Google Pixel 4a 5G cameras and 5G offer better value than the Pixel 5

Pixel 4a 5G
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Pixel 4a launched back in August after a long delay, and just a few months later a new version has launched - alongside the Google Pixel 5 - that can connect to the high-speed 5G networks – meet the Google Pixel 4a 5G.

While the Pixel 4a 5G costs a bit more than its 4G LTE-only predecessor, it comes with some upgrades, stepping up from a Snapdragon 730G to a Snapdragon 765G chipset and adding a second rear camera (ultrawide). The 4a 5G's 6.2-inch OLED display is larger than the 5.8-inch screen on the original 4a, too, and a massive 3,800mAh battery compared to the 4a's 3,140mAh capacity.

The new phone also packs 6GB of RAM and the just-released Android 11 out of the box. It will keep its predecessor's 128GB of storage.

Those handful of upgrades make the price bump from the standard Pixel 4a’s $349 / £349 / AU$599 cost to the Pixel 4a 5G’s $499 / £499 / AU$799 price tag easier to bear. 

Getting the Pixel 4a 5G is another headache, though: in the UK, it's going on sale on November 19 on the Google Store. The standard version with sub-6 5G connectivity will be available in the US on November 19, per Android Police, but the mmWave 5G version will go on sale from Verizon a bit earlier on October 29 – though it will cost $599 instead. 

(Image credit: Google)

So with the Pixel 4a 5G, why buy a Pixel 5?

So with the spec upgrades and 5G connectivity on the Pixel 4a 5G, the question becomes: why pick the Google Pixel 5, which costs more at $699 / £599 / AU$999?

The Pixel 5 has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset, dual rear camera (12.2MP f/1.7 main and 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide), and Android 11 out of the box. 

But the pricier phone packs a smaller 6-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate with the leading Gorilla Glass 6, compared to the Pixel 4a 5G’s 6.2-inch screen with 60Hz refresh rate and Gorilla Glass 3. It has a bit more RAM (8GB) and battery (4,000mAh), too.

Clearly, there are tradeoffs to opting for the cheaper Pixel 4a 5G over its pricier Pixel 5 sibling. But given Google’s phones receive Android upgrades at the same time, it’s tough to argue for the more expensive model given how largely comparable both phones are.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.