This time around, we’ll compare two smartphones that are placed in a $450-$750 price bracket, the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9. The Pixel 5a 5G was released not long ago, while the OnePlus 9 has been around since March. Some people consider both of these phones mid-rangers, even though the OnePlus 9 is more of a high-end phone, due to its internals. Regardless, their price tags are not that far apart (even though there is a difference), so they’re definitely worth comparing. It will be interesting to see a mid-range vs high-end comparison.
The Google Pixel 5a 5G is Google’s latest mid-ranger, and a direct successor to the Pixel 4a 5G. The company did not change the hardware too much, though this handset did get some upgrades along the way. The OnePlus 9, on the other hand, is playing a smaller brother to OnePlus’ flagship, the OnePlus 9 Pro. OnePlus did cut some corners on this phone compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro, but it’s still more than a compelling device. That being said, let’s compare the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9, shall we.
|Google Pixel 5a 5G||OnePlus 9|
|Screen size||6.34-inch fullHD+ OLED display (60Hz)||6.55-inch fullHD+ AMOLED display (120Hz refresh rate)|
|Screen resolution||2400 x 1080||2400 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|RAM||6GB (LPDDR4X)||8GB/12GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128GB, non-expandable||128GB/256GB (UFS 3.1), 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, 119-degree FoV)
|48MP (Sony IMX689, f/1.8 aperture, 1.12um pixel size 48MP images, 2.24um pixel size 12MP images (4-in-1 binning), 7P lens, EIS)|
50MP (ultra-wide, Sony IMX766, 7P lens, f/2.2 aperture, Freeform Lens)
|Front cameras||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)||16MP (Sony IMX471, 1.0um pixel size, EIS, Fixed Focus, f/2.4 aperture)|
|Battery||4,680mAh, non-removable, 18W fast battery charging||4,500mAh, non-removable, 65W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging|
|Dimensions||154.9 x 73.7 x 7.6mm||160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm (North America & Europe)|
160 x 73.9 x 8.1mm (India & China)
|Weight||183 grams||192 grams (North America & Europe)|
183 grams (India & China)
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||Rear-facing fingerprint scanner||In-display fingerprint scanner (optical)|
|OS||Android 11||Android 11|
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Design
From the front, these two phones are not too different in comparison. Both offer thin bezels, a flat display, and a display camera hole that sits in the top-left corner. The power / lock button sits on the right-hand side of both phones, though the position of the volume up and down buttons is on opposite sides. The OnePlus 9 also has an alert slider on the right. In any case, when you flip the two devices over, you start seeing some major differences.
The Pixel 5a 5G has a fingerprint scanner back there, along with its dual camera setup. The OnePlus 9 includes three cameras back there, no rear-facing fingerprint scanner, and its camera island looks considerably different. This handset actually has an in-display fingerprint scanner, in case you were wondering. The OnePlus 9 comes with a plastic frame, and a glass backplate. The Pixel 5a 5G is made out of metal, though that metal shell is covered by resin, which will feel mostly like plastic under your fingers, but not the cheap kind.
The Pixel 5a 5G is much easier to use with one hand, mainly due to its smaller size, and the outer shell which is less slippery. The Pixel 5a 5G is shorter, narrower, and thinner than the OnePlus 9. It is also lighter, at least when we compared the US variants. The variant that OnePlus sells in China and India is the exact weight as the Pixel 5a 5G, as it doesn’t have the wireless charging hardware inside. Both phones feel good in the hand, but they also feel completely different. It’s all a matter of preference.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Display
These two handsets have considerably different displays. The Pixel 5a 5G features a 6.34-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED panel. This is a flat display with a 60Hz refresh rate. It does support HDR content, and it is protected by the Gorilla Glass 3. The OnePlus 9, on the other hand, features a 6.55-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) Fluid AMOLED display. This is also a flat display, but it offers a 120Hz refresh rate, and it supports HDR10+ content. It gets quite bright, at 1,100 nits peak brightness, which is brighter than the Pixel 5a 5G’s panel. This display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 5.
As you can see, the difference is quite notable on paper, and it’s something you’ll notice in real life as well. The OnePlus 9’s display does look better in real life, not to mention that its high refresh rate does stand out. It will make scrolling extremely smooth, and it’s not even comparable when you use them side by side, the difference is clear. Truth be said, though, Google did a really nice job with animations in Android 11, so using the Pixel 5a 5G’s display is a joy, as long as you don’t mind its refresh rate.
