Pixel 5a review
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The Pixel 5a review
The Pixel 6 is just around the corner. But before Google brings it and its Tensor mobile chip, the company is updating its entry-level offering with the $449 Pixel 5a. The whole point of the “a” family is to offer the basics at a reasonable price without sacrificing too much of the Pixel experience in the process. That means a relatively clean version of Android with a ton of AI tricks and a heavy focus on photography.
But apparently Google feels like it’s more or less nailed that formula with the Pixel 4a 5G, because the 5a is basically the same. phone. (Note: The Pixel 5a isn’t a direct successor to the 4a, which was a much smaller device.) There are some differences — most notably the addition of IP67 waterproofing — but most of the customizations are extremely minor. Even the processor and RAM have not changed. So if we said back in October 2020 you could do better, what does that mean for the 5a in Fall 2021?
The $449 Pixel 5a features 128 GB storage and 6 GB RAM. It comes in one color option, usually black. You can buy one unlocked from the Google Store and through the Google Fi wireless provider. Here’s our guide On how to pre-order the Pixel 5a. As with the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 5a’s biggest rival remains last year’s iPhone SE (2020), which starts at $399 but has half the storage space of the Pixel 5a (64GB). The cheaper iPhone also does it with a single camera versus two, and an LCD screen instead of an OLED panel. The Pixel 5a is only available in the US and Japan, possibly due to the chip shortage that sparked rumors of the phone canceled at the beginning of this year. At this point, we don’t know if Google will expand the availability of the Pixel 5a in the future.
With the exception of the upcoming Pixel 6, Google’s design language has been very minimalistic. Dare I say it’s downright spartan in many ways, but it’s also quite functional. The Pixel 5a follows in that vein, looking like a modestly large plastic handset. Nothing about the phone stands out, except maybe its mint-colored strength button. And maybe that’s exactly how it should be. I like looking chic phones like the ones from Samsung or OnePlus, but I’m also a fan of functionality over beauty. The Pixel 5a won’t draw attention, but that’s not what Google was aiming for. Instead, this is a $449 phone that focuses entirely on software. As you will soon see, that largely translates into extraordinary camera bravery.
Like other A-series Pixels before it, the Pixel 5a still has a 3.5mm headphone jack. I still love this decision, and I think many of you will too. While Bluetooth headphones and earbuds have gotten really good, having a headphone jack is still a must for many people, not to mention cars so you can get the phone with an auxiliary cable.
The sound quality on the Pixel 5a is very good thanks to stereo speakers. The top speaker is nestled into the earcup, which is a barely noticeable crevice above the screen. Paired with the speaker on the bottom, the Pixel 5a can get very loud and snappy. While it lacks the bass and warmth you would find in headphones (or higher quality) phones), the 5a has a better sound than most others phones in this price range.
Google is pretty proud of the Pixel 5a’s display, calling it the largest ever on a bezel-less Pixel, which includes the Pixel 4a, 4a, 5G, and 5. At 6.34 inches, the full-HD OLED display on the Pixel 5a is vibrant and bright. It’s not the most impressive panel we’ve ever seen, but it’s very good nonetheless, especially at this price. One thing I really appreciate is how easily I can see what’s on the screen when I’m in direct sunlight. As I wandered around taking photos for this Pixel 5a review, I found myself surprised and impressed because I could see the photos I had just taken. Normally I have to look for shade to see the photos clearly enough. Not so with the 5a, and not every phone that is about my desk can claim that.
Just like the rest of the phone, the Pixel 5a’s screen gets the job done. Neither terrible nor great, the screen is average in the best way. One area that has definitely improved over the Pixel 4a is the viewing angles. With the 4a you should start to notice distortion pretty quickly when looking at the phone from a corner. I didn’t run into such a problem with the Pixel 5a. In fact, the screen has fantastic viewing angles and little visible distortion until you get closer to 180 degrees, like most phones.
The Pixel 5a is like most other Android phones out there, in the sense that you can only achieve maximum brightness if Adaptive Brightness is enabled. In our tests, the phone peaked at 501-nit, which is surprisingly lower than the Pixel 4a’s 681 nits and the iPhone SE’s 651-nit average. But as I mentioned above, I had no trouble viewing the screen in direct sunlight.
