The Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A are very similar.
They share the same cameras, both run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 chipset (which is a downgrade compared to the 855 in Pixel 4) and both run on Android 11.
Oddly enough, the new Pixel 4A’s screen is bigger (6.2 “versus 6.0”) – what do you get for that extra $ 200?
The Pixel 5 is waterproof and supports wireless and reverse wireless charging. It has a 90 Hz (around 90 frames per second) screen for smoother scrolling and gaming, which should also run better on 8 GB of RAM than the 6 GB of the Pixel 4A.
The Pixel 5 is also made of Gorilla Glass 6, which is surrounded by an aluminum frame and a back.
The Pixel 4A is comparatively made of plastic, but it also has a classic 3.5 mm headphone jack, which the Pixel 5 lacks.
Otherwise their design is the same. There’s no way to upgrade or expand the phone’s 128GB storage. Both have a fingerprint reader on the back and both swapped out their predecessors’ radar for an edge-to-edge screen with an 8-megapixel selfie camera in the hole in the upper left corner.
Google (finally) added a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens alongside the 12.2MP wide-angle lens on the back of the new Pixels.
On paper, that pales in comparison to the hardware in Samsung’s offerings, but as always, Google’s secret weapon is software.
Photos on the new pixels are still beautiful. Google images like Samsung’s look clear in contrast and saturation. Which photos look better depends on personal preference, but I’ve always appreciated the high-contrast, vibrant look of the pixel photos.
Google also improved the portrait mode, which now works at night, and added an AI lighting feature to enhance portraits (including older shots) in the mail.
Three different levels of stabilizer have been added to the pixel’s video to mimic cinematic motion that most people don’t use.
Google has removed much of what made the Pixel 4’s hardware unique to bring the Pixel 5’s price tag down.
The radar system that could tell when your hand was near and wake up the phone is gone, as is the fastest face unlock on a phone I’ve ever experienced. This face unlock was aided by Google’s own machine learning chip called Neural Core, which is also available.
Google insists that the Pixel 5 and 4A (with 5G) draw similar performance from the Snapdragon 765 chip, and I haven’t noticed any issues during my time with the phones.
What has been fixed is the old Pixel’s sad battery life. Google added “Extreme Battery Saver” but I’m happy to announce that I’ve never needed it. Both the Pixel 5 and the new 4A had no problem running entire workdays without charging until bedtime.
Google’s not-so-secret weapon has always been its software.
Not only will the Pixels start with Android 11, but they will also improve the Google Assistant and my personal favorite app, the recorder.
The wizard’s new “Hold For Me” feature is touted as a way of ending the most hated job of all and waiting on hold. I haven’t had a chance to try the feature for myself, but press a button and the new pixels will monitor the call for you and notify you when the person on the other line returns to chat.
The updated recorder not only transcribes the voices of people without an internet connection (which is a godsend in lengthy COVID-19 interviews), but you can now also delete words from the transcript and play them back in the audio. It’s really remarkable and easy to edit audio.
Google sacrificed some of its phone sacrifices to gamble in a new, cheaper market.
At $ 799, the new Pixel 4A is an easy sale: 5G with all the bells and whistles at the cheapest price.
The little extra you get on the Pixel 5 is somewhat negated by its smaller screen and the knowledge that this flagship has lost some wind of its sails.