(Pocket-lint) – Google revealed the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G in September 2020, joining the Pixel 4a that was announced earlier in the year. With three Pixel models to choose from – and all launching in a pretty narrow window of 2020, just how do these phones compare against each other?
This is how the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G stack up against the Pixel 4a to help you work out which 2020 Pixel might be right for you.
- Pixel 5: $699 | £599
- Pixel 4a 5G: $499 | £499
- Pixel 4a: $349 | £349
There’s a wide range of price differences between these models, with the Pixel 4a, the smallest and lowest in power, coming in at the cheapest price.
The Pixel 4a 5G steps up both in size and price, while the Pixel 5 is the most expensive model, but is smaller than the Pixel 4a 5G.
- Pixel 5: 144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm, 151g
- Pixel 4a 5G: 153.9 x 74 x 8.2mm, 168g
- Pixel 4a: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm, 143g
All the 2020 Pixel devices have a similar design, with punch hole cameras for notch-free display, a square camera housing on the back as well as a fingerprint scanner.
The Google Pixel 5 features a brushed aluminium body, comes in Just Black and Sorta Sage colour options, although the metal body is coated, so it’s a matte finish and it doens’t feel like metal, even if, ultimately, it might be stronger than the other models. The Pixel 5 is smaller than the Pixel 4a 5G and it offers IP68 water and dust resistance, which neither the Pixel 4a or Pixel 4a 5G have.
The Pixel 4a and the Pixel 4a 5G have a polycarbonate rear with the same overall feel to them. They are both matte again and although it’s a plastic rear, it doesn’t feel cheap. Both come in Just Black only and have a 3.5mm headphone jack which the Pixel 5 doesn’t.
All the phones have stereo speakers, but the Pixel 5 hides the ear speaker in the bezel making for muffled results – the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G both have better sounding speakers, and clearer call audio too.
Overall, the Pixel 4a is the smallest, then the Pixel 5, with the Pixel 4a 5G being the largest.
- Pixel 5: 6-inch, OLED, 90Hz
- Pixel 4a 5G: 6.2-inch, OLED, 60Hz
- Pixel 4a: 5.81-inch, OLED, 60Hz
The Pixel 5 has a 6-inch OLED display and unlike previous years, there is only one device rather than a standard and XL model. The resolution is 2340 x 1080 pixels, 432ppi, it has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and offers support for HDR. It is also has a 90Hz refresh rate.
The Pixel 4a 5G has a 6.2-inch display, also OLED, but with a 60Hz refresh rate. The resolution is 2340 x 1080 pixels, 413ppi. The Pixel 4a meanwhile, has a 5.81-inch display with a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, offering 443ppi. It is also OLED and it has a standard 60Hz refresh rate, as well as support for HDR, so all these devices have a similar display – apart from the refresh rate.
The big differences here are obviously the size: the Pixel 4a 5G is the largest, so the best for media and gaming because you get a lot more space. But the Pixel 5 is the only model with a faster refresh rate. Side-by-side you can see the smoother scrolling through things like lists, but in many cases, the faster refresh rate isn’t a huge deal breaker. We’d take the larger display because we think it offers a better experience for modern phone use – but you can literally pick the size you prefer, because the visual quality of all these devices is pretty much the same.
- Pixel 5: Qualcomm SD765G, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, 4000mAh
- Pixel 4a 5G: Qualcomm SD765G, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3800mAh
- Pixel 4a: Qualcomm SD730, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3140mAh
The Google Pixel 5 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, which features integrated 5G. The Pixel 4a 5G also runs on the same platform, while the Pixel 4a runs on the slightly lower-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 730. That means the Pixel 4a is 4G only, and it doesn’t quite have the performance of the other two devices.
In terms of performance and experience, the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G essentially offer the same great snappy response. The Pixel 5 has 8GB of RAM, while the Pixel 4a 5G 6GB of RAM, but that’s not something you notice in day-to-day use. In reality, there’s very little difference – the Pixel 4a 5G is cheaper, so pound for pound, it has the edge over the Pixel 5.
The Pixel 4a isn’t far off, however. It’s a lot cheaper and uses lower grade hardware, so it’s not as fast or capable and you will notice a slight difference in more demanding apps, but it’s not that far behind.
Where the the Pixel 5 come into its own is with the 4000mAh battery capacity, which is good to see you through the day with no worries. That said, the lower power Pixel 4a has a 3140mAh battery and copes equally well, while the Pixel 4a 5G has a 3800mAh battery that’s also very capable and offers great performance.
- Pixel 5: 16MP + 12.2MP, 8MP
- Pixel 4a 5G: 16MP + 12.2MP, 8MP
- Pixel 4a: 12.2MP, 8MP
The Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G come with a dual rear camera, comprised of the main 12.2-megapixel, 1.4µm, with an f/1.7 aperture and an ultra-wide 16-megapixel with an f/2.2 aperture. Their front camera is 8-megapixels with an f/2.0 aperture. The Pixel 4a has the same main sensor and selfie camera, but misses out on the ultra-wide option.
At their core, all these cameras are great. The Pixel 4a offers huge performance for the price and if you want a compact phone with great photography power, then the Pixel 4a will meet that need for you. It’s the best in its price bracket.
The other two models expand on the experience with the ultra-wide lens and the performance between those cameras is identical: effectively, the Pixel 4a 5G offers better value for money in this regard, as the only feature you don’t get is audio zoom in video, compared to the Pixel 5.
The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 also offer some great video stabilisation features.
Overall, however, there’s very little between these phones, because the main cameras are basically the same and the supporting software is the same.
There are differences between these devices, with the Pixel 4a obviously being much cheaper. If you’re after an inexpensive device that offers great camera performance in a package that’s pretty similar, then the Pixel 4a has appeal: it’s a great phone at an affordable price – 5G is the biggest omission.
The Pixel 5 is a more premium affair, with a more substantial build and premium features, like IP68 waterproofing and wireless charging, enhancing the experience with a great display and battery performance. It’s a great device overall, with the only real downsides being the speaker performance and the elevated price.
The Pixel 4a 5G is more like the Pixel 5 than it is the Pixel 4a, with the same excellent camera performance, but in a device with a larger display, at a cheaper price. The Pixel 4a 5G misses out on some of the premium features of the Pixel 5, but could be the better choice for many. For us, the Google Pixel 4a 5G is easily the best option.
Writing by Britta O’Boyle.