This time around, we’re comparing the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5. The Pixel 5a 5G is Google’s latest smartphone. It is the company’s new mid-range offering, while the Pixel 5 was the most powerful handset Google released last year. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro flagships are coming this year, but they’re still not out. Those two phones are expected to arrive in the fall. The Pixel 5a 5G vs Pixel 5 comparison makes sense in more ways than one, even if we consider the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.
The Pixel 5 did not arrive with a flagship SoC. It shipped with the Snapdragon 765G, which is the same chip that fuels the Pixel 5a 5G. The two devices also have the same cameras, for example. They’re quite similar in many ways. The Pixel 6 series will be a considerable step away in both the design and spec departments. That being said, let’s compare the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5, shall we.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5: Design
When it comes to the design, these two phones are very similar. Let’s first talk about build materials. Both phones come with a metal unibody construction, though they’re covered in resin. Google improved the Pixel 4a 5G build materials compared to the Pixel 4a 5G, as it brought it much closer to the Pixel 5 than we thought it will. The two devices also look quite similar, as you can see.
They both have a display camera hole in the top-left corner, and flat displays. The Pixel 5 offers uniform bezels, while the Pixel 5a 5G’s bottom bezel is thicker than the rest of them. Their rear cameras sit in the same spot, in the top-left corner. They also look the same, which is not surprising considering that Google used the same cameras. A fingerprint scanner sits on the back of both phones as well.
The Pixel 5a 5G comes with a different power / lock key, as it’s textured, while the Pixel 5’s is completely smooth. The Pixel 5a 5G is taller, wider, and heavier than the Pixel 5. That’s not surprising considering that it comes with a larger display and battery. The phone is a bit thinner, though. It weighs 183 grams, compared to 151 grams of the Pixel 5. Both phones feel really nice in the hand, and are considerably less slippery than pretty much any glass-made phone.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5: Display
The Google Pixel 5a 5G features a 6.34-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED display. This panel does offer HDR support, and it’s a 60Hz display, so it doesn’t offer a high refresh rate. This display is flat, and it’s protected by the Gorilla Glass 3. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, delivers a 6-inch fullHD+ (2340 x 1080) OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It also supports HDR10+ content, unlike the Pixel 5a 5G. This display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 6, which is a considerable improvement to Gorilla Glass 3.
The Pixel 5’s display looks better on paper, that’s for sure. Is it better in real-life, though? Well, all things considered, yes. Once you use a high refresh rate display, getting back to a 60Hz one is kind of difficult. Truth be said, many people don’t really care, so if you’re one of them, then you can disregard that fact entirely. The Gorilla Glass 6 protection on the Pixel 5 is welcomed, as the Gorilla Glass 3 seems considerably easier to scratch up, based on my experience.
One thing worth saying is that neither phone offers a particularly bright display. We would prefer if they were brighter, as it can be a bit annoying when you’re in direct sunlight. In regards to colors, well, they both offer vivid colors, and really nice viewing angles. They are also more than sharp enough at fullHD+ resolution, there’s absolutely no reason why it should be higher, considering these display sizes.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5: Performance
The performance is pretty much identical between these two phones. That is not surprising at all considering they have very similar performance-related hardware. Both phones are equipped with the Snapdragon 765G SoC, while they also both come with UFS 2.1 flash storage, and LPDDR4X RAM. The Pixel 5 does offer a bit more RAM at 8GB compared to 6GB, but that’s not something you’ll feel directly in the performance department. You may notice that the Pixel 4a 5G may kill some of the apps in the background a bit more frequently, when it finds the need to free up RAM, but it’s only barely noticeable.
Both phones do a great job when it comes to everyday performance. No matter if we’re talking about multitasking, browsing, media consumption, taking pictures / videos, the performance is on point. They even do a good job when it comes to gaming. Granted, not as good of a job as a flagship smartphone would, especially with graphically-intensive titles, but they can run pretty much anything. They’ll also do a great job with most games, that’s for sure, even though they’re not exactly made for gaming.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5: Battery
The Pixel 5a 5G comes with a 4,680mAh battery, while the Pixel 5 has a 4,080mAh battery. The Pixel 5 was one of the most-praised devices last year when it comes to battery life. That trend continued into 2021 as well. It still offers excellent battery life, but the Pixel 5a 5G takes things to a whole new level. That is not surprising considering that it brings a boosted battery capacity, while decreasing refresh rate. Truth be said, it does have a slightly larger display, but that’s not something that will reflect on its battery life.
The Pixel 5a 5G is a true road warrior. This phone easily crossed the 7-hour screen-on-time mark, and it had plenty of juice left to go. The Pixel 5 was also able to cross that mark in our usage, but had considerably less juice left. Your mileage may vary, of course, but we’ve heard of situations where people managed to hit the 9-hour screen-on-time mark with the Pixel 5a 5G. Truth be said, that seems quite doable based on what we’ve seen. Both of these phones offer excellent battery life, to say the least.
That being said, they both offer 18W wired charging as well. That’s not the fastest chagrin around, not even close. Still, it does the job. The Pixel 5 also offers wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging, unlike the Pixel 5a 5G. You’re getting 12W wireless charging, and 5W reverse wireless charging with the device.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs Google Pixel 5: Cameras
The camera performance is, for the most part, identical on these two smartphones. That’s not surprising considering that Google decided to use the same sensors in both devices. Truth be said, the Pixel 5a 5G’s ultrawide camera offers a somewhat wider FoV, but that’s about the only difference here. The main camera sensor that is included here, a 12.2-megapixel one, is the same one Google has been using since the Pixel 2.
That camera sensor is showing its age at this point, but Google’s software magic still does a great job of concealing that. The two phones are truly capable in the camera department. They can take stunning photos, even in difficult HDR situations. The dynamic range is excellent on both phones, and they do a great job with sunsets as well. The ultra-wide camera also does a really good job.
When it comes to low light situations, they manage to shine as well. The noise is slightly higher than you’d expect, but you won’t even notice it. In return, you’re getting really well-lit photos, with plenty of details. Both phones are quite capable of pulling a lot of detail from the shadows, which is great for low light photography. They even offer a special astrophotography mode, in case you like taking pictures of stars and whatnot.
Now, no matter what spec sheet you read, chances are you’ll see that both of these phones have stereo speakers. That is true, however, the Pixel 5’s second speaker is placed under the display, and that’s not the most fortunate solution. That secondary speaker is considerably muted by the display, and thus the experience is not as stereo as it should be. The Pixel 5a 5G definitely wins the speaker comparison, although the Pixel 5 is not bad at all.
The Pixel 5a 5G includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the Pixel 5 does not. That is another advantage of the Pixel 5a 5G in the audio department. Truth be said, to many of you, the inclusion of an audio jack doesn’t mean much, but there are still some consumers out there that really prefer to have it, and that’s more than understandable. All in all, the Pixel 5a 5G has some advantages in the audio department.