GOOGLE PIXEL 5A REVIEW, BETTER THAN EVER

Google Pixel 5A review: Snappy performance, familiar design

Google’s newest Pixel phone is solid and affordable at $449. Here’s what we think so far.

Google has unveiled its latest Pixel 5a 5G smartphone, sporting a 6.34-inch OLED screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, dual rear-camera configuration and a 4,680mAh battery. Check out its specs and price below.

Google’s $449 Pixel 5A with 5G is the second major Pixel announcement this year, hot on the heels of the Pixel 6 teaser earlier this month. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor that powers a 6.34-inch OLED display. The phone also has IP67 water- and dust-resistance.

So while Google’s highest-end Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones will include the new in-house Tensor chip, the 5A (as I’ll call it from now on) will have more in common with last year’s Pixel 4A 5G. For Pixel fans with deeper pockets, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s chip and redesign could be exciting, but this Pixel likely will be shooting for a more budget-conscious crowd.

The Pixel 5a has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset, 6GB RAM and 128GB storage as the Pixel 4a 5G, so there’s no advancement in its specs. The Pixel 5a also has the same cameras as its predecessor: a 12MP main camera and 16MP ultra-wide shooter on the rear, along with an 8MP front-facing camera.

What’s different? The battery, for one: the power pack in the Pixel 5a has more capacity (4,680mAh) than the one in the Pixel 4a (3,140mAh) or the Pixel 4a 5G (4,080mAh). The phone is also slightly bigger, with a 6.34-inch Full HD Plus OLED display (compared to the 4a 5G’s 6.2-inch screen), and – in a first for Google’s cheaper ‘a’-series phones – it has a dust and water-resistant rating (IP67, so your phone will be safe submerged up to one meter of water for 30 minutes).

In short, then, the phone brings few improvements over its predecessor, but it’s still one of the best mid-range devices you can buy. It’s unlikely to impress anyone who’s looking for true innovation, but it’s probable that Google is keeping back the big upgrades for the Tensor chipset-powered Google Pixel 6 coming later this year. 

Google Pixel 5a price and release date

The Google Pixel 5a launched on August 17, 2021 and is available for preorder now, while the Google Pixel 5a release date will be August 26 in the US and Japan. There is currently no reason to think this phone will come to the UK or Australia.

The phone comes in a single configuration – 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage – and costs $449 (around £325 / AU$610). 

That’s actually a bit cheaper than the Google Pixel 4a 5G’s price of $499 / £499 / AU$799. And given that we’re hearing rumors that the Google Pixel 6 will be a more premium phone, you may not get the company’s next flagship for as cheap a price as the Google Pixel 5’s $699 / £599 / AU$999 – meaning the Pixel 5a may pale in comparison when it launches.

Snappy performance, familiar design

The 5A’s chip is the same as the one used in last year’s 4A 5G: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor. The similarities don’t end there, as both phones also have 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. They each have similar front and rear cameras with a hole punch for the front camera, and both have a fingerprint reader on the back and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top.

The camera system is the same as last year’s Pixel 4A with 5G. It has all the same features, including a portrait mode, Night Sight and an ultrawide lens capable of taking pleasing photos at night and during the day.

5G… with a catch 

5G support is indeed part of this cheaper Pixel, but the details of that support get complicated. You should be able to connect to low-band 5G networks from T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. 

But whereas last year’s Pixel 5 included support for higher-frequency millimeter-wave 5G networks, the 5A does not. This means faster speeds, from what Verizon calls Ultra Wideband and what AT&T calls 5G Plus, won’t be supported. For a midrange phone this isn’t a deal-breaker, but it isn’t ideal. 

Since Google Fi runs on T-Mobile’s network, it works fine on that carrier’s low-band as well as its faster midband 5G offering, which it calls Ultra Capacity 5G. 

Looking into 5G’s future, the 5A’s support will be even more complicated. The phone’s support of 5G networks running on the C-band is unclear. This is wireless spectrum that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile spent billions on earlier this year. For Verizon and AT&T, that should provide a significant speed boost beyond just a handful of city blocks. 

The first of these networks from AT&T and Verizon should arrive later this year, with Verizon stating earlier this year that this C-band network will allow it to offer peak download speeds of 1 gigabit per second. The Pixel 5, ironically, was announced as one of the first phones to support Verizon’s C-band network.

If you’re with T-Mobile or a carrier that runs on its network (like Google Fi) you have less to worry about when it comes to accessing a speedy midband 5G network. As for prospective buyers who have AT&T or Verizon, that lack of future support could muddy what’s otherwise a solid $449 phone.

PIXEL 5A 5G SPECS

Pixel 5A 5GPixel 4A 5GPixel 3A
Display size, resolution6.34-inch OLED, 2,400×1,080 pixels6.2-inch OLED, 2,340×1,080 pixels5.6-inch OLED, 2,220×1,080 pixels
Pixel density413ppi413ppi441ppi
Dimensions156x73x8.8mm154x74x8.2mm (Sub-6 only); 154x74x8.5 mm (mmWave + Sub-6)151x70x8.2mm
Weight6.45 oz; 183g5.93 oz; 168g (Sub-6 only); 6.03 oz; 171g (mmWave + Sub-6)5.19 oz; 147g
SoftwareAndroid 11Android 11Android 9.0
Camera16-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (dual pixel)12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide)12.2-megapixel
Front camera8-megapixel8-megapixel8-megapixel
Video4K4K4K
ChipsetsSnapdragon 765G (processing power chip) Titan M chipset (security chip)Snapdragon 765G2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
Storage128GB128GB64GB
RAM6GB6GB4GB
Headphone JackYesYesNo
Battery4,680 mAh3,800 mAh3,000 mAh
Special features5G, IP67 water resistance, dual SIM, stereo speakers, 18W fast charging5G, dual-SIM (nano-SIM and e-SIM), fast chargingAR in Google Maps, time-lapse video shooting
Price (USD)$449$499$399

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