Adaptive Brightness uses AI to judge how you like the brightness of your screen under certain lighting conditions. what you need to train for feature, which I doubt most people do – I leave my phones adjust automatically. On some previous Pixels, a few people (including Adam Ismail in his Pixel 4a review) reported a general sense of indecision with Adaptive Brightness. I ran into this problem on my Pixel 4 XL which would vary wildly while sitting in one place. I have not noticed this frustrating issue with the Pixel 5a.
The biggest highlight with the Pixel 5a this year is the addition of the 16MP, 117-degree ultrawide camera, which joins the primary 12.2MP shooter. Last year’s Pixel 4a only had the single 12.2MP camera. Up on the front is the 8 MP selfie cameracamera of the Pixel 5a nestled in the top left corner of the screen in a punch cutout. This is a Pixel, so you’d expect the photography experience to be really good, especially considering that the 5a has almost the same hardware as the Pixel 5. As you’ll see below, the cameraThe Pixel 5a lives up to that expectation and then some — they’re the best you can find under $500.
When testing the Pixel 5a against an iPhone SE, you can immediately see the differences in approach between the two phones in this photo of some flowers. The Pixel 5a kept a more natural color profile, while the iPhone SE looks a little too saturated and fantastic. The iPhone image also looks too cool, especially given the overall warm tones of the daylight in this scene. I prefer the Pixel’s shot.
To see how good either phone vibrant colors captured, I took a photo of this pick-up truck. The blue is very bright, so dazzling in direct light. The Pixel again opted for a more gloomy look to complement the cloudy sky above. The blue paint of the truck is still nice in the image of the Pixel. However, with the iPhone SE, Apple’s phone turned around up saturation again. You can also see evidence of this in the grass behind the truck, and even on the lighter part of the wooden fence in the background.
The Pixel 5a can record video up to 4K at 60 frames per second. Google also includes what it calls Cinematic Pan for capturing audio-less video clips. This effectively slows down the panning in your video clip and adds a more artistic, cinematic effect.
Compared to the iPhone SE, the Pixel 5a’s video is simply better. Colors are more accurate, microphone quality is much better and the new from Google phone focuses faster on nearby objects. Even the stabilization on the Pixel 5a is good, comparable to that of the SE. Google has been getting better and better with video recording lately, and the 5a is definitely one of the best pixels yet at this task.
The Pixel 5a is a serious step up compared to its predecessor in terms of hardware. With a Snapdragon 765G (same system-on-chip as last year’s $699 Pixel 5 and $499 Pixel 4a 5G) and 6GB of RAM, this is a pretty powerful one. phone for many tasks. As far as Android phones Go, the Pixel 5a is pretty middle of the road. The 765G isn’t a bad chip, and it’s an improvement over the Pixel 4a’s Snapdragon 730G system-on-chip. But the Snapdragon 765G doesn’t last up well against the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE. Apple’s silicon magic makes the $399 iPhone SE a little powerhouse that’s even the best Android phones struggle to match. At $449, however, the Pixel 5a is about as powerful as Android devices in this price range.
Playing games on the Pixel 5a was a nice experience, although some of the more intense titles such as Asphalt 9 and Genshin Impact phone to heat up. Lowering the graphics settings can help, especially with dropped frames, but the Pixel 5a isn’t quite adept at gaming the way more powerful flagships do. phones are.
The Pixel 5a has the largest battery we’ve ever seen in a Google Pixel. And that 4,680mAh power pack is helping the Pixel 5a get into one of the better times we’ve seen from a Pixel. phone on our battery test. That’s not a high bar to erase, though, as Pixels tend to falter in our test of web surfing over a cellular connection. To that end, the Pixel 5a was able to stay powered up for 9 hours and 45 minutes, which is about the average for smartphones. That beats the Pixel 4a’s time by nearly an hour, and it’s about 30 minutes longer than the iPhone SE’s result.
Given Google’s historical difficulties during our test, it’s nice to see that the phone at least close to average performance. But given the size of the battery, we wish the Pixel 5a had gotten closer to landing at our best phone battery life list.
Charging Pixel 5a is less encouraging. With a max of 18W, the Pixel 5a got a deflated phone up to 23% in 15 minutes and up to 43% in 30 minutes. That handily beats the iPhone SE’s charging times, which only reached 29% in 30 minutes in our tests. However, there is no wireless charging onboard the Pixel 5a, unlike Apple’s budget iPhone.
Wrap up Pixel 5a review
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