f/2.0||8MP, f/2.0|
|Connectivity||5G, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0
|Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0
|Charging||18W USB-C 3.1
15W wireless charging
5W reverse wireless charging
|18W USB-C 3.1|
|Security||Rear fingerprint||Rear fingerprint|
|Colors||Just Black, Sorta Sage||Just Black|
Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a: How much do you care about extras?
Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central
Regardless of whatever phone you pick up, you’re getting great value. The Pixel 5 continues to be one of the best Android phones money can buy, and it has a premium design, 90Hz display, incredible camera, and wireless charging. The Pixel 4a, meanwhile, is an outstanding value, delivering a flagship-tier camera in the mid-range segment.
Pixel 5 is the outright winner here, but if you’re in the market for value, get the Pixel 4a.
Ultimately, it comes down to how much you care about the extras. Interested in the switch to a phone with a 90Hz panel or need wireless charging? Then the Pixel 5 is the obvious choice here. The phone costs double that of the Pixel 4a, but you are getting enough features to justify the added cost.
There’s a 5G-enabled chipset, the aforementioned 90Hz display, IP68 water resistance, an ultra-wide camera, 15W wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging, and a more premium design. If you see yourself needing any extras, then the Pixel 5 is a great overall choice.
But if you’re in the market for value and don’t want to spend too much money on a phone, the Pixel 4a is the ideal alternative. The hardware may not be as robust, but it is still great in day-to-day use, you get 6GB of RAM, and the camera is absolutely fantastic. For $350, you are getting a lot of value here.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either the Pixel 5 or the Pixel 4a. Both phones deliver great value in their categories, and with three years of guaranteed Android updates, the Pixel 5 will be getting Android 14 and the Pixel 4a switching to Android 13.
Google Pixel 5
All the extras
The flagship you deserve
The Pixel 5 ticks all the right boxes. It has robust hardware with a 90Hz display, outstanding cameras, 5G connectivity, all-day battery life, and wireless charging. Combine that with three guaranteed Android updates and plenty of software niceties, and you get one of the best phones around right now.
Just the basics
Google Pixel 4a
Outstanding mid-range value
The Pixel 4a is all about delivering the best value. The phone has decent hardware and a plain design, but the camera is the best you’ll find in this segment, and you get three guaranteed Android version updates. If you don’t care about a 90Hz screen or wireless charging, the Pixel 4a is a great option.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is the Asia Editor at Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India’s technology revolution. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.