Pixel 5a with 5G gives Android a $449 heavy-hitter

Google's Pixel 5a with 5G was hardly the best-kept secret, but that doesn't mean a $449 Android phone isn't worth getting excited about. Latest to join the Pixel line-up, the Pixel 5a pairs key Pixel 5 features with a much more affordable price, not to mention the promise of first-dibs on Android 12 when it's ready later in the year.

Although the Pixel a-series is usually pared back compared to the more expensive phones they're based on, the Pixel 5a is actually bigger in a number of ways. The display is a 6.34 OLED panel running at FHD+ 2400 x 1080 resolution, large than the Pixel 5's 6-inch screen.

The battery is bigger, too, at 4,620 mAh. Google clearly doesn't want to fall foul of the same criticism that plagued the Pixel 4. There's also an Extreme Battery Mode that – once you've picked your most essential apps – shuts down the rest to squeeze two days of life out of a single charge. When you do get a chance to top the battery up, there's wired fast charging with an 18W USB-C adapter in the box, though no Qi wireless charging support.

On the back, the same cameras as the Pixel 5 offers can be found. A 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel main camera with f/1.7 lens and OIS is alongside a 117-degree 16-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.2). On the front there's an 8-megapixel fixed-focus selfie camera.

The same camera features, like Night Sight, astrophotography, Cinematic Pan, and distortion-correction for faces in ultra-wide shots are present and correct. Portrait Light in portrait mode allows in-fill lighting to be added retrospectively. There's up to 4K video capture at 30/60fps.

In a first for an a-series Pixel, there's IP67 water-proofing, though hopefully you like green-tinted-black because that's the only color option. A lick of brighter plastic for the power button lifts things a little, but for more attention-grabbing hues you'll need one of Google's official Pixel 5a cases. There are four finishes – Black Moss, Maybe Moon, Likely Lime, and Partially Pink – all priced at $29.

Each case uses 75-percent post-consumer recycled plastic for the inner layer, and overall more than 34-percent of the plastic by weight is recycled.

Inside, there's Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G – again, just as in the Pixel 5 – here paired with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. We'll have to wait for the Pixel 6 for Google's homegrown Tensor chipsets. There's dual-SIM support and 5G, though only for Sub-6 networks, not mmWave 5G. The Pixel 5a will work on all major US carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, USCC, Charger, C-Spire, Visible, and others.

You won't, however, find it in their stores. Preorders of the Pixel 5a with 5G kick off today, with the phone priced at $449, but only through the Google Store online and Google Fi. In Japan, it'll be offered at SoftBank. Deliveries are expected to begin from August 26, and to help you figure out if it's worth your money we already have a full review.