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Google’s best Pixel 5 model just leaked – and it isn’t actually a Pixel 5 at all

Published Sep 24th, 2020 10:02AM EDT
Pixel 4a 5G Specs
Image: 9to5Google

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  • Google is about to launch the Pixel 5 series, which will mark the start of an important new era for Google phones.
  • The Pixel 5 will not feature the high-end hardware we’re used to seeing on Pixel phones, because Google chose a mid-range 5G chip to power the handset and keep the cost down.
  • A new leak indicates that the Pixel 4a 5G might be the best Pixel 5 version this fall, as the handset will feature the same hardware as the more expensive handset from Google.

Google will unveil its next-generation of Pixel phones and other hardware products in less than a week, but we already know what to expect. The Pixel 5 phones will not be the high-end premium phones you might be anticipating, as Google made an unexpected compromise in 2020. The phone will be powered by a mid-range 5G-ready chip that won’t give the Pixel 5 a speed boost over last year’s Pixel 4 phone. And forget about the Pixel 5 competing against the iPhone 12, which will rock the world’s first 5nm processor. I’ve often told you that the Pixel 5 isn’t a worthy phone, especially considering rumors of a $699 price tag despite the mid-range performance. But recent reports said the phone might be even more affordable than that, starting at $649. The lower the price, the more interesting the phone becomes.

If you don’t mind the Pixel’s specs compromise this year, you should consider another compromise for the Pixel 5. This one concerns the build quality of the phone, but it will score you additional savings.

After the Pixel 5 leaked in all its glory a few days ago, it’s time for the Pixel 4a 5G to get a similar treatment. While Google will not sell it as a “Pixel 5” phone, it will deliver the same experience. Not only do the phones look identical according to the new Pixel 4a 5G press renders that 9to5Google first spotted, but they will also rock the same hardware inside. The phone is slightly bigger than the Pixel 5, but it has the same hole-punch all-screen design. A fingerprint sensor is placed on the back on both handsets, as Google ditched the more sophisticated 3D facial recognition system from the Pixel 4.

Pixel 4a 5G
Leaked render shows the plastic back of the Pixel 4a 5G complete with a dual-lens camera and fingerprint sensor. Image source: 9to5Google

Having the same Snapdragon 765G processor inside both Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 phones is a huge reason to go for the 4a. The performance will be the same and the phone is expected to sell for €499 in Europe compared to €629 for the Pixel 5. Google has already confirmed the phone will cost $499 in the US, and that’s a great price point for that set of specs on a 5G phone.

The Pixel 4a 5G will sport a 6.2-inch display with a 2340 x 1080 resolution. The phone will also pack 6GB of RAM, just like the Pixel 5, as well as the same camera setup. That’s another reason to go for the 4a model instead of the higher-priced Pixel 5. We’re looking at a 12.2-megapixel primary sensor and a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens on the back. The front camera packs an 8-megapixel sensor.

On top of all that, the piece de resistance for the Pixel 4a 5G is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which some people still really want.

Pixel 4a 5G
Leaked render shows the cheaper 5G Pixel phone that Google is about to launch. Image source: 9to5Google

What the Pixel 4a 5G won’t offer is a rear panel made of glass. You’re stuck with plastic, but that’s the compromise I was alluding to earlier. The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 will be almost identical phones when it comes to design and components, but the 4a won’t have the same build quality. To put it differently, the Pixel 4a 5G is to the Pixel 5 what the Galaxy S20 FE is to the Galaxy S20. A phone made of plastic that offers the same performance at a much better price. In the year of the novel coronavirus pandemic when everyone is looking to save some cash, the 4a is the Google phone to buy this season.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.