Today through the company’s rather short virtual launch event, among other novelties, Google has officially announced the new Pixel 4a (5G) and the new Pixel 5. Both phones had been teased for some time now as Google had pre-announced them back in in early August with the announcement of the Pixel 4a.

The new Pixel 4a (5G) is very much what its name implies, a variant of the Pixel 4a with added 5G connectivity through the addition of a Snapdragon 765 SoC. The phone here is very similar to its 4G variant, although Google had to grow the device’s dimensions a bit, and a more apt name for it would have been the 4a XL (5G) but that’s quite a mouthful.

The new Pixel 5 is a quite different phone for Google’s mainstream line-up as here the company has abandoned any attempts at making a flagship device, relegating itself into the mid-range to premium price segment. Also featuring a Snapdragon 765, the phone’s other specs are quite more conservative compared to other devices in 2020 – it’s somewhat of a risky move at a still rather high $699 price point.

2020 Google Pixels
  Pixel 4a
 
Pixel 4a (5G)
(NEW)
Pixel 5
(NEW)
SoC Snapdragon 730G

2x CA76 @ 2.2GHz
6x CA55 @ 1.8GHz


Adreno 618
Snapdragon 765G

1x CA76 @ 2.4GHz
1x CA76 @ 2.2GHz
6x CA55 @ 1.8GHz

Adreno 620
DRAM 6GB LPDDR4X 8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB UFS 2.1 128GB 128GB
Display 5.81" OLED
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)

 
6.2" OLED
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)

 
6.0" OLED
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)

90Hz
Size Height 144.0 mm 153.9 mm 144.7 mm
Width 69.4 mm 74.0 mm 70.4 mm
Depth 8.2 mm 8.2 mm 8.0 mm
Weight 143 grams 168g (sub-6)
171g (mmWave)
151g
Battery Capacity 3140mAh (typical)

18W Fast Charging
3885mAh (typical)

18W Fast Charging
4080mAh (typical)

18W Fast Charging
Wireless Charging - - Yes
Rear Cameras
Main 12.2MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PDAF
f/1.7 77° lens with OIS
Telephoto - - -
Wide - 16MP 1.0µm

f/2.2 107°
Ultra-Wide Angle
Extra - - -
Front Camera 8MP 1.12µm
f/2.0 84° lens; fixed focus
I/O USB-C
3.5mm headphone jack
USB-C
Wireless (local) 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
Cellular Snapdragon LTE
Integrated X15

(LTE Category 12/5)
DL = 600Mbps
UL = 150Mbps
Snapdragon 5G
Integrated X52

(LTE Category 18/13)
DL = 1200 Mbps
UL = 150 Mbps

(5G NR Sub-6 + mmWave*)
DL = 3700 Mbps
UL = 1600 Mbps

*excludes non-mmWave model of 4a(5G)
*excludes mmWave in non-US markets
Other Features Dual Speakers Dual Speakers Dual Speakers
IP68 Rating 
Dual-SIM 1x nanoSIM + eSIM
Launch Price $349 / 349£ / 349€
 
$499 / £499 / €499
$599* (mmWave)
$699* / £599 / €629
 

Starting off with the heart of the phones, both the new 4a (5G) and the Pixel 5 are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G SoC. For the Pixel 5 this is a rather obvious choice given Google’s new targeted price range for the phone, although more on that later.

For the Pixel 4a (5G) this actually represents a rather larger bump in specifications compared to the Snapdragon 730G of the Pixel 4a, and the reasoning for the whole upgrade seems to have been 5G, and more specifically, the Snapdragon 765G’s ability to support mmWave connectivity.

Looking at Google’s pricing and different models that they’re releasing in different markets, it’s easily to see that mmWave connectivity has been a rather integral part of why Google made some of their component choices in the new Pixel devices. In the US, both the 4a (5G) and 5 support 5G connectivity with mmWave, however the 4a (5G) also comes with a 5G sub-6-only variant that’s actually $100 cheaper – this one is the publicly marketed $499 unit Google was showcasing during the launch. The Verizon Pixel 4a (5G) on the other hand costs $599. The Pixel 5 in the US costs $699 and only has a mmWave model. More on the international pricing later in the article.

RAM and storage wise, the Pixel 4a (5G) continues the 6GB configuration we’ve seen on the Pixel 4a, whilst the Pixel 5 upgrades that to 8GB. Both new phones feature 128GB of storage, however Google didn’t exactly specify the storage grade – it’s likely the 4a (5G) uses the same UFS 2.1 as on the 4a, whilst we don’t yet have confirmation on what the Pixel 5 is deploying.

