Google has recently announced its most powerful smartphone of 2020, the Pixel 5. This handset does come with a mid-range SoC, but despite that, it’s Google’s new flagship. That being said, most of you are probably wondering if it’s worth getting the Pixel 5 over the Pixel 4a. The difference in their price tags is quite considerable, as you can buy two Pixel 4a’s for the price of one Pixel 5. Well, that is something we’ll try to figure out, as we’re here to compare the Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a.
There are quite a few differences between these two devices, although they’re very similar in some ways. The Google Pixel 4a has been praised all around, and we were also able to find out how good that device is during the review period. So, considering its low price tag, and everything it offers, what’s the appeal of the Pixel 5? Well, aside from the fact the phone comes with a more powerful SoC, its build is also more premium, and so is its display. The phone also has an edge in the camera department, and so on.
There are quite a few differences here, and the Pixel 5 is the better device, that much is clear. The only question is if it’s $350 better than the Pixel 4a. Well, if you’d like some help making up your mind, do read on. Let’s kick off the Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a comparison.
|Google Pixel 5||Google Pixel 4a|
|Screen size||6-inch fullHD+ OLED display (90Hz)||5.81-inch fullHD+ OLED display (60Hz)|
|Screen resolution||2340 x 1080||2340 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G|
|RAM||8GB (LPDDR4X)||6GB (LPDDR4X)|
|Storage||128GB, non-expandable||128GB, non-expandable|
|Rear cameras||12.2MP (f/1.7 aperture, 27mm lens, 1.4um pixel size, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)|
16MP (ultra-wide, f/2.2 aperture, 1.0um pixel size, 107-degree FoV)
|12.2MP (f/1.7 aperture, 27mm lens, 1.4um pixel size, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)|
|Front cameras||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)|
|Battery||4,000mAh, non-removable, 18W fast battery charging, wireless charging, reverse charging||3,140mAh, non-removable, 18W fast battery charging|
|Dimensions||144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0 mm||144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm|
|Weight||151 grams||143 grams|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||Rear-facing fingerprint scanner||Rear-facing fingerprint scanner|
|OS||Android 11||Android 10 (upgradeable)|
Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a: Design
Now, when it comes to the design, these two phones do look quite similar, but looks can be somewhat deceiving. These two phones are not using the same build materials. The Google Pixel 4a is made out of polycarbonate (plastic), while the Pixel 5 combines metal with plastic. So, it offers a more premium build than the Pixel 4a. Not to say that the Pixel 4a feels cheap or anything of the sort, quite the contrary. The phone actually feels really nice and sturdy. As long as you don’t mind polycarbonate, there’s nothing in its design that should deter you from getting it.
The two phones do look quite similar, as already mentioned. Both offer really thin bezels, though the Pixel 5’s are slightly thinner. A display camera hole sits in the top-left corner of both phones. A fingerprint scanner is located on the back of both phones, and both devices offer flat displays. Even the camera module is placed in the same spot on the back of both phones. We’ll talk more about the cameras later on. The physical keys are also in the same place on both phones, on the right side.
The two devices are almost identical in terms of footprint. The Pixel 4a is every-so-slightly shorter, narrower, and thinner. The difference is so minimal, you’ll hardly notice it, as it’s less than 1mm in terms of height and thickness, and exactly 1mm in terms of width. The Google Pixel 5 weighs 151 grams, while the Pixel 4a weighs 143 grams. Both are extremely light, needless to say. They’re also not that difficult to use in one hand because of that, and because of their size. The fact there’s no glass on the back also helps with it, as they’re not too slippery.
Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a: Display
Both of these phones include an OLED display, and both are flat, but they’re not the same. The Google Pixel 5 comes with a 6-inch fullHD+ (2340 x 1080) display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The Google Pixel 4a, on the other hand, sports a 5.81-inch fullHD+ (2340 x 1080) display with a 60Hz refresh rate. The Google Pixel 5 also comes with better display protection, as it includes Gorilla Glass 6, compared to Gorilla Glass 3 on the Pixel 4a. Both displays do support HDR output, though.
