The flagship phone for Google is packing 5G, and it’s not alone, as the 5G Pixel strategy includes not one, but two models under a grand.
If you thought 2019 would be the year that 5G would set the world on fire, sadly ’twas not to be. That honour is being bestowed upon 2020, a weird year — thanks Coronavirus — but a year that is producing some interesting devices.
We’re seeing 5G fall in price this year, and while you can still find high-priced 5G phones, if you want a phone that latches onto the high-speed 5G networks run by Australia’s biggest telcos, you clearly have a lot of options this year.
This week at its virtual launch event for its Pixel devices, Google has offered up a glimpse of what phone buyers can look forward to in Australia stores, both online and off, with the Pixel 4a with 5G and the Pixel 5. Both offer 5G and both are Pixels, with the 4a with 5G extending the otherwise excellent Pixel 4a we checked out recently, while the 5G does, too, albeit in a slightly different way.
So what are the differences: what makes the Pixel 4a different from the Pixel 4a with 5G, and then different again from the Google Pixel 5?
Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4a with 5G
First the Pixel 4a, which is already such a solid contender for phone of the year, offering so much in a small package, albeit without the 5G.
If you desperately want what Google’s offering in the Pixel 4a, but you want it with 5G, this one seems pretty self explanatory, but it’s also… not.
A little bit bigger and boasting another camera, the Pixel 4a with 5G uses a 6.2 inch Full HD+ OLED screen over the standard 4a’s 5.8 inch, making it a bigger phone. It features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, a 5G capable chip we’ve seen in a few 5G mid-range phones this year, and will arrive with a 3885mAh battery and an extra camera, offering the 12 megapixel from the Pixel 4a alongside a 16 megapixel ultra-wide.
You’ll find 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, just like the Pixel 4a, but there’s no water resistance or wireless charging, and beyond the extra camera, larger screen, bigger battery, new chip, and 5G, the Pixel 4a with 5G is like the Pixel 4a with 5G.
Essentially, it’s a marginally better Pixel 4a, which was already a pretty compelling package overall.
Then there’s the Pixel 5
Google’s 2020 flagship isn’t the Pixel 4a with 5G, though. That’s a smaller model, sibling to the Pixel 5.
This one is Google’s big phone for 2020, though it’s one that feels like it undoes some of what we saw last year. For instance, there’s no choice between a regular or big model this year, there’s just the Google Pixel 5, offering a 6 inch Full HD+ OLED screen with the 90Hz Smooth Display technology introduced in the Pixel 4 range and missing in the 4a models.
It’s not the only missing feature, though: Google has removed the Soli radar technology for wireless controls, and has taken away the face unlock in the Pixel 5. Basically, it’s back to what worked best in the new Pixel, with a fingerprint sensor on the back and using your phone the way you know how: touching it.
Inside, there’s a Snapdragon 765G 5G-capable processor, paired with an extra couple of gig of RAM, working to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, sitting on top a slightly larger battery — 4080mAh — with both a 12 megapixel standard camera and a 16 megapixel ultra-wide.
They’re new cameras overall, offering a wide lens versus the telephoto from before, and support for night mode in the soft-background portrait mode, something both the Pixel 4a with 5G and the Pixel 5G get. They even get a video look inspired by the smooth panning filmmakers use in professional cameras, something Google calls “Cinematic Pan”.
And on top of this, the Pixel 5G will also get wireless charging and water resistance, leaving both of those high-end features to its high-end phone. You may recall these were the only feature we really missed in our review of the Google Pixel 4a, but given the price point, were hardly deal-breakers.
So what’s different between the Pixel 4a with 5G and the newer flagship, the Pixel 5?
Pixel 4a with 5G vs Pixel 5
The answer here isn’t much, as the Pixel 4a with 5G and Pixel 5G are very close.
You’ll find the same cameras, similar screen sizes, similar batteries, and the same focus on 5G, but with marginally different features.
Essentially, while the Pixel 5 focuses on what Google believes should be enough in a 5G phone for 2020, the Pixel 4a with 5G cuts back on the price a little if you don’t need water resistance, wireless charging, or a 90Hz display. There’s also a difference in materials, with the Pixel 4a with 5G being a plastic phone, while the Pixel 5 uses recycled aluminium in its construction.
They are close, but not the same, and there’s even a bit of a savings in price if you’re looking for that, too.
Australian pricing and availability for the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a with 5G
In Australia, the Google Pixel 4a with 5G will see a $200 addition on the $599 cost of the Pixel 4a, retailing for $799 when it launches in November in Just Black (seriously, that’s the name of the black colour) from JB HiFi, Officeworks, Telstra and Harvey Norman, and the Google Store.
Meanwhile, the Google Pixel 5 will sit at $999 when it launches on October 15, offering it from every major telco — Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone — with JB HiFi, Officeworks, and Harvey Norman also ranging it alongside the Google Store in Just Black (yep) and the green-ish colour that is Sorta Sage.