On the matter of connectivity, it’s disappointing to see that Google is avoiding Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax in even the Pixel 5, meaning it won’t be as future proof – however given the lower price compared to a conventional flagship that’s somewhat of an acceptable compromise.

The Pixel 4a (5G) is of a similar build and design to the Pixel 4a, essentially representing a larger device that frankly could have been called the Pixel 4a XL (5G) if one would have to give it a more apt description.

The phone is still made of a polycarbonate plastic and it features a now larger 6.2” OLED screen coming in at 2340 x 1080 resolution. There’s no high refresh rate to be found here as Google is sticking to 60Hz.

As noted, it’s a larger phone and the critical dimension for ergonomics is the width, which has grown from 69.4mm to 74.0mm. The weight of the phone has also gone up from 143g to 168g for the sub-6 model and 171g for the mmWave model of the device.

The Pixel 5 employs a very similar design to both the 4a and the 5a (5G) – to the point that you actually wonder wouldn’t know that these devices are named after different generations – if that even has any kind of meaning anymore given the 4a (5G) and the 5 are almost identical in specifications.

What’s different about the Pixel 5 that you wouldn’t recognize in the pictures is that it’s made out of aluminium, which is quite interesting as we haven’t had a unibody aluminium device by a manufacturer in quite some years. One odd thing about this aspect of the phone is that Google is still employing wireless charging – so what must be happening is that there has to be some sort of cut-out in the back that’s covered in paint or some sort of layer that is hiding a non-electrically-conductive part of the back cover.

The front of the Pixel 5 looks almost identical to the 4a (5G), defined by a uniform bezel and a camera hole cut-out in the top left corner of the screen which houses the same 8MP 1.12µm f/2.0 camera that’s sported on the 4a, 4a (5G) and the 5 units.

The display is still a 2340 x 1080 resolution OLED unit, but is slightly smaller at 6.0” diagonal. The good news here is that Google at least is employing a 90Hz refresh rate on this model.

The Pixel 5 actually being of a similar form-factor to the 4a, actually is able to house a significantly larger battery at 4000mAh typical capacity – quite a large jump over the 3140mAh unit of its budget sibling. That’s actually even larger than the 3885mAh typical capacity of the new 4a (5G), even with the Pixel 5 weighing less at only 151g.

On the camera side of things, there’s good news and bad news. The good news for the Pixel 4a (5G) is that it’s using the same main camera module as on the 4a and previous generation flagship Pixels. The 12.2MP unit with 1.4µm pixels and an f/1.7 aperture optics module is still quite good in this range.

Google has evolved its HDR+ algorithm and notes that with this generation it has introduced exposure bracketing capture ability – meaning instead of stacking several captures of low exposures, it’ll now do stacking of several different exposure lengths. Hopefully this will help the phone increase its dynamic range capture abilities.

The bad news is that the Pixel 5 still continues to feature this main camera sensor.

The unit had been used since the Pixel 3 with only minor upgrades in the sensor versions. We don’t know if Google is planning to release a higher-end Pixel device above the Pixel 5 any time soon, so what this means is that Google needs to counteract with software an increasingly large hardware gap that’s kept on growing compared to the competition. The Pixel 4 already lost out to last year’s iPhone 11 series in picture quality and the Pixel 5 will unlikely to change much in that regard, as even Google’s own PR image samples of the camera show pronounced noise and lacking dynamic range.

Another positive is that there’s now an ultra-wide-angle camera module alongside the main unit. It’s been widely agreed upon that Google’s telephoto unit with the Pixel 4 was a faux-pas in a year where essentially everybody else has had or had introduced UWA cameras. Seemingly this year with the Pixel 5 Google has realised that people use phones in tighter spaces more often than shooting long distances, and opted for the UWA instead. This is a 16MP 1.0µm unit with an f/2.2 aperture and a 107° field-of-view. It’s likely amongst the narrowest UWA units out there, but I still prefer this to a telephoto – although other competitors out there don’t force you to make this choice and give you a full trifecta of camera modules to choose from.

Focusing on the mid-range? Or giving up on the high-end?

The Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 are devices that I’m having a hard time rationalising. Last year, I noted that Google had failed with the Pixel 4 – not that it was a bad device, it was just overpriced for what it delivered.

This year, Google at least made the change to their pricing structure to allow for more affordable devices, with the Pixel 5 coming in at $699, and the 4a (5G) coming in at $499 ($599 with mmWave). The problem I have is not with the prices, it’s with what Google actually delivers at those prices.

