Google’s muddled 2020 release schedule has many people confused: should you get the Pixel 4a or wait for the Pixel 5 with 5G? Or, get the Pixel 4a 5G…
The Pixel 4a is now official. You can read all about the Pixel 4a’s specs and updates inside our coverage. The 4a, if you don’t want to read that other post, is a pretty solid update over its predecessor, the Pixel 3a.
The Pixel 4a is smaller, has a larger battery, improved internal specs, a better camera (it’s unit from the Pixel 4), and it ships with more RAM (6GB) and more internal storage (128GB). Oh, and the Pixel 4a is cheaper than the Pixel 3a – prices start from £349/$349.
Not bad, right?
Where things get a little more complicated, however, is that Google also confirmed that it will be releasing a Pixel 4a 5G model and the flagship Pixel 5 later on this year – around October, most likely. And this, obviously, muddies the water somewhat.
Instead of having one or two great phones, Google will have three (maybe four potential options, if there is a Pixel 5 XL model) by the close of 2020. With this in mind, we thought it prudent to offer up some insight on the main differences between the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a, and the Pixel 4a 5G.
Let’s start with the Pixel 4a, as that phone is already official.
The Pixel 4a – The One To Get If You Don’t Want 5G
If you don’t want or care about 5G, the Pixel 4a is the one to go for – it’s the cheapest Pixel phone you can buy in 2020, unless you go with an older model like the Pixel 3a XL, and it packs in plenty of performance. You have an OLED display, a brilliant camera, and a decent amount of RAM and storage.
For the budget-conscious, the Pixel 4a is a near-perfect phone. It’s simple, refined, and cheap enough to buy outright. And because it’s a Pixel, you’ll be first in line as soon as a new version of Android drops (at least for a couple of years, anyway). For all intents and purposes, the Pixel 4a is the handset I see selling in the highest volume.
The Pixel 4a 5G – The One To Get If You Want 5G
The Pixel 4a 5G is basically exactly the same as the Pixel 4a, only this phone will support 5G. You will have all the same specs and hardware, and the design of the phone will be exactly the same.
The Pixel 4a 5G will cost more than the standard Pixel 4a; you’ll pay $499 apparently, whereas the standard, non-5G model retails for $349.99. If you want 5G connectivity and all the benefits it brings, an extra $50 isn’t too much to ask.
The only downside to the Pixel 4a 5G is that you’ll have to wait until the fall for it to be available, whereas the Pixel 4a is now up for pre-order. Again, if 5G is important to you, and you must have a Pixel phone, then, again, this shouldn’t be too much of a deal-breaker.
The Pixel 5 – The One To Get If You Want A Flagship
The Google Pixel 5 will be Google’s de facto flagship release for 2020. But unlike with the Pixel 4 range, it is starting to look like Google will only release one Pixel 5 handset in 2020 – the standard, non-XL Pixel 5.
This might not be the case, but there is very little chatter about the Pixel 5 XL online – we’ve seen barely any leaks about it. Additional reports have claimed the Pixel 5 will feature the largest display used to date on a Pixel phone; it’s said to be a 6.6in OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate.
The display will be built by Samsung, apparently, and will either be used on an XL model, if one exists or solely on the Pixel 5, should it become a singular release. It’s all slightly up in the air at the moment. Still, there is one really cool thing about the Pixel 5 that should get everybody excited…
The Pixel 5 will apparently cost about $200 less than the Pixel 4, which retailed for $799 in the USA. According to leaked information, Google is keen to bring the Pixel 5 to market with a price of $699 – AKA the iPhone 11 sweet spot. If true, this would make the handset a lot more appealing to floating voters.
How has Google managed to knock $200 off the Pixel 5’s price? Simple: it’s using cheaper chipsets – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset to be precise. This CPU is not as powerful as the Snapdragon 865 which you’ll find inside the Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro, but it does cost less – and this saving can be passed onto the consumer.
The other area where the Pixel 5 will differ from the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G is to do with cameras; both the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a will use dual-lens cameras, but the Pixel 5 will use newer, more advanced lenses and this, combined with Google’s insane machine learning and image signal processing abilities, should translate into a vastly superior camera setup.
So, to conclude: the Pixel 5 will have a better camera, a better display, a bigger battery, and superior internal spec compared to the Pixel 4a. Sadly, however, the Pixel 5 is almost certain to fall short of matching current releases like the OnePlus 8 and OPPO Find X2 Pro when it comes to overall performance, as Google is using an inferior chipset in its 2020 flagship.
Either way, whatever happens, Google’s Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G will get a release date later this year, during the fall (or Autumn, if you’re in the UK).
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.