- Jul 27, 2015
the big news today (and the main selling point of the Pixel A-series) is the price, which is $449, or $100 more than the Pixel 4a. Google's blog post includes a phone comparison sheet showing its lineup as the Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, and Pixel 4a, so hopefully the $349 Pixel 4a is sticking around.
Part of the reason for the price increase is that the Pixel 5a is a bigger phone, with a 6.34-inch display and 73.7 mm width compared to the Pixel 4a's 5.8-inch display and 69.4 mm width. Another big change is the addition of IP67 dust and water resistance, which means the phone should survive submersion in 3 feet of water (1 meter) for 30 minutes. As with the Pixel 5, the Pixel 5a's body is metal coated in plastic, as opposed to the pure plastic body of the Pixel 4a. We didn't see the appeal of this construction in the Pixel 5, but the new phone is presumably stronger now.
Specs include a Snapdragon 765G (that's a 7 nm chip with two Cortex A76 cores and six Cortex A55 cores), 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and the biggest battery of any Pixel: 4680 mAh. The main camera is 12.2 MP and looks like the same Sony IMX363 sensor that Google has used for the past four years. There's a 16 MP wide-angle and an 8 MP front camera. Oh yeah, and the headphone jack is sticking around for at least one more year. If there's a disappointment with the Pixel 5a, it's the 60 Hz display, which is looking pretty slow in a world where 90 Hz and 120 Hz are often the norm. We're not talking about high-end phones, either. OnePlus sells a 90 Hz phone in the US for $180, while the Galaxy A52 5G has a 120 Hz display and costs $500 in the US. (Of course, there are better deals internationally, but the Pixel 5a is not competing in those markets.)
The Pixel 5a distribution will be even smaller; Google officially lists only the US and Japan. For comparison, a top-shelf launch from Samsung or Apple usually debuts in around 70 countries and often expands to 100+ countries in the subsequent months. Google is also falling behind when it comes to the phone's support lifecycle. The Pixel 5a will get three years of major updates and three years of security updates, while Samsung now offers three years of major updates and four years of security updates, even on cheaper phones in the Pixel 5a price range. Samsung will be a lot slower than Google at shipping these phones out, but it feels wrong that the creator of Android doesn't offer the longest support life cycle anymore.