Right now, if you’re in the US you’d have to be utterly insane in considering the Pixel 5 at $699 given you have the option of a Galaxy S20 FE 5G for $599, with an SoC that obliterates the Pixel 5’s, a better higher-refresh rate screen, bigger batteries, Wi-Fi 6, and a more complete camera module setup – although I’m sure there’s arguments to be had in regards to the software processing front of things. Software support is also no longer a valid argument given that Samsung has started 3 year OS upgrade commitments going forward.

Google’s UK pricing is also frankly a bit absurd, especially on the Pixel 4a (5G) which costs $499/£499/€499 – yes there’s taxes included in the European prices, but the pound sterling hasn’t yet fallen in value like that. In these markets where we have fiercer competition available from the Asian vendors it also begs the question whether you buy a single Pixel 4a (5G) or you get two Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite’s for almost the same price – both Snapdragon 765G phones by the way. OnePlus here also undercuts both the 4a (5G) by 100€/£121 with the Nord, whilst the Pixel 5 is attacked by a slew of other flagship devices that have since fallen in price.

When I had reached out to Google asking for Pixel 5 samples, my local PR contact I’ve been relegated to replied that Google has no plans to release the device in Belgium & Luxembourg, and as such “he can’t help me further”. At this point I’m not sure what Google’s Pixel division is even trying to achieve – if you don’t even make an effort to even release the phones in most markets, and barely make the minimum effort of covering your devices during your launch event (A literal 7 minutes out of a 30 minute show) – then you’re just doomed to fail. The Pixel 4a (5G) and the Pixel 5 just feel dead on arrival for me.

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  • melgross - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    Overtaken? That simply means that they don’t compete. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    "Sony phone cameras have always been decent, they just got overtaken"

    Sony was consistently, and noticeably, outdone by competitors that used the SAME CAMERA. The sony sensor, hell the same overall hardware package, was used by other comapnies like samsung and LG to far greater effect. Sony wasnt just asleep at the wheel, they were passed out ina drunken stupor.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    I've always wanted a, 'quite' speaker, what! Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    To be honest, the Sony seems like the perfect phone for me, I'm somewhat willing to give up wireless charging since wired charging is faster.

    The problem for me is the phone is just too slim and tall. It's even worse than the other phones on the market. I prefer 16:9, 17:9, or around 18:9. I cannot reach the notification thing all the way up at the top. I also don't like the power/volume positioning.

    The phone display should be a case, and you stick your motherboard in it. Look up the Nexus 5 motherboard and see how tiny it is.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    This is the sorta comments I was hoping for : )
    What's important depends on a personal level, and ergonomics is one of them. I've even heard people skipping good/great devices because they've fully transitioned to wireless charging in their lifestyle.

    I like the 21:9 aspect ratio. It's much more useable than the 20:9 ratio of today, 19:9 ratio of yesteryear, and even better than the 18:9 ratio before then. These are all too short to show Widescreen Videos (21:9), yet when showing Regular Videos (16:9) there are a lot of letter-boxing. Going wider here is simply wasteful. It means the physical phone size has increased, yet the visual has stayed the same.

    Personally I think 17:9 is the better aspect ratio. It allows you to have the full 16:9 experience, and the slight extra length allows you to curve the corners for aesthetics, and put your notch in, without disturbing the image (most videos, most games, many Apps). End result is you get to have a high screen-to-body ratio like today's devices, but you don't get to increase the phone's size at all.

    The alternative is to have a 16:9 device, with Slim Bezels (like Samsung S8) on both sides. In these bezels put front-firing stereo loudspeakers like the ASUS RoG Phone 2, and also put in all your other cameras and sensors in there. The end result is a device just as compact and good as the 17:9 one.

    The best aspect ratio is Root2, 1:1.4142, 12.73:9, iMax.
    Although it's great for tablets/desktops, today that's difficult for phones because we're vested in the 16:9 ecosystem too much. In an alternate universe it would've been ideal for phones. Hindsight 20/20. Just imagine if Steve Jobs released the iPhone in that aspect ratio, with the cameras taking photos and videos in that aspect ratio, all Apps being made for it. Google would've copied them and two major companies would be on the same page. Eventually Apps, Games, Videos would saturate the iMax aspect ratio, so making the phone wider for 16:9 would've been wasteful. The progress of increasing the screen resolution (or doubling) would have gone hand in hand with the silicon doubling/Moore's Law. Resolution doubling would be simple and require no App re-writes too. Split-screening would've been much cleaner too. Things would be more optimised.
    Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    I mean, needless to say - phones should come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

    I should be able to get a phone body in any size i want - a G3 body, a S20 Ultra body, a Nexus 4 body or Gnex body, and put any motherboard and battery I want inside it. It wouldn't even be difficult to do, it's very easy to put together/take apart a phone, that's how they're able to pay Chinese employees pennies to do it.

