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Google Pixel 5A Review: Still the Best Deal in Android

Google Pixel 5A Review: Still the Best Deal in Android

Anyway, one of the main reasons I can recommend you to buy this phone is the performance. Like previous A-series Pixels, you can comfortably run just about any app or game, and you’ll rarely experience slowdowns. I was able to play one of the most graphically demanding mobile games, Genshin Impact, and it was hardly frustratingly slow. (Okay, I had to play it with the low graphics option, but the game still looked fantastic.)

Then there is the software. As is the case with Pixel phones from all walks of life, Google has included some really smart and useful features that you won’t find on any other line of phones. The call screen is my favorite; I can screen calls from unknown numbers so I never have to answer a pesky robocall. Another saving grace is the voice recording app, which automatically (and accurately!) Transcribes spoken voice recordings and saves them online. But my all-time favorite is Now Playing, which automatically detects music in your surroundings and lets you know the artist and song name, even if you’re offline. I’ve discovered so many artists with this feature that it’s the first thing I activate in every Pixel I use. I’ve rounded up all the smart features here in our Pixel guide if you want to learn more about the others.

The Pixel 5A comes with three years of security updates and three Android operating system upgrades, which is more than most budget competitors. Samsung is the only Android maker that recently started to overtake Google here, promising four years of security updates. Hopefully Google plans to match or exceed that, but at the very least, you’ll get additional software features each quarter as part of Google’s “Feature Drops,” which might even include new tips from the upcoming Google Pixel 6.

Unparalleled cameras

The 5A’s cameras are no different than the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G’s, but Google’s photo processing software continues to improve. This means you get flagship quality photos without spending a fortune. (This also includes some of the new video features Google introduced last year.) Seriously, I tested the Pixel 5A alongside Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3, a $ 1,000 phone, and I often prefer the results of Google.

Google Pixel 5A 5G, main camera. Pixel photo is really well exposed, keeps natural colors and is detailed.

 

Photography: Julian Chokkattu

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, main camera. It’s a solid photo, although the colors (like the sky) are a bit offbeat. It’s also not as detailed or as well exposed as the Pixel photo.

 

Photography: Julian Chokkattu

With Night Sight, a dedicated night mode in the camera app that stitches multiple images taken at different exposures together, you can capture detailed low-light photos that outperform images from phones that sell for twice the price. Put this thing on a tripod and point it at the sky in an area dark enough, and you can even take pictures of the stars with the Pixel’s Astrophotography mode. You’ll also be hard pressed to find a better ultra-wide camera in this price range. Most ultra-wide cameras on budget and mid-range phones fail dramatically after dark, but not the Pixel’s.

I also compared the camera to the $ 400 Moto G Stylus 5G, and while Motorola’s phone performed surprisingly well, the Pixel beat it in almost every test. It’s still the best camera under $ 500, and it’s another cornerstone of what makes the 5A such an attractive phone.

Google Pixel 5A, night vision. Google’s Night Sight mode is able to beat most of the competition in its price range for low-light photography. This photo is significantly more detailed than Motorola’s result, it doesn’t have as much noise, is more colorful and brighter too.

 

Photography: Julian Chokkattu

Moto G 5G Stylus, Night Vision. Motorola does a decent job here with its $ 400 phone, but the results are roughly what you’d expect from most budget to mid-range phones. The photo is a bit muddy and grainy, and just not as detailed.

 

Photography: Julian Chokkattu

Pixel crown

As I mentioned earlier, some features that you will find on other phones are missing here. One of them is a high screen refresh rate. Most phones have 60Hz screens, which means the display refreshes images 60 times per second. The current trend is to increase this frequency up to 90 or 120 Hz so that the screen displays 90 or 120 frames per second, which makes the screen more responsive. It’s a small but nice perk, and it’s becoming common even on phones under $ 300. Given that Google introduced a 90Hz display on the Pixel 5 last year, I expected to see it here. Alas.

There wasn’t much else that I missed. For the third year in a row, Google has proven that you don’t need to spend nearly $ 1,000 on a great smartphone. Of course, the Pixel 5A is not exciting. It doesn’t bend, there aren’t any flashy colors, and it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I would have liked to see the company push the bar. But if what you get is an exceptionally reliable phone that stays ahead of the pack, then it’s priceless.

Pre-orders for the Pixel 5A open today, and the phone fully hits the market on August 26. It works on all major US operators, although it is not sold directly by them. You get a charger in the box, but just be aware that this will be the last Pixel to include one. Google is on the side of Apple and Samsung and is removing the AC adapter from their phones in the interest of reducing electronic waste.

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