When Google unveiled the Pixel 5 alongside the Pixel 4a 5G at its Launch Night In event on September 30, I was perplexed. On paper and in pictures, the $699 Pixel 5 made little sense compared to the $499 Pixel 4a 5G, not to mention the Pixel 4 XL. I struggled to understand why Google made a smaller phone with very similar specs for more money.
I might have been a little hasty. After spending a few days testing the Pixel 5 alongside the Pixel 4a 5G, Google’s game plan is a whole lot clearer. I’m still not convinced Google needs two 5G phones in its lineup—and I’d like the Pixel 5 a whole lot more if it were $100 cheaper—but I’m no longer sure the Pixel 5 is the superfluous model. The Pixel 4a 5G may seem like a no-brainer purchase for $200 less than the Pixel 5, but the difference between the two phones is a lot bigger than a couple of gigs of RAM and some aluminum.