The Pixel 5a has just been announced as Google‘s budget handset for 2021, and while it looks awfully familiar at first glance, there are a few exciting upgrades under the hood. This news comes just a couple of weeks after Google previewed the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro — its two flagship smartphones for the year. Those devices look to be huge advancements for the Pixel series as a whole, delivering a brand new design, Google Tensor chipset, and a completely revamped camera system. However, it’s expected that they’ll cost a lot of money. The Pixel 5a is the new Pixel of choice for folks who can’t stomach flagship pricing.
Google also released three Pixels in 2020, but its strategy was considerably different. That lineup consisted of two Pixel A devices (including the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G) and the ‘flagship’ Pixel 5. The Pixel 4a was an easy recommendation for anyone on a tight budget, but the incredibly similar specs of the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 always felt a bit off. This year’s trio of Pixels appears to be clearing things up. The Pixel 5a is now the default budget choice, while the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will shine as the very best of what Google has to offer.
For folks who decide to go the route of the Pixel 5a, they’ll be in for a solid handset from Google. The phone looks very similar to the Pixel 4a 5G, featuring the same camera housing, soft-touch plastic back, and rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The only physical difference is that the 5a is heavier and thicker, along with a 6.34-inch display — the largest yet on a Pixel A-series handset. That display is an OLED one with a 2400 x 1080 resolution, and it’s set to a standard 60Hz refresh rate. There were rumors of the 5a touting a 90Hz panel, but that didn’t make the cut.
Looking under the hood of the Pixel 5a, it’s equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, Adreno 620 graphics, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Those are identical internals of last year’s Pixel 4a 5G, and it also means that the Pixel 5a supports sub-6 5G connectivity. Also similar is the camera setup. The Pixel 5a uses the same 12.2MP main camera seen on so many Pixels over the years, in addition to a 16MP ultra-wide lens.
While all of that might sound pretty underwhelming, there are two key upgrades for the Pixel 5a’s spec sheet. The Pixel 5a is equipped with a massive 4,680 mAh battery. That’s over 20 percent larger than the Pixel 4a 5G and 49 percent larger than the regular Pixel 4a. Also present on the Pixel 5a is an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. This is something all previous Pixel A devices have lacked, meaning Google finally has an affordable Pixel that can survive a day by the pool or beach.
And then there’s the price. Google’s selling the Pixel 5a for $449, which is $100 more than the Pixel 4a and $50 less than the Pixel 4a 5G. As a successor to the regular 4a, the Pixel 5a makes a good argument for itself. It has a faster processor, larger display, an ultra-wide camera, and 5G support. A lot of that was already offered on the 4a 5G, but it’s now paired with that huge battery, water resistance rating, and a slightly lower price. Last year’s Pixels were excellent, and the Pixel 5a improves on that formula in a couple of important ways. It may not be the most exciting phone of the year, but the foundation is there for a great Android experience. Pre-orders for the Pixel 5a are open right now on the Google Store in the U.S. and Japan, with regular sales following on August 26.