    Wideness is a dealbreaker for me, I need a certain width otherwise I won't feel comfortable typing. I need around 75mm width.

    Tallness, I could be willing to tolerate a ridiculous super-tall phone... IF AND ONLY IF the software was completely reworked to allow one-handed use without reaching for the notification area all the time. Doubt it will ever happen.

    LG G3 with case was my fav size.

    Not sure what you are talking about there with the 12.73:9, it sounds OK, but humans have 180 degrees width FOV and typically dont look up/down very much, so I understand a bit why they went 16:9 and ultra-wide. 17:9 is just about at the limit of where my finger can reach the top with one hand.

    100% agreed that 17:9 is the best. My G6 is 18:9, I can reach the top, but it's only 72mm wide, making it 76mm would make it perfect for me to type on.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    Okay, the IMAX ratio which is roughly 12.73:9 is found by the Root2. Or to put it more succinctly, it is the same as the ISO standard for A4 paper.

    The first advantage of this aspect ratio, is that it's very Tablet friendly. It feels less awkward to hold than a 16:10 laptop/tablet. And you could adapt it to phone sizes, if you're careful. And when supersized to a Monitor, Projector, or TV size it's also decent. So there would be a cohesive unification of User Experience going from the smallest to the largest of sizes. That means rapid development of the ecosystem (hardware, kernel, drivers, OS, Apps). Back in 2005-2010 this would be groundbreaking, and even in 2015 it wasn't quite mainstream, so a huge missed opportunity.

    Yet the major benefit is that when you fold A4 in half from the long edge, it will create a new size that is exactly half the area of the first... YET it will maintain the SAME aspect ratio as before. Ofcourse, this works in reverse when you double the short-side. And what this means, is that if you wanted to run TWO windows they will scale EXACTLY within the frame. Think of iPhone Apps running side-by-side on a new iPad, except the system won't waste processing power to scale them, and nor would developers need to spend extra time coding for this. You could also split it into a Quadrant or further. Floating Windows like today's are still possible and would be easier to do, but might need some extra coding. So from a multi-tasking perspective, this is objectively the best choice.

    And what makes this special is that, because it is the Root of 2, it works in the powers of 2. Ie doubling. And this scales well with computers. Think 1GB, 2GB, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc etc. And even more intriguing is that Moore's Law has been a phenomenon for so long, so transistor counts do double every few years. So if you had a new resolution it would scale in-cadence with the processor. Remember how the iPad2 was a phenomenal device for its time, yet the iPad3 was a big letdown... yeah, scaling!

    Imagine if Steve Jobs had this idea, and in his life this is how the iPhone and iPads were thought of. He would've revolutionised the industry. And competitors would have flocked to the same Root2 Aspect Ratio, just like they imitated the touchscreen and design. So there would be heaps of Root2 content out in terms of Photos, Wallpapers, Gifs, Video Recordings, Apps, and Games. It would set a new industry standard, the way we have the 4:3 standard, the 16:9 standard and the 21:9 standard. And that's because Apple would've pushed things forward, and the likes of Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Sony, Samsung, LG, and others would have pushed it further.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    I split my reply into two. First is the written comment, about the why. This is the second comment, giving the details of the how. I hope I do not pi ss many readers of this site (I'm sorry).

    Here is how I think (Root2) computing devices could have progressed:
    Year ======= 2008 ----- 2010 ----- 2012 ---- 2014 ----- 2016 ---- 2018 ---- 2020
    Lithography == 64nm --- 48nm ---- 32nm ---- 24nm --- 16nm ---- 12nm ---- 8nm
    GPU ======= 2 CU ----- 3 CU ---- 4 CU ----- 6 CU ---- 8 CU --- 12 CU -- 16 CU
    CPU ======= 1 core --- 1 core --- 2 core --- 3 core --- 4 core -- 6 core -- 8 core
    RAM ======= 1 GB ----- 1 GB ---- 2 GB ----- 3 GB ---- 4 GB ---- 6 GB ---- 8 GB
    NAND ====== 8 GB ---- 16 GB --- 32 GB --- 64 GB -- 128GB - 256GB - 512GB
    Resolution === E9 --------- E9+ ----- E10 ------ E10+ ---- E11 ----- E11+ ---- E12
    Framerate === 24fps ----- 48fps --- 48fps ----- 72fps --- 72fps --- 96fps --- 96fps

