Pixel 5a: Google's flagship killer might kill the Pixel 6 instead

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google Pixel 5A is a Pixel 6 for the masses
By the looks of it, we are getting a new phone by Google way sooner than expected! No, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro aren’t going to be released ahead of schedule, but the long-anticipated Google Pixel 5A is expected to become official in less than three weeks now!

Thanks to Jon Prosser - leakster and tech-joker in charge, we know that the Google Pixel 5a is expected to become a reality on August 26th. Without keeping you on your toes, let’s jump straight to the specs of the upcoming budget Google device (according to Prosser), and then see why it might be the best Pixel for you if it’s… available where you live.

Google Pixel 5A specs: Kinda Big, Mostly Black, Definitely Water-resistant

Side note: I insist while reading you put the emphasis on the third syllable of “resis(tant)”, so my rhyme works out. Thanks!

  • Color: Mostly Black
  • Display: 6.4-inch, 60Hz – forced 90Hz (we assume this means a 90Hz variable refresh rate for saving battery life)
  • Processor: Snapdragon 765G
  • Battery: 4650mAh
  • Wireless charging: No
  • RAM: 6GB
  • IP67 water and dust-resistant

Google Pixel 5A: If Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5 had a baby

If you’re familiar with Google’s existing lineup of phones, you’ll know that although the Pixel 5A is indeed a new device, it isn’t exactly anything new:

As you can see, the Pixel 5A is a phone that has:

  • The biggest screen across the lineup (until the Pixel 6 Pro comes out)
  • The biggest battery across the lineup (as of now)

Apart from that, it’s basically a fusion of the Pixel 4A (5G) and the Pixel 5. Interestingly, you lose the metal-ish body of the Pixel 5, but you gain a headphone jack. Then, the Pixel 4A (5G) is more compact, but you gain water resistance and a 90Hz screen with the 5A. So, really, at just $50 more, if we compare it to the 4A (5G), it’s a win for the 5A. You should buy one! Oh, wait…

Google Pixel 5A availability: New Pixel, but same old Google

You know what’s the best reason not to buy a phone? Well, if it’s not available to buy. As you might already know, you won’t be able to buy a Pixel 5A unless you are in the US or Japan. We understand Google’s decision to launch the Pixel 5A in the US, but Japan?!

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Japan’s smartphone market situation is firmly under Apple’s control. According to recent data, Tim Cook and company hold over 50% (!!!) of Japan’s smartphone market, followed by Sharp, Kyocera, Samsung, and Sony.

Even Samsung and home-grown Sony are struggling to stay relevant in this market. But, fine… Let’s assume Google believes it’s worth a shot. Why only Japan? What about Europe? South America? Other parts of Asia?

The availability situation over at Google has never been exactly amazing, as the Pixel 5 launched in nine countries. The Pixel 6 series is initially expected to launch in only eight countries, and previous devices have a similarly poor track record in that regard.

Google Pixel 5A: Party in the USA… and Tokyo

If you are based in the US (hello!) or Japan (arigato!), then I guess this paragraph is for you...

Since the long-anticipated Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro are expected to match the iPhone 13 series when it comes to price (our wild guess is $799 for the Pixel 6 and $999 for the 6 Pro), the Pixel 5A might be the closest thing you can get to a Pixel 6, at a fraction of the price.

As you can see, you aren’t getting the new custom-built Tensor SoC, a 4x periscope zoom camera, or wireless charging on the Pixel 5A. Respectively, we also don’t expect the Pixel 5A to receive the “five years of software updates” that the Pixel 6 is said to get. On the Pixel 6, that would likely be made possible thanks to Tensor and the fact that it’s tightly integrated with Google’s software, which is less true for the Snapdragon-powered 5A.

However, at its core, the Google Pixel 5A will carry the some of the Pixel 6 identity - Android 12 and Google’s photo processing (probably not Google’s upcoming video processing, which Tensor powers). Apart from that, it simply looks like a great all-around device that happens to run pure Android and will take photos with “that Pixel look”.

It even raises the question: "Is Google trying to kill its own flagship Pixel 6?!". The Pixel 6 promises a new era of the Google flagship experience thanks to Tensor. However, it's going to be an expensive phone, which will share quite a few things with the Pixel 5A that's expected to cost half as much...

In the end...

We are confused...

  1. We are confused about why Google decides to launch a phone that’s pretty similar to the Pixel 5, instead of just lower its price with the launch of the Pixel 6 (you know - like Apple does every year).
  2. We are confused with Google’s decision to launch the Pixel 5A in only two markets (and again - why Japan?).
  3. We are confused about whether Google makes phones to sell or to… show off?!

However, if you happen to live in the US or Japan, you’ll definitely have one more great option to consider in case you can’t afford the upcoming Pixel 6 or in case you just want a great mid-range device. If you live elsewhere… Better luck next time.

There's a chance Google might eventually start selling the Pixel 5A in more regions of the world, but we wouldn't bet on that.

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