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Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 5: Will You Be Downgrading?

author Luis Silva (November 2020 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The Pixel 5 isn't that affordable, but it also is the better device of the two considering their specs.

It comes with better glass protection, a better display, water-resistance, and better battery life.

What else stands out?

The Pixel 5 also has a higher refresh rate, larger (+0.2") display, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and more RAM (8GB vs. 6GB). But the Pixel 4a features a headphone jack.

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, you'll have to spend approximately $332 more.

Is the Pixel 4a still worth buying in 2021?

The Google Pixel 4a is clearly worth buying in 2021, even if there are better phones out there. Sure, you can take a peek at other devices like the Samsung Galaxy S10e, but this one does hold a good cameras and tons of storage.

Is the Pixel 5 still worth buying in 2021?

Of course, I still recommend the Pixel 5 in 2021. You'll love it for its good cameras, good battery life, and excellent glass protection. But if you've been dreaming about other phones, the Apple iPhone 12 should also be one of them.

Keep reading to learn more about what sets them apart, how they fare against their competition, and you'll know what the industry thinks about their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Google Pixel 4a, Google Pixel 5

Photo by themodernuprising on Unsplash

CONTENTS

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Introduction

So, suddenly Google decided that its Pixel 5 wouldn't be a high-end device. Still, they were planning on releasing the Pixel 4a also as a mid-range?

This isn't about performance, so what does the Pixel 5 has to offer to convince you that's a better choice?

That's what we're about to find out.

Google introduced its Pixel 5 model in October 2020. Meanwhile, Google's Pixel 4a started to sell in August 2020.

Here you can look at the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 5, compare each other's features, and decide which one is best for you. Let us delve into the finer details.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Release Date 2020, August 2020, October 0y.
OS Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.
Security Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

Performance isn't a contest between these two, says Geekbench 5. On daily usage, you wouldn't be able to notice any relevant differences between them.

You should also check other devices if you value a snappier device. These are just too slow if you consider their rivals.

By the way, you can define both of them as mid-range.

Performance*
vs.
Features Pixel 4a Pixel 5
SoC Snapdragon 730 Snapdragon 765
Graphics Adreno 618 Adreno 620
Geekbench 5 Score 1626
1647
21
OS Android 10 Android 11
Tek-Score
4.7
4.7
0.0

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Google Pixel 4a front transparent png Google Pixel 5 front transparent png

There isn't a winner here, so you have to decide for yourself.

If you prefer a smartphone with a small display, the Pixel 4a is the one. Most phones from its price range don't even come close.

If you're leaning towards the Pixel 4a, 91% of its rivals have an AMOLED screen, and 75% have an Always-On display. However, only 22% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Considering the Pixel 5, just so you know, 88% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and 96% have an AMOLED screen.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Size 5.8
6.0
0.2
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x2340
1080x2340
0
Refresh Rate 60hz 90hz 30
Dots per Inch 444.35
429.53
-14.81
Always-On-Display Yes Yes
Notch Hole Hole
Peak Brightness 803 nits
699 nits
-104
HDR HDR HDR10+
Sub Tek-Score
8.7
8.7
0.0
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Corning Gorilla Glass 6
Tek-Score
4.3
7.9
3.6

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Google Pixel 4a back transparent png Google Pixel 5 back transparent png

By DXOMARK's standards, the Pixel 5 is also roughly 48% above other smartphones from its price range. And I'd willingly pick this over the Pixel 4a.

About the Pixel 4a: DXOMARK has rated this camera with a score of 122. By including its digital zoom abilities, it'll get 128 points. For a thorough review, click here.

I hope this helps: all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens.

About the Pixel 5: DXOMARK evaluated this camera, and here's the score: 129. By considering its wide-angle lens, we get a score of 138 points. You can click here to check it out.

Finally, just like the other device, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 92% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Regardless, only 19% of them feature a macro lens.

Considering this score, we can classify the Pixel 4a as a lower high-end and the Pixel 5 more as a high-end.

If you love optical zoom like I do, just ignore these two and check the Apple iPhone 11 Pro instead.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.7
1.7
0.0
Lens 27mm
27mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 1 1 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 128
138
10

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Pixel 4a Pixel 5 vs.
Megapixels - 16
Aperture - 2.2
Lens - 17mm
Lens Type - Wide-Angle
Score 6 9 3
Selfie Camera Pixel 4a Pixel 5 vs.
Megapixels 8
8
0
Aperture 2.0
2.0
0.0
Lens 24mm 24mm 0
Pixel 4a Pixel 5 vs.
Tek-Score
7.5
8.1
0.6

Who has the best frame?

The Pixel 5 does stand out because of its aluminum build, water resistance, and looks.

By doing some math, I found out that the Pixel 4a is 14% smaller than other phones at nearly the same price.

The Pixel 5 is 8 g. (0.32 oz) heavier than its sibling, which sits at 143 g. (5.04 oz). If you're looking for a lightweight device, the Pixel 4a has a "weight to screen size" score of 8.9, and that's another way of saying it's one of the lightest phones for its screen size. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, has 8.4, which suggests exceptional work from Google.

