The Google Pixel 5a Leaks

Posted on August 6, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 14 Comments

Image source: Jon Prosser

Reliable leaker Jon Prosser says that Google will launch the Pixel 5a this month and will charge just $450 for the mid-range handset. But with the device’s look, feel, and specifications closely matching those of 2021’s Pixel 4a 5G, and with Google having already (pre-) announced its flagship-class Pixel 6 family, some are rightfully wondering what’s the point.

I think I can finally answer that latter question. But let’s get to the leak first.

According to Prosser, Google will launch a Pixel 5a on Thursday, August 26, but it will do so only in the United States and Japan, in what I assume are Pixel’s best markets, and it will only be available for purchase online (or via Google’s one retail store), severely limiting its availability. The Pixel 5a will cost $450 and come in a single configuration with a Mostly Black exterior, a 6.4-inch display with 60 and 90 Hz modes, a Snapdragon 765G processor, 6 GB of RAM, and a 4650 mAh battery. It will not support wireless charging.

Looking at the leaked images of this handset, anyone familiar with the Pixel family of products will see something that looks identical to the Pixel 4a 5G, which has nearly identical specifications and was released late last year. And if you’ve visited the Google Store online recently, you may have noticed that the Pixel 4a 5G, not surprisingly, is no longer available for sale. Google is clearing the deck for the Pixel 5a.

But again. What’s the point?

I think the point is twofold. First, Google’s only real success in the smartphone market has come thanks to two low-end handsets, the Pixel 3a family from early 2019 and the Pixel 4a from August 2020. So the Pixel 5a is a way to continue to serve that part of the market while Google tries once again to woo away iPhone and Galaxy customers with its high-end Pixel 6 series this fall.

Second, the Pixel 4a 5G is so close to perfect for this market that aping its design again this year makes sense. And while many of the components in the Pixel 5a are identical to those in its predecessor, most likely as a cost-saving measure, some are not. For example, the Pixel 5a will reportedly have a 6.4-inch display, where the Pixel 4a 5G has a smaller 6.2-inch display that I observed was as close as we were going to get to a Pixel XL model last year. This year, the Pixel 5a is literally just an XL model. Also, the Pixel 5a’s display will support both 60 Hz and 90 Hz modes, a feature that was only available in the more expensive ($700) Pixel 5 last year. Making that technology available at $450 is an incredible value.

Indeed, the two display improvements—the larger display panel and the 90 Hz mode—totally justify replacing the Pixel 4a 5G with the Pixel 5a. And who can argue with that price? The Pixel 4a 5G cost $500, after all, and it’s not as capable.

With the Pixel 6a family on the way, I won’t be replacing my Pixel 4a 5G with a Pixel 5a. But anyone currently using a Pixel 4a, 3a, 3a XL, or older (and higher-end) Pixel handset should at least consider doing so. This is turning into a curiously good year for Pixel fans.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “The Google Pixel 5a Leaks”

  1. cnc123

    Pixel 3a user here. I realize the market doesn't agree with me at all, but this device is too big. I'm considering a move to an iPhone anyway, which solves that issue.

    • Daishi

      The market sucks.

      Almost literally every phone available today is too big. The, possibly only, exception being the soon to be canceled iPhone 12 mini. When that goes as well I might just have to double down on using a cellular smart watch so that I don’t have to carry around one of the hulking monstrosities the market loves so much.

    • fuller1754

      I got tired of big phones and switched to an iPhone SE. I hated it. After six months, I was able to pass it too my wife, who was overdue for a new phone and already familiar with the UI on her iPod. Bottom line: iPhone was intolerable for me, so proceed with caution. I'm back on Android and life is good again.

  2. rmlounsbury

    I'm on a Pixel 4 at the moment. If it weren't for atrocious battery life I'd stick with it. But, I will definitely make the leap to the 5a at that price.

    I'd love to get a 6 but a $999 or higher price is not on the cards.

    I briefly had a 4a which was a solid device. But wanted to keep the dual camera in the 4. The 5a is perfect.

    • sekim

      I am using a Pixel 4 right now as well. I'm not in the immediate market for a new phone, but I'd be more apt to go for the 5a at this point than a 6.

  3. Pierre Masse

    Why dont they call it 6a? I hate that kind of nonsense.

    • ArvindV

      why is a name pissing you off? so you want to skip an incremental number 5a and name a device that is the next version of 4a and call it 6a? and you think going incremental is nonsense? that's some kind of mental issue you have there

  4. crunchyfrog

    Phones are almost getting comically big these days and the cheaper phones are some of the biggest. The Pixel 4a was and still is the ideal sized phone and so was the iPhone 11 Pro. Both were approximately 5.8" in screen size and fits very comfortably in the average hand and more importantly, in one's pocket.

    Myself, I have reversed the trend of going for large phones and now seek the smallest I possibly can which has proven to be a very narrow field to choose from. This phone is too big and the Pixel 6 lineup is even larger. If we all had hands the size of Shaquille O'Neal, this would not be a problem. I just want to carry a Smartphone in my pocket, not a tablet.

    • thewarragulman

      I agree with this, the iPhone 11 Pro was the perfect size, I currently use an iPhone X which is identical in terms of form factor but with older specs and it's great, and I loved the Pixel 4a for being basically the same size, kind of a shame the 5a will be gigantic and not available in markets that aren't the US or Japan, as an Australian this does annoy me as I won't be able to buy it directly.

  5. ghostrider

    I had a 3a and now have a 4a - both brilliant value handsets and good enough for most requirements. I still love my 4a, which is been extremely reliable, so the 5a is going to have to be immense to get me to move up. I'll probably wait to see what the 6 offers (and the price obviously) first. I refuse to get drawn into the stupidly expensive premium phone market - anyone paying >=£/$1000 for handset (any vendor) is D.U.M.B.

    • rmlounsbury

      The only difference between the 4a and 5a is going to be getting the dual-camera module, 5G, and larger screen/battery. It's the same SoC that as in the 4a 5G so you won't get a performance bump.

      I am curious if the 6.4" bit is accurate. If it's just a re-release of the 4a 5G that was a 6.2" screen. But, given the 4650mah battery vs. the 3885 in the 4a 5G it probably does mean there is a large screen which gives it more space to add a larger battery.

  6. fuller1754

    I'm a happy owner of a Pixel 4a right now. I'm not a huge fan of Google, but I have to admit, I love this phone. It's one of the rare phones that's not ridiculously oversized, and it works great and has a gorgeous LED panel. Dump the built in Pixel launcher for Microsoft Launcher or Niagara launcher (my current pick) and you're golden. I hope the 5a continues the legacy. Not all of us are so enamored with phones that we need one the size of a cutting board that costs two weeks' wages.

  7. jlmerrill

    As long as it is not as heavy as an iPhone ProMax.

  8. cslepage

    Will the Pixel 5a be able to use wifi 6?