Both panels are quite vibrant, and do offer good viewing angles. The colors are punchy, and both displays are really well optimized. Those are at least our initial impressions. Now, will you notice the difference in the refresh rate? Yes, of course. The difference between 60 and 90Hz displays is quite noticeable side-by-side. The 90Hz panel on the Pixel 5 is noticeably smoother, which is especially noticeable when scrolling through content on the display. If you’ve never used a high refresh rate display, you’ll be just fine with the Pixel 4a’s 60Hz unit. The Pixel 5’s display is slightly larger, but not by much, so you won’t miss that difference.
Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a: Performance
What about the performance? There has to be a difference, right? Well, yes, there is, but it’s not monumental. The Google Pixel 4a is a fluid phone, it does have its stutters and whatnot, but it’s a good performer overall. The Snapdragon 765G inside the Pixel 5 does make a difference, though. The Pixel 5 is, without a doubt, a better performer, and you’ll experience less stutters, despite the fact it’s running a display with a higher refresh rate. The Snapdragon 730G inside the Pixel 4a is not exactly on par with the Snapdragon 765G.
Both phones handle everyday tasks really well, though. If I’m being completely honest, most people won’t end up complaining about the Pixel 4a performance. Those who really want the bleeding edge in terms of silicone will likely go for a smartphone with a flagship SoC either way, and neither of these phones offer that. The good news is, even if you’re a light gamer, these two phones will do just fine. The Google Pixel 5 can even run more demanding titles, and it’ll do a really good job most of the time.
If you’re worried about performance on either of these phones, don’t be. Both have a lot to offer in that regard, and if you want more smoothness and better performance overall, the Pixel 5 is the phone for you. It is, without a doubt, the better option, not only because of its high refresh rate display, and better SoC, but also because it offers more RAM.
Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a: Battery
What about the battery? Well, the Google Pixel 5 does include a larger unit, but it also sports a larger display, and a higher refresh rate. To be completely honest, both phones offer really good battery life. The Pixel 4 really dropped the ball last year, in that regard, and the Pixel 4 XL wasn’t exactly a road warrior either. Well, Google listened to consumers, and decided to improve with this generation of Pixel phones.
Both phones can handle regular use, and even more demanding users should be fine. The vast majority of you won’t have to charge either phone before the end of the day. The only time that will need to be done is if you’re really pushing the phone hard all day by playing intensive games or something of the sort. During regular use, both should be able to offer over 6 hours of screen-on-time.
You’ll be glad to know that both devices offer fast charging. It’s not the fastest charging around, but it does the job. You’ll get 18W fast wired charging with both phones. Do note that wireless charging is supported only on the Pixel 5, and the same goes for reverse charging. The Pixel 5 does support reverse charging, but only wired, wireless reverse charging is not included, so keep that in mind.
Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 4a: Cameras
Google has been using the same main camera sensor on its phones for years now. Well, that sensor is now back on both the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a. The Snapdragon 765G technically has better image processing, but the difference in images you take will not be visible. There may be occasions where the Pixel 5 will pull off a better photo, but for the most part, you’ll get almost identical results out of these two smartphones. They’re excellent in all conditions, basically, it doesn’t matter if it’s daylight or nighttime. The dynamic range is excellent, and Google’s image processing works like a charm.
The Google Pixel 5 does have an advantage in the camera department, though, due to its secondary ultra-wide camera. That camera will come in really handy when you need to take a landscape shot, or something of the sort. It also comes with Google’s image processing, and you can utilize Night Sight with it. Images from the main sensor will look better, but Google did a great job with this camera as well. The Pixel 4a has only one camera on the back, by the way. One more thing worth noting is the fact Pixel 4a is limited to 4K recording at 30 FPS, while the Pixel 5 can record at 4K 60 FPS.
Both the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a offer stereo speakers, kind of. The Google Pixel 4a actually comes with two physical speakers, while the Pixel 5's secondary speaker is actually the display. Its display vibrates in order to create sound. The sound coming from the Pixel 4a is louder and sharper, actually, though the Pixel 5 is nothing to scoff at. That vibrating display is really good for phone calls, though it's not as good for stereo sound as a physical secondary speaker would be. Luckily, the main speaker is powerful enough, and it makes up for it.
The Google Pixel 5 does not include a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the Pixel 4a does. You can always use a Type-C port or Bluetooth headphones for the Pixel 5, of course. In any case, the sound coming from both phones, through a good pair of headphones, is not ground-breaking, but it’s good enough. The bass could be a bit more pronounced, but overall, it’s a good balance across the spectrum.