    ...and, this is to go even further beyond!!
    Year ======= 2022 ----- 2024 ---- 2026 --- 2028 --- 2030 ---- 2032
    Lithography == 6nm ----- 4nm ----- 3nm ---- 2nm --- +2nm ---- 1nm
    GPU ======= 24CU --- 32CU --- 48CU -- 64CU --- 96CU -- 128CU
    CPU ======= 12core - 16core - 24core - 32core - 48core -- 64core
    RAM ======= 12 GB -- 16 GB -- 24 GB -- 32 GB -- 48 GB -- 64 GB
    NAND ====== 1 TB ----- 2 TB ----- 4 TB ---- 8 TB --- 16 TB -- 32 TB
    Resolution === E12+ ----- E13 ------ E13+ --- E14 ---- E14+ ---- E15
    Framerate === 120fps -- 120fps -- 144fps -- 144fps -- 168fps -- 168fps

    Here's how the physical devices could have moved forwards (helps to think in Apple terms):
    The Original iPhone (later renamed to iPhone Mini)
    (2008, 2009) - A8 size (3.62in) - 173 ppi - E9 Resolution - 512 x 362p
    (2010, 2011) - A8 size (3.62 in) - 245 ppi - e9+ resolution - 724 x 512p
    (2012 & up ) - A8 size (3.62 in) - 347 ppi - E10 Resolution - 1024 x 724p

    The New iPhone (later renamed to iPhone Pro)
    (2010, 2011) - A8+ size (4.43 in) - 288 ppi - E10 Resolution - 1024 x 724p
    (2012, 2013) - A8+ size (4.43 in) - 408 ppi - e10+ resolution - 1448 x 1024p
    (2014 & up ) - A8+ size (4.43 in) - 577 ppi - E11 Resolution - 2048 x 1448p

    The Latest iPhone (later renamed to iPhone Max)
    (2012, 2013) - A7 size (5.11 in) - 347 ppi - e10+ resolution - 1448 x 1024p
    (2014, 2015) - A7 size (5.11 in) - 491 ppi - E11 Resolution - 2048 x 1448p
    (2016 & up ) - A7 size (5.11 in) - 694 ppi - e11+ resolution - 2896 x 2048p

    Here's the display sizes/names in more detail:
    A1+ = 49.37 in - 724mm x 1024mm
    A1 == 40.90 in - 600mm x 848mm
    A2+ = 34.91 in - 512mm x 724mm
    A2 == 28.92 in - 424mm x 600mm
    A3+ = 24.69 in - 362mm x 512mm
    A3 == 20.45 in - 300mm x 424mm
    A4+ = 17.45 in - 256mm x 362mm
    A4 == 14.32 in - 212mm x 300mm
    A5+ = 12.35 in - 181mm x 256mm
    A5 == 10.23 in - 150mm x 212mm
    A6+ = 8.73 in - 128mm x 181mm
    A6 == 7.23 in - 106mm x 150mm
    A7+ = 6.18 in - 90mm x 128mm
    A7 == 5.11 in - 75mm x 106mm
    A8+ = 4.35in - 64mm x 90mm
    A8 = 3.62 in - 53mm x 75mm

    And here's the Root2 screen resolutions that I'm referencing:
    E1 == 2 x 1
    E1+ = 3 x 2
    E2 == 4 x 3
    E2+ = 6 x 4
    E3 == 8 x 6
    E3+ = 11 x 8
    E4 == 16 x 11
    E4+ = 23 x 16
    E5 == 32 x 23
    E5+ = 45 x 32
    E6 == 64 x 45
    E6+ = 90 x 64
    E7 == 128 x 90
    E7+ = 180 x 128
    E8 == 256 x 180
    E8+ = 362 x 256
    E9 == 512 x 362
    E9+ = 724 x 512
    E10 == 1024 x 724
    E10+ = 1448 x 1024
    E11 == 2048 x 1448
    E11+ = 2896 x 2048
    E12 == 4096 x 2896
    E12+ = 5792 x 4096
    E13 == 8192 x 5792
    E13+ = 11584 x 8192

    ...I think you get the pattern here.
    Reply
  • Tamelawarren - Saturday, October 3, 2020 - link

    good game Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    The Pixel range have always been fairly terrible value for money. I guess they just see it as a theme to be upheld, now? Reply

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