a close up of the google pixel 5a home screen at a glance widget on the display

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Google launched its A-series a couple of years ago to offer users an affordable alternative to its expensive flagships. The Pixel 3a, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 4a 5G were all impressive devices, offering the right balance between price and features. The latest addition to the series, the Pixel 5a, doesn’t change the existing formula. But it does add a handful of new features and improves others to make for an even more compelling device in 2021. However, how big of an upgrade is it over its predecessor? Let’s find out in this Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 4a 5G comparison.

Our verdict: Google Pixel 5a review

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 4a 5G


  Google Pixel 5a Google Pixel 4a 5G
Display 6.34-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution
20:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
6.2-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass 3
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Storage 128GB 128GB
Power 4,680mAh
18W fast charging
No wireless charging
18W fast charging
No wireless charging
Cameras Main:
– 12.2MP dual-pixel
1.4μm pixel width
Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection
Optical + electronic image stabilization
ƒ/1.7 aperture
77-degree field of view

– 16MP ultra-wide
1.0μm pixel width
ƒ/2.2 aperture
117-degree field of view (107-degrees after distortion correction)

– 8MP
1.12μm pixel width
ƒ/2.0 aperture (fixed focus)
83-degree field of view

– 12.2MP dual-pixel
1.4 μm pixel width
Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection
Optical + electronic image stabilization
ƒ/1.7 aperture
77° field of view

– 16MP ultrawide
1.0 μm pixel width
ƒ/2.2 aperture
107° field of view

– 8MP sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm pixels, fixed focus, 83-degree field-of-view

Audio Stereo speakers
Headphone jack
Stereo speakers
Headphone jack
Biometrics Rear-mounted fingerprint reader Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
Software Android 11 Android 10 (Upgradeable to Android 11)
Dimensions and weight 156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8mm
153.9mm x 74mm x 8.2mm (8.5mm for mmWave variant)
168g (171g for mmWave variant)
Colors Mostly Black Just Black
Clearly white

Design and display

the google pixel 5a on a bench compared to the pixel 5 and pixel 4a 5g with back panels showing

Left to right: Google Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 4a 5G
Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

You’d be hard-pressed to differentiate between the Pixel 5a and the Pixel 4a 5G at first glance. Both come with a punch-hole tucked away at the top left corner. The design of the rear camera module and the cameras themselves are identical. You also get a rear-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner and a headphone jack with the two affordable Pixels.

See also: The best Google Pixel 5a cases you can get

The differences between them are barely noticeable. The Pixel 5a’s display is 0.1 inches bigger, and the phone is a touch thicker than the 4a 5G because of its larger battery.

It’s nearly impossible to differentiate between the two phones at first glance.

However, one big difference is immediately evident as soon as you pick up the two phones. The Pixel 5a comes with a metal unibody build that’s more premium than the plastic body of its predecessor. It also keeps the soft-touch coating from the Pixel 5 that adds to the grip. The Pixel 5a is also noticeably heavier than the 4a 5G because of its metal build.

the google pixel 5a on a bench with water splashed droplets

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 5a is the first of the line to come with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. It’s not something you’ll easily find in this price range and is definitely a welcome addition.

The display and viewing experience are identical across the board. Both phones come with Full HD+ displays with a 60Hz refresh rate and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The Pixel 5a’s screen is a little larger but not enough to make a significant difference. Both are solid OLED displays, and even though a higher refresh rate would have been nice, there’s not much else to complain about here.

Hardware and cameras

Google Pixel 4a 5G standard back image

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The similarities continue in the hardware section. Both phones are powered by the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. With the same hardware and identical software experience, there shouldn’t be a huge difference in performance. That said, the Pixel 5a soundly beat the 4a 5G in our testing and matched the Pixel 5.

The battery is the only major upgrade in terms of hardware. Google packs a much larger 4,680mAh battery into the Pixel 5a, compared to the 3,880mAh unit of the 4a 5G. In our review, we were quite impressed with the Pixel 4a 5G’s six hours of screen-on time, but the 5a has it soundly beat. Our very own Jimmy Westenberg managed to get more than eight hours of screen-on time with fairly heavy usage and ended most days with close to 60% of battery left.

Another hardware difference is in 5G support. The Google Pixel 5a will only work with sub-6GHz networks, while you can get a version of the 4a 5G that supports mmWave networks. The limited scale of mmWave makes it hard to take seriously, so this omission might not be a huge deal.

the google pixel 5a camera module and fingerprint sensor

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Moving on to the cameras, we get identical hardware once again. Both phones come with a 12.2MP primary shooter and a 16MP ultra-wide lens, along with an 8MP selfie camera. Nothing has really changed as far as the camera performance goes. You’ll get excellent photos with both, and they are still among the best smartphone cameras around. The whole thing is getting a little dated though, so I’m excited to see something new with the upcoming Pixel 6 series.

Price and colors

  • Google Pixel 5a: $449
  • Google Pixel 4a 5G: $499 / €499 / £499

The Google Pixel 5a went up for pre-order on August 17. If you pre-order the phone, you should get it in your hands by August 26, which is when general sales also start. Given the general similarities and extras like an IP rating, it’s surprising to see that the Pixel 5a is $50 cheaper than the 4a 5G.

The 5a is available in Mostly Black, which almost looks green in the right lighting. You get two options with the Pixel 4a 5G — Clearly White and Just Black. However, the 4a 5G is hard to come by right now. It’s out of stock on the Google Store, and only the Clearly White version is available on Amazon.

Google Pixel 5a
Water resistance comes to the Pixel A-series
Google’s Pixel 5a offers a few quality-of-life upgrades over its previous devices that may make you want to join Team Pixel. It has a metal unibody design, an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, and a battery that just won’t quit.

Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 4a 5G: Which should you buy?

the google pixel 5a camera app showing flowers

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

If you already have the Pixel 4a 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the 5a. Yes, it comes with a few useful extras, but it’s basically the same phone at its core. You won’t see a huge difference in performance, the camera performance is identical, you get the same software experience, and they even look the same. This is as iterative an update as it gets. So unless something like water resistance is an absolute must-have, the 4a 5G is definitely good enough.

This is as iterative an update as it gets.

However, if you’re undecided between the two, the choice is obvious. While both phones are identical in terms of hardware, the Pixel 5a comes with a more premium build, dust and water resistance, and a larger battery. It’s also cheaper. Availability might be an issue, though. The 5a is only launching in the US and Japan, while you can get the 4a 5G in a handful of European markets as well.