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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  • s.yu - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    You can say the same about the Surface range basically, look at that new $1500 option. Reply
  • melgross - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    Price and room. The larger battery has to go somewhere. Reply
  • SpeedyTheTurtle - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    I per-ordered the pixel 5 but i might cancel it. Depending what happens in the next month or so. I can't stand any Samsung phone I hate their software so much and I want 5G (manly for low frequency 5G) I wanted the one plus nord but its not coming to the US. I currently have a PH-1 and now that they are out of business i really need a new phone. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    Never pre-order a phone before the holidays unless its the iPhone. Android phones ALWAYS have promos and iPhones rarely ever go on sale. I would wait for the Pixel 4a 5G to become more readily available in November if you really don't like Samsung. Personally I love Samsung's One UI over Touchjizz and have been using Nova Launcher Prime for almost a decade so the home screen is stock Android for me and the S20 FE with 120Hz looks like a great buy especially since Amazon is selling it for $599. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    Yeah put it on a Amazon wishlist and see it drop 20% within 48 hours! Never buy anything you don't need right there and then on Amazon. Always put it in a wishlist and get at least 10% off a day or two later. Reply
  • rahvin - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

    IMO the primary reason to purchase the Pixel is to avoid the stupid android overlays that Samsung and others use (which slow down the phone and aren't better in any way) along with the fact that Google keeps updating the OS for 3 years, whereas all the other manufacturers abandon the phone after a year.

    I've got a pixel2 that receives security updates every month (including september) and that I'll probably be upgrading to the 5 because it's going to stop receiving security updates this year (rumor is October will be the last update).
    Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    No headphone jack,
    No SD card slot,
    No FF stereo setup,
    Copy paste ugly design,
    Overpriced to hell for the specs and always having QC issues from structural integrity to the damned HW make.

    SAF + Scoped Storage = worse than iOS due to fragmented standards and Google's garbage partitioning on Pixels means big headache to even make it work with root to see your local files on the NAND.

    For Eg - Pixel 2 added A/B, then 3 has modding issues and unconventional methods of recovery due to the fused filesystems /boot /recovery and then Pixel 4 has read-only ext4 system like Huawei ccp garbage EROFS, meaning no R/W access, even with root it's a hell.

    Now pair that with SAF + Scoped storage, this is at OS level from 10 - where you will have only one folder which is mediastore and that's the only place where you dump all the damn files on the phone, no more visible filesystem, and that mediastore only has media files like videos, photos and audio. So apps won't be able to see other files and folders, MTP created stuff also won't show up, sandboxed locations, no more POSIX libs and other file i/o ops valid since this is SAF with a performance hit on top - worst possible bullshit framework regression ever happened in Software development industry. SD card access also fucked up due to OS level API block from 10+

    I think AT only reviews HW mostly but this SAF should have seen some form of article really. It's unknown to masses now and will break a shit ton of apps in the future updates and almost kills all backwards compatibiliy due to the older OSes from KK+ LP v5 to the latest. Ultimate bullshit it just kills Android in one shot, killing the entire FS access.

    Google simply wants to copy Apple, I hope this Pissxel phone flops even harder than last. Copying so hard on Apple, why would I choose Android when I don't have the said advantages of free filesystem access and others which Android boasts about like HW from high quality audio (LG, Vivo, Sony), video (Pro modes on Sony & LG), Display technologies, Expandable storages, unique price points, design. Everything is now a copy paste of Apple.
    Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    You can also see this with Chrome and Kiwi etc apps, download anything, you don't see then in usual Downloads folder. It goes to the app folder, once you delete all is gone. Imagine that with other apps such has Photoshop Express and etc, modify the files and delete, all your files and data wiped off clean. Reply
  • Tams80 - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    This pisses me off daily. There are utter morons working over at Alphabet. Reply
  • RU482 - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    uuhhh, why would a phone focused at the middle care about anything you just said.

    Google doesn't want to copy Apple in anything other than number of units sold....and focusing on the middle right now is a solid strategy IMO
    Reply

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