Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: What's different? - PhoneArena

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: What's different?

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We have previously explored the often tiny differences between the Pixel 5a vs Pixel 4a 5G, and with this article, we will discuss how the new budget Pixel 5a compares against its higher-end sibling, the Pixel 5. Does the Pixel 5a actually deliver the same level of camera quality and performance we see in the Pixel 5? And how is the Pixel 5a actually different from the Pixel 5? And finally, which one of the two should you buy?

The budget Pixel 5a puts the focus on a larger battery and overall bigger form factor, plus it adds water resistance, while the Pixel 5 remains the more compact option with a slightly more premium feel.

So read on to find out the key differences between these two phones in terms of design, specs, performance, camera, and battery life. 

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Without further ado, let’s dive in!
 
Google Pixel 5a
8.9

Google Pixel 5a


The Good

  • Big battery can last you 2 days between charges
  • Clean software
  • 3 years of software updates (updates arrive right after release too)
  • Excellent camera
  • Affordable price

The Bad

  • Annoying camera bugs
  • 60Hz screen, no fast refresh rate
  • Same Snapdragon 765G chip as last year, slower than some rivals
  • Boring design
  • No expandable storage, No wireless charging (if you care)
  • Only available in US and Japan, in the US you cannot purchase it at a carrier
 
Google Pixel 5
8.7

Google Pixel 5


The Good

  • Lightweight, elegant design
  • Crisp, bright display
  • Versatile camera & excellent photos
  • Great battery life with wireless charging + power share
  • Clean, fast software

The Bad

  • Midrange chipset on a flagship
  • No optical zoom
  • The Pixel 4a (5G) does most of this for $200 less
 

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: design and display



  • 6.34-inch vs 6.0-inch
  • 60Hz refresh rate on the Pixel 5a, 90Hz for the Pixel 5

In the design department, the major difference between the Pixel 5a and the Pixel 5 is the size. The Pixel 5 rocks a 6.0-inch display and is a compact phone by every modern definition of the word, while the Pixel 5a grows to a 6.34-inch display, and has added some bulk so it definitely does not seem petite (it's not quite a gigantic phone either, though).

Google Pixel 5
Dimensions

5.7 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches

144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm

Weight

5.33 oz (151 g)

Google Pixel 5a
Dimensions

6.15 x 2.88 x 0.35 inches

156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.46 oz (183 g)

Google Pixel 5
Dimensions

5.7 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches

144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm

Weight

5.33 oz (151 g)

Google Pixel 5a
Dimensions

6.15 x 2.88 x 0.35 inches

156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.46 oz (183 g)

See the full Google Pixel 5 vs Google Pixel 5a size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

From afar, the two phones look quite similar in terms, with a minimalist design typical for Google Pixel phones. However, once you actually touch and use them, you would notice the more premium feel of the Pixel 5 which has this nice texture to it, while the 5a has a more simplistic finish that almost seems like plastic. It's actually not: both phones are made of metal covered in a fancy bioresin material that kind of hides that cold metal feel.

In terms of material, the Pixel 5, rocks a metal build with a tiny cutout, invisible to the eye, on the back, that allows the phone to charge wirelessly despite its metal body. The Pixel 5a also rocks a metal unibody, but does not support wireless charging, plus it's worth noting that both phones are water sealed: you get an IP68 rating for the Pixel 5 and a slightly lower IP67 rating for the 5a. This slight difference probably isn't too important to most people and the IP68 number only means that the Pixel 5 can be submerged in slightly deeper water for a bit longer.

As for the displays, both phones have OLED displays with 1080p Full HD resolutions. That alone assures a great viewing experience on both phones, with a crisp image. The important thing to difference here is that the Pixel 5 rocks a 90Hz display refresh rate for smoother scrolling. As for the Pixel 5a, it only runs at 60Hz, so it does look a bit choppy in use.

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: hardware and performance



Well, comparing these two phones’ hardware and performance is an easy task as both phones sport the Snapdragon 765G. Basically, with the same processor, their performance is identical.

Here's some benchmarks detailing how the Snapdragon 765G performs. You can use the tool below to put in a phone you want to compare it with:

AnTuTu is a multi-layered, comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device, including CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, and UX performance. A higher score means an overall faster device.
Higher is better
Google Pixel 5a
378782
Google Pixel 5
291663

We should point out that both phones will give us an overall snappy and responsive performance, powered by the clean, stock Android Pixel phones come with. The Pixel 5 has 8GB of RAM, while the Pixel 5a comes with 6GB of RAM, both of which quite sufficient for everyday usage. Overall, everyday performance on both phones should be excellent. That being said, for gamers, these two phones may not be the best option as both processors score a lot lower than the flagships in graphics processing.

