Google Pixel 5a review: “Which Android phone should I buy?” This one

I think at this point we can call the Pixel A series a “mid-range powerhouse.” Google has again turned in one of the best mid-range phones out there, thanks to its no-nonsense software with day-one OS updates, a long-lasting battery, and good-enough, modern internals. In a world full of wild gimmicks and smartphones with a thousand extras, Google is going with just the basics for $449. It’s not really what you would call “new” or “exciting,” but for basic usage, the Pixel 5a has everything you need in a smartphone and nothing you don’t.

On the surface, the Pixel 5a looks very similar to the previous release in this line. You get a good-enough, modern design with a slim bezel and a hole punch camera on the front, plus a gloriously flat, undistorted screen. There’s a wraparound plastic back that looks kind of plain, just like the Pixel 4a (it’s fine, but we still prefer the two-tone stylings of the Pixel 3a back). Being mid-range means you get some throwback features you might still like, like a rear capacitive fingerprint reader (as opposed to the in-screen fingerprint readers you’d get on a flagship phone) and a headphone jack.

SPECS AT A GLANCE
Pixel 5a
SCREEN 2400×1080 6.34-inches (413 ppi)

OLED, 20:9 aspect ratio

OS Android 11
CPU Eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

Two Cortex A76 cores and six Cortex A55 cores, up to 2.4GHz, 7nm

RAM 6GB
GPU Adreno 620
STORAGE 128GB
NETWORKING 802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, eSIM
PORTS USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
CAMERA Rear: 12.2MP main camera

Front: 8MP camera

SIZE 156.2×73.2×8.8 mm
WEIGHT 183g
BATTERY 4680mAh
STARTING PRICE $449
OTHER PERKS rear fingerprint reader, IP67 water resistance

There are some big additions this year, though. The first, which isn’t noticeable from the pictures, is that the Pixel 5a is a lot bigger than the 4a. You’ll see this not only in the screen size (6.34-inches versus 5.81-inches) but also in the body, with the Pixel 5a measuring 154.9 mm × 73.7 mm compared to the 144 mm × 69.4 mm of the 4a. The bigger body comes with the same primary benefit as all big phones—a bigger battery. The Pixel 5a is getting a huge upgrade to a 4680mAh battery, and that comes with a giant runtime advantage over its predecessor. I never had an issue lasting an entire day with the Pixel 4a battery, in fact you could easily go for two light-usage days.

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