The Pixel 5a is Google‘s affordable Pixel for 2021, and like past Pixel A devices before it, it has very respectable specs given the low price. Budget and mid-tier smartphones are always a tricky niche to perfect. Companies are constantly competing to sell a phone at the lowest price possible — while at the same time upping their specs and features year after year. It’s a balancing act that doesn’t always pay off, but certain brands have cracked the code.
Since its introduction in 2019, the Pixel A-Series has stood out as Google’s lineup of budget smartphones. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL kicked things off, delivering solid performance, good-looking displays, and camera quality never before seen at such low prices. The Pixel 4 and 4a 5G then debuted in 2020, and while they weren’t quite as jaw-dropping, they continued the goal of delivering a quality Pixel experience at reasonable prices. Google announced the Pixel 5a on August 17, 2021, as the next generation for the A-Series. Its spec sheet isn’t drastically different from its 4a 5G predecessor, but there’s still a lot to like for $449.
Starting with the Pixel 5a’s hardware, the phone has a soft-touch plastic design and is available in just one color: Mostly Black. Google says it weighs 183g and measures 156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8mm. On the front is a 6.34-inch ‘bezel-less’ display. It’s made up of an OLED panel, 2400 x 1080 Full HD+ resolution, 413ppi pixel density, 20:9 aspect ratio, and 60Hz refresh rate. At the top-left corner is a hole-punch cutout for the 8MP selfie camera. It’s a fixed focus sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and an 83-degree field-of-view (FoV). On the back of the Pixel 5a is where its two rear cameras live. First up is the 12.2MP primary camera. It’s equipped with dual-pixel technology, phase detection autofocus, optical + electronic image stabilization, f/1.7 aperture, and a 77-degree FoV. Next to that is the 16MP ultra-wide camera. It touts an f/2.2 aperture and 117-degree FoV, but there’s no phase detection autofocus or image stabilization.
Next up are the Pixel 5a’s internals. Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, Adreno 620 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of (non-expandable) storage. The Snapdragon 765G also enables 5G connectivity for the Pixel 5a, though it is limited to sub-6 5G. Other internal specs include a 4,680 mAh battery, Google’s Titan M Security Module for enhanced on-device security, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/a with 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, Google Cast, and support for a variety of wireless audio codecs — including AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, and AAC. Missing from that list, unfortunately, is Dolby Atmos.
Then there are all of the smaller details for the Pixel 5a. It’s the first Pixel A-Series device with a dust and water resistance rating — specifically, IP67. There are stereo speakers for external audio playback, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C port with 18W charge speeds, one nano-SIM slot, and eSIM support.
Overall, the Google Pixel 5a is a well-rounded handset. The year-old processor isn’t ideal, but it should be more than capable for most workflows. The same goes for the camera system. It’s identical to the one Google used in 2020, but it’s also proven to be one of the most reliable and consistent on the market. Add those things together with the huge battery, 5G connectivity, and IP67 rating, and the Pixel 5a manages to pack a sizeable punch.