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(Pocket-lint) - Google revealed the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G in 2020 - and has added the Pixel 5a 5G to the mix in 2021. That gives Google three phones, closely aligned, all offering 5G and many of the same features. 

So how do all these phones compare? We've compared all the devices to help you play spot the difference.

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Prices

  • Pixel 5a 5G: $449
  • Pixel 5: $699 | £599
  • Pixel 4a 5G: $499 | £499

The Pixel 5 was launched as the affordable flagship phone for 2020, with the Pixel 4a 5G naturally sitting beneath it. The new Pixel 5a 5G updates the Pixel 4a 5G - launching at a cheaper price than the phone it replaces.

The pricing for the Pixel 5a 5G comes in a $449, it was officially announced on 17 August with pre-orders opening immediately. It will only be available in the US and Japan, with shipping starting from 26 August.

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Design

  • Pixel 5a 5G: 154.9 x 73.7 x 7.6mm, 185g
  • Pixel 5: 144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm, 151g
  • Pixel 4a 5G: 153.9 x 74 x 8.2mm, 168g

Recent Pixel devices all look similar, with a rear square camera in the top left-hand corner, a rear fingerprint scanner and punch hole display on the front. 

The Pixel 5 was launched as the premium device for 2020, a slightly more compact flagship, with a higher quality finish. It had a metal rear shell - while still supporting wireless charging - and an IP68 rating to protect it from water and dust. It is available in black or sage green colours. 

The Pixel 4a 5G is larger than the Pixel 5 and has a polycarbonate back, i.e., plastic, with a matte finish and available in black. It added a 3.5mm headphone socket to the mix - giving it an advantage over the Pixel 5 for those wanting wired headphones, but lacked any sort of IP rating.

The Pixel 5a 5G is a little larger, but sticks to the same overall design, so it will look like the Pixel 4a 5G, again with a 3.5mm headphone socket, but it has a metal unibody. The Pixel 5a 5G has an IP67 rating, however, which is a great addition on this level of device.

The Pixel 5a 5G comes in Mostly Black, which Google says has "forest green undertones" along with the olive green power button.

Display

  • Pixel 5a 5G: 6.34-inch, OLED, 60Hz
  • Pixel 5: 6-inch, OLED, 90Hz
  • Pixel 4a 5G: 6.2-inch, OLED, 60Hz

The Pixel 5 has a 6-inch OLED display. The resolution is 2340 x 1080 pixels, 432ppi, it has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and offers support for HDR. It is also has a 90Hz refresh rate.

The Pixel 4a 5G has a 6.2-inch display, also OLED, but with a 60Hz refresh rate. The resolution is 2340 x 1080 pixels, 413ppi.

The Pixel 5a 5G has a larger 6.34-inch OLED display, making it the largest of the lot. The resolution sticks to full HD+ and also 60Hz, so it's very much a case of repeating the performance of the Pixel 4a 5G.

Hardware

  • Pixel 5a 5G: Qualcomm SD765G, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 4620mAh
  • Pixel 5: Qualcomm SD765G, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, 4000mAh
  • Pixel 4a 5G: Qualcomm SD765G, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3800mAh

Both the Google Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G run on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G platform, which features integrated 5G. It's the same as the Pixel 5a 5G which sits on the same platform, again with integrated 5G, meaning a lot of parity between these devices. 

The Pixel 5 has a slight bump in RAM, but it's only minor, so we'd expect the performance of these phones to be pretty much the same in daily use.

Where there is a big difference is in the battery: the Pixel 5a 5G has a 4620mAh battery, which is the largest of the lot. This gives it a significant advantage over the Pixel 4a 5G that it replaces and in all likelihood it will outlast the Pixel 5 too. Big battery appears to be the biggest unique feature of the Pixel 5a 5G.

The Pixel 5 offers wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, a little premium feature giving you a few more options on this top device, which neither of the others offer.

Cameras

  • Pixel 5a 5G: 16MP + 12.2MP, 8MP
  • Pixel 5: 16MP + 12.2MP, 8MP
  • Pixel 4a 5G: 16MP + 12.2MP, 8MP

The Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G come with a dual rear camera, comprised of the main 12.2-megapixel, 1.4µm, with an f/1.7 aperture and an ultra-wide 16-megapixel with an f/2.2 aperture. Their front camera is 8-megapixels with an f/2.0 aperture.

The Pixel 5a 5G will offer exactly the same loadout of cameras, before a much more substantial change comes in on the Pixel 6

With that in mind, we'd expect pretty much the same performance across all these devices. Pixel phones are characterised by their computational photography, reliability in varied situations and excellent low light performance. We'd expect exactly the same from the Pixel 5a 5G.

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Conclusions

There are few differences between these Pixel models, perhaps bringing an end to a slightly uncertain chapter in Pixel history. With the Pixel 6 expected to make substantial changes, the look, feel and the hardware performance of the Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a 5G are all very much the same. 

There's the same core hardware and the same camera experience, and while the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5a 5G has a lower refresh rate on the display.

The Pixel 5 hangs onto a few premium features you don't get elsewhere like the higher quality materials, the IP68 waterproofing and the wireless charging - but with larger phones available at lower prices, it's hard to ignore the Pixel A series models.

The Pixel 5a 5G is an obvious replacement for the Pixel 4a 5G - which is out of stock in some regions - but between these phones, it's the newer model you want - IP protection, a metal body, and a bigger battery for less money makes complete sense.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 17 August 2021.