The Pixel 5a 5G is the latest in Google’s line of mid-range smartphones, offering some of the flagship Pixels’ best features for a whole lot less.
Once rumoured to be cancelled entirely, the Pixel 5a is instead only launching in the US and Japan – but we now have the full details on the phone, which is on sale now. Here’s what you need to know.
If you’d rather watch than read, we discussed the Pixel 5a’s launch on an episode of our weekly YouTube series
Fast Charge, which you can watch right here:
Where can I buy the Pixel 5a?
Google unveiled the Pixel 5a 5G on 17 August, and the phone went on sale on 26 August – but only in the US and Japan.
Some had hoped it would turn up earlier at May’s
Google’s I/O conference, when we saw
Android 12 launch, but there was no such luck – which makes sense, as the
Pixel 4a launched in August last year too.
The Pixel 5a costs US$449 – which falls neatly between the Pixel 4a price of $349 and the 4a 5G’s $499 price tag.
The phone is available to pre-order now from the
online Google store if you’re in the US or Japan. It ships unlocked, and will apparently work on all major carrier networks.
In the US, the phone is also available through the Google Fi network, where you can pre-order it for full price or get it through the company’s
phone subscription program from just $9 per month, with a Fi data plan on top. In Japan you can get the phone from Softbank too.
In terms of design, Google hasn’t changed much at all – the phone looks much like last year’s
Pixel 4a 5G, and like that phone is only available in a black finish – officially called Mostly Black.
It’s a little larger than that phone, with a 6.34in, Full HD+ flat OLED display – still limited to 60Hz, unfortunately, rather than a faster refresh rate.
Once again the fingerprint scanner is located on the phone’s rear – rather than under the display – and you’ll see an almost identical looking rear camera module. Stereo speakers provide the audio, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
In fact, the only major design change is one that you can’t see: the Pixel 5a 5G is water-resistant, with an IP67 rating for dust and water protection.
Perhaps more concerningly, even the internals haven’t changed much. Once again, the phone is powered by the Snapdragon 765G – the exact same chip used on the 4a 5G, and on the
Pixel 5. It’s a decent mid-range chipset, but Qualcomm has followed it up with more recent models this year, such as the
Snapdragon 780G, and it’s a shame not to see one of those used instead.
It’s even paired with the exact same other specs: 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That means performance will essentially be identical to the last phone, with no meaningful advances at all.
It’s the same story with the camera: the same pair of 12Mp main and 16Mp ultrawide lenses return from last year, meaning camera quality should be identical – no bad thing when the camera was so impressive originally, to be fair.
That’s not true for the battery at least, which Google has bumped up to a 4680mAh cell. That’s the biggest in any Pixel phone yet, and a whopping 20% increase in capacity from the 4a 5G. 18W wired charging returns (with a charger included in the box), though once again wireless charging isn’t supported.
As you’d expect, it ships with Android 11, and Google is guaranteeing at least three years of OS version and security updates.
Tech Advisor's Deputy Editor, Dom covers everything that runs on electricity, from phones and laptops to wearables, audio, gaming, smart home, and streaming - plus he's a regular fixture on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel.