One month after the announcement, the Google Pixel 5 is now available for purchase and the Pixel 4a (5G) can be preordered. That latter handset will arrive in about three weeks.
“[The] Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 pack more helpful Google features into phones backed by the power and speeds of 5G,” Google’s original announcement post from late September reads. “From Google’s latest AI and Assistant features, to the biggest ever batteries we’ve put in a Pixel, to industry-leading camera features, Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 join our much-loved Pixel 4a in providing more help at a more helpful price.”
How does one even begin to explain these handsets?
Despite the names, these new handsets, plus the Pixel 4a that Google released back in August can be considered part of the same product family. Each comes in at a lower price point than Google’s previous-generation handsets, and none can be considered a true flagship. Instead, Google is trying to meet its customers’ most important needs at lower price points.
The Pixel 4a (5G)—sometimes called the Pixel 4a with 5G—and the Pixel 5 both include the same basic innards, with mid-tier octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processors and Adreno 620 graphics, a step up from the lower-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G and Adreno 618 in the Pixel 4a. Both include 128 GB of non-expandable storage, the Titan M security chipset, and rear-mounted Pixel Imprint fingerprint readers. Most important, both new handsets have the same dual-camera setup, with a 12.2 MP main wide lens and a 16 MP ultra-wide lens; the original Pixel 4a only has the single 12.2 MP main wide lens.
But the two handsets diverge in some interesting and curious ways, too. The Pixel 4a (5G) includes 6 GB of RAM, like the Pixel 4a, but the Pixel 5 provides 8 GB of RAM. The Pixel 4a (5G) comes only in a black polycarbonate body, like the Pixel 4a, but the Pixel 5 has a unique 100% recycled aluminum body with a rough resin exterior, in two color choices, and unlike the other handsets, it supports wireless charging and Battery Share, which is reverse wireless charging.
The weirdest difference, perhaps, is the display size used by each handset. Where the low-end Pixel 4a provides a tiny 5.8-inch Full HD+ OLED display with HDR, the new Pixel 5 has a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED display with HDR, and the Pixel 4a (5G) has an even larger—but not Pixel XL class—6.2-inch Full HD+ OLED display with HDR. The Pixel 4a and 4a (5G) have older Gorilla Glass 3 protection, but the Pixel 5 brings more modern Gorilla Glass 6.
The Pixel 4a (5G) costs $499 and can be had in black, and when you consider that the original Pixel 4a costs $350, it’s almost a reasonable upgrade. But the Pixel 5 costs $699 and can be had in either black or “Sorta Sage,” a unique green color. This is far too much for this handset: $599 would be a lot more reasonable given its mid-level specs and that far superior handsets—like the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, the OnePlus 8T, and the iPhone 12—can be had for the same price or just a bit more.
I previously wrote that I was giving up on Pixel this year for the first time, and I still can’t wrap my head around the Pixel 5. But I’ve decided to preorder a Pixel 4 (5G) and trade-in my Pixel 4 XL, and I will review it when it arrives late next month.