The Pixel 5 truly is water-resistant. It can be submerged 1 to 3 meters deep. That shouldn't last over half an hour, in standby and freshwater only, so no saltwater or pools here.

Looks*
vs.
Body Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Size 144 x 69 x 8 mm
(5.08 x 2.43 x 0.28 in)
144 x 70 x 8 mm
(5.08 x 2.47 x 0.28 in)
1152
Weight 143 g. (5.04 oz)
151 g. (5.33 oz)
8
Build Front glass Front glass and aluminum back
Colors Just Black Just Black and Sorta Sage
Screen To Body Ratio 83.11%
87.67%
4.56
Disp.Size To Weight Score 8.9 8.4 -0.5
Looks 4.9/10
9.1/10
4.2
Waterproof - IP68
Biometrics Fingerprint Fingerprint
Tek-Score
3.7
9.1
5.4

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

At 3140 mAh, the Pixel 4a is the owner of the smallest battery, while the Pixel 5 features 4080 mAh. And GSMArena did test them out, and the latter is the one that stands out.

Clearly, for it, battery life was a primary concern. Google did a great job here if you ask me. Its "battery to device size" rate is 7.9.

Battery*
vs.
Features Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Capacity (mAh) 3140 4080 940
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 79% left
82% left
3
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 62% left
66% left
4
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 63% left
69% left
6
Bat. To Phone Size Score 7.4 7.9 0.5
Sub Tek-Score
6.8
7.2
0.4
Fast Charging 18w
18w
0
Wireless Charging No 12w
12
Reverse Charging No 5w
5
Tek-Score
5.9
6.9
1.0

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them.

Storage*
vs.
Features Pixel 4a Pixel 5
RAM (GB) 6GB
8GB
2
Internal (GB) 128GB
128GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
6.0
6.0
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

I'd go for the Pixel 4a if you really value a headphone jack.

You can connect the Pixel 4a to LTE or (LTE and) 5G networks. The 5G variant of the Pixel 4a has a larger 6.2-inch display, a bigger battery, an extra 16MP ultrawide camera, and a Snapdragon 765G SoC.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Network LTE (also available in 5G) 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack Yes No
Tek-Score
8.5
4.6
-3.8

Which is more affordable?

Here's what we've found out:

Google Pixel 4a

Reference: $350

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 5

Reference: $682

Google Pixel 5

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Pixel 4a Pixel 5 VS
Amazon - - -
eBay 1.16 1.17 0.01
Best Buy 1.88 - -
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Want to know about that global score? Just so you have an idea, take a look at where its adversaries average. They're in the ballpark of 6.0 for the Pixel 4a and 6.9 for the Pixel 5.

Verdict: What Makes the Google Pixel 5 Stand Out?

Things are a bit complicated. The Pixel 5 is more like a premium mid-range because Google went for a middle-class SoC. So, it should be an improvement over the Pixel 4a in every other spec, right?

Well, it depends. Is the headphone jack an essential feature for you?

If not, you can find better glass protection and higher refresh rates on the Pixel 5. You'll also have a wide-angle lens on a water-resistant phone. Battery life did improve a lot from its predecessor, plus you'll also get wireless and reverse charging. Also, 2 extra GB of RAM is a pleasant addition.

Pros Pixel 4a Pixel 5
#1 AMOLED AMOLED
#2 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#3 Cameras Cameras
#4 Fast Charging Fast Charging
#5 3.5mm Jack Wireless Charging
#6 Glass Protection
Cons Pixel 4a Pixel 5
#1 Wireless Charging MicroSD Slot
#2 MicroSD Slot 3.5mm Jack
#3 Glass Protection Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Pixel 4a Pixel 5
Gaming Score
5.8
6.6
0.8
Tek-Score
5.64
6.78
1.14
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Google Pixel 4a Related Comparisons


Google Pixel 5 Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Google Pixel 4a 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 8
    $370
  • ApplerivaliPhone XR
    $344
  • OnePlusrival7
    $388
  • XiaomirivalMi 9T Pro
    $385
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 8
    $419
  • ApplerivaliPhone 8 Plus
    $390
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M30s
    $300
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9
    $305
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ SD
    $359
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $329
  • OnePlusrival7T
    $329
  • HuaweirivalP30
    $400
  • RealmerivalXT
    $290
  • GooglerivalPixel 4
    $386
  • OnePlusrival6T
    $300
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9 Plus
    $305
  • XiaomirivalMi 9
    $400
  • HuaweirivalMate 20
    $285
  • XiaomirivalMi 9 Lite
    $317
  • ApplerivaliPhone SE 2
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Lite
    $299
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A71
    $400
  • OnePlusrivalNord
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE
    $359
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 5G
    $359
  • OpporivalFind X2 Neo
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M51
    $396
  • OnePlusrivalNord N10
    $299
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Lite
    $325
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Lite
    $399
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Lite
    $349
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A52
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A42
    $299
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 10 Pro Max
    $292
  • XiaomirivalMi 9t Pro
    $385

 Google Pixel 5 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e SD
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 SD
    $499
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $503
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8
    $480
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Pro
    $480
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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