Both panels do look good, though. The colors are vibrant on both, while the viewing angles are great. They both do get bright enough for outdoor use as well. The Pixel 5a 5G’s display pulls a bit to the warm side, while the OnePlus 9’s is the other way around, it’s a bit blueish when you compare them. That’s not something you’ll notice in regular usage, without holding them side by side. Besides, there are a ton of display settings on both, so you can fine-tune each display. They are both more than sharp enough.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Performance
The performance on both of these phones is excellent. It is worth noting that there are some differences, which is to be expected considering that they offer entirely different hardware. The Pixel 5a 5G is fueled by the Snapdragon 765G SoC, which is Qualcomm’s mid-range processor. The phone comes with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The OnePlus 9, on the flip side, is fueled by the Snapdragon 888, one of two Qualcomm’s flagship chips (at the moment). It includes 8GB / 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 flash storage.
The OnePlus 9 is definitely ahead in terms of internals, and you will notice that in performance. Not to say the Pixel 5a 5G is sluggish, quite the contrary. The phone offers excellent performance, but that’s to the added firepower of the OnePlus 9, and its high refresh rate display, it is able to open apps a bit sooner, and it will also seem a bit smoother. The difference is not that notable when it comes to regular tasks.
The OnePlus 9 does a better job of handling demanding games, though. That is to be expected considering its internals are considerably more powerful. Neither phone gets too hot while gaming, though the OnePlus 9 does get warmer, which is not surprising. The Snapdragon 888 is a considerably more powerful SoC than the Snapdragon 765G.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Battery
The Google Pixel 5a 5G comes with a 4,680mAh battery, while the OnePlus 9 offers a 4,500mAh battery. The Pixel 5a 5G does have a lower refresh rate, and an SoC that drains less battery. That, in comparison with Google’s software, makes this phone one of the best battery life smartphones on the market. We were able to cross the 8-hour screen-on-time mark without a problem, and we’ve seen cases where people went over 10 hours of screen-on-time with the device. The Pixel 5a 5G has excellent battery life, and that has to be said.
The OnePlus 9, in comparison, is not that great. In the general order of things, it offers good battery life, as you’ll be able to get at least 6 hours of screen-on-time with it, though that will depend on your usage. When we compare that with what the Pixel 5a 5G offers, it’s not impressive at all. The OnePlus 9 offers average battery life, though that will be good enough for most people.
The Pixel 5a 5G supports 18W wired charging, and that’s it. The phone does not support wireless charging, nor reverse (wireless) charging. The OnePlus 9, on the other hand, offers support for 65W fast wired charging, and also 15W wireless charging (European and North American models). Needless to say, the OnePlus 9 does offer more in the charging department.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Cameras
The Google Pixel 5a 5G includes two cameras on the back, while the OnePlus 9 has three. You’ll find a 12.2-megapixel main camera, and a 16-megapixel ultrawide camera on Google’s handset. The OnePlus 9 includes a 48-megapixel main camera, a 50-megapixel ultrawide unit, and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera. The images these two phones provide are considerably different.
The Pixel 5a 5G has the same sensor the Pixel 2 had, but it can still perform really well thanks to Google’s software. The phone does an excellent job with high dynamic range, while it can provide detailed, sharp images. It does a really good job in low light as well, it does throw a bit more noise your way, but on the flip side, it manages to light up the shadows and preserve a lot of detail.
The OnePlus 9 does a really good job, when it wants to. The phone can provide you with some excellent images, to say the least. Its ultrawide images are particularly impressive. It can do that in pretty much every scenario, but it’s not as consistent as the Pixel 5a 5G. At times, the phone will mess up an image really bad, for no reason. OnePlus did improve this camera a lot since launch, but it’s still not great. It’s worth noting that the OnePlus 9 camera does a great job with colors, they look excellent in images, especially the reds.
Both of these phones feature stereo speakers. The OnePlus 9’s are a bit better, though. They are louder, and seem to be a bit sharper as well. Both speaker setups are well-balanced, well, the audio coming from them is. The vocals are clear, while you can get some bass from both sets of speakers as well.
When it comes to the audio jack, only one of these two phones offers it, the Pixel 5a 5G. If that’s something you need, there you have it. You can always utilize Type-C headphones, a dongle, or simply use Bluetooth if you have wireless headphones. The OnePlus 9 does come with Bluetooth 5.2, while the Pixel 5a 5G has Bluetooth 5.0. That is something worth noting, as Bluetooth 5.2 does have its advantages.