Pixel 4A 5G is the unusual $500 phone that gives you 5G without skimping on the camera



The $499 Pixel 4A 5G has the same cameras as its $699 Pixel 5 sibling. 

Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

In a world where nearly every handset maker is selling a 5G phone, Google did something unusual: It made a less expensive 5G device that doesn’t compromise on the features consumers care about the most — especially the camera.  

The company’s new $499 Pixel 4A 5G, unveiled Wednesday, packs in the same superfast 5G connectivity as Google’s new $699 Pixel 5 flagship, as well as the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 128GB of storage and a fingerprint sensor on the back. Importantly, the camera setup is identical, with both phones sporting an 8-megapixel front-facing lens and two rear cameras: a standard 12.2-megapixel sensor and a 16-megapixel ultrawide camera. 

“Some people think that to get all the benefits of 5G at an affordable price, there needs to be a compromise on some of our core features like camera,” Soniya Jobanputra, product manager of Pixel, said during Wednesday’s press conference. “But that’s not true.”

When it comes to other specs, the 4A 5G even has a bigger, 6.2-inch screen than the Pixel 5’s 6-inch display, and it still comes with a headphone jack. The main advantages of the Pixel 5 over the 4A 5G are IP68 water resistance, a 90Hz refresh rate on the display, reverse wireless charging and a slightly bigger camera, all features that typically don’t spur consumers to upgrade. 

The top reasons people generally buy new phones are better screens, batteries and cameras. Waterproofing and wireless charging — the two most noticeable ways the Pixel 5 differs from the 4A 5G — don’t entice consumers to upgrade. That could cause many would-be buyers to opt for the cheaper of the Pixels.  

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