Google's latest Pixel is seriously impressive for a $449 phone

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You don't need to spend close to $1,000 for a smartphone with great cameras and long battery life. Yes, the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 deliver a terrific experience, but your money can go pretty far at $500 or less.
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Enter the Pixel 5a with 5G — Google's latest affordable device joins the $349 4a and $499 4a 5G. The 5a with 5G is $449 and up for preorder now, with deliveries starting on Aug. 26. And we've spent the last week with the latest affordable Pixel smartphone.

It feels inherently like a Pixel, but it's essential to know its place in the market. The 5a offers solid — if not great — performance, with a similar processor to the Pixel 4a. Most importantly, the cameras perform well with the expected shooting modes, complete with features that only a Pixel can offer. So does it pay to spend less? Let's dive in to the Pixel 5a with 5G.

The who, what and how

Who this is for: The Pixel 5a with 5G is for someone who wants an affordable Android phone that can take great photos, last all day and not get bogged down by a heavy user interface.

What you need to know: As a whole, the 5a with 5G is very similar to the 4a with 5G. It uses the same processor, has a similar build and opts for the same three camera lenses. Things get better with a larger battery and, at times, faster performance. The Pixel 5a with 5G only supports the Sub-6 network standard, though, and not mmWave. This means no super-fast 5G speeds, but rather connecting to a network that provides more room for 5G devices to stay connected. Those who need both network standards should look at the 4a with 5G.

How this compares: In terms of performance and feature set, the 5a with 5G outweighs most of the competition from other Android devices even with the older Snapdragon 765G processor inside. Google's customizations and choice of clean Android deliver an experience that's mostly smooth sailing. Camera performance could struggle a bit at times, especially with lower-lighting shots, but the device still managed to deliver a great image nearly every time. For $449.99, Google offers a lot more with less compromise than competing devices like the $239.99 OnePlus Nord N200. The $349.99 iPhone SE still delivers…
Jacob Krol
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