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: cameras

  • 12.2 MP main, 16MP ultrawide, 8MP selfie


We all know camera performance and photo quality is a place with a lot of competition, where Google manages to keep its position among the best, thanks to its excellent AI-powered image processing. The Pixel 5 comes with an unassuming 12.2MP main sensor and a 16MP ultrawide camera, but the photos it produces are close to perfect. The Pixel 5 delivers sharp details, realistic colors, and excellent dynamic range.

The Pixel 5a has the same camera as the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5, at least in terms of specs, meaning a 12.2MP main cam and a 16MP ultrawide sensor. Well, even without testing the Pixel 5a to test just yet, we can safely say that photos will turn out to be at least as good as the Pixel 4a 5G’s. This means the phone won’t struggle in difficult lighting situations and should give us gorgeous-looking, realistic and detailed photos.

One area that both phones will have a harder time matching the competition is the zoom: neither of them has any telephoto lens and the maximum zoom level both can go is 7x.

As for selfies, the Pixel 5a comes with the same 8MP selfie cam that the Pixel 5 rocks. Luckily, Google’s image processing software does wonders in the selfie department as well.



Apart from some tiny differences, it really seems like the cameras on the Pixel 5a and the Pixel 5 are identical.


On this second shot, you notice the color reproduction and dynamic range are pretty much the same on both phones.


There is a slight difference in the selfies between the two, but that's probably because I moved a bit between these two shots.



And in low light you can again see that the differences are so minuscule that you can attribute them to the slightly different composition between the shots. These are really practically identical cameras that give you about the same photo quality no matter the conditions.

Portrait Mode



Both phones also support portrait mode that blurs the background. Pixel phones apply the effect after you've captured the photo, so you cannot see it in your viewfinder, and that applies to both these phones. The 5a and 5 again do a very similar job and you'd be hard pressed to find any differences between these cameras.

Video Quality



We were really curiously to see if the Pixel 5a has introduced something new and probably better than the Pixel 5, but it seems that these two phones are pretty much identical in their video recording capabilities. You get 4K60 and 4K30, as well as a 1080p recording option on both.

At 4K resolution, you get identical colors, great stabilization on both and very good dynamic range. Take a loot at the sample video above, shot on both phones at the same time, to get an idea about the video quality.

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: battery life



The Pixel 5 comes with a 4,000mAh battery cell, which is an upgrade over the previous Google Pixel flagships and comfortably lasts up to a day and a half with moderate usage. Light users may even get up to 48h on one single charge, which is pretty admirable. On the other hand, the Pixel 5a comes with the biggest battery on a Pixel phone yet: the generous 4,860mAh. This means the phone will comfortably last for a day and have some more juice, and if you are not pushing it, we can see the 5a being a 2-day phone. Truly impressive.

To give you an idea, here’s how the Pixel 5 fared against the competition in our independent battery tests, it really takes things up a notch with battery life and is out there with the best battery performers of 2021.

hours Higher is better
Google Pixel 5a
15h 6 min
Google Pixel 5
12h 40 min

The Pixel 5a supports the same wired charging speeds as the Pixel 5: 18W fast charging. However, the Pixel 5 also sports wireless charging, a convenience that the Pixel 5a lacks.

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5: price and availability

  • $700 vs $450

The Pixel 5a comes in one configuration with 128GB at $450. However, it is available only in the US and Japan, and that might be the biggest disappointment around it. The Pixel 5 is definitely the more expensive of the two: it launched at $700, but you can often find deals that discount it a bit so the price difference is actually not quite as steep. Also, the Pixel 5 is available globally, unlike the 5a.

Conclusion


The Pixel 5a is no longer the cute compact phone such as Pixels of last year. It's bigger and bulkier, but it's also got a mightier battery that can often get you through 2 days on a single charge. If that's a priority, you'd enjoy it a lot, despite its shortcomings like the missing fast refresh rate option and the uninspiring design. But if you want a compact phone, well this new budget Pixel is not it, and the Pixel 5 still seems more than adequate, especially if you can find a good deal.

We'd say both have about the same camera quality, same software, and even same performance, so those aren't really something that should affect your decision.

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