Google's Pixel 5a launched last week, and while the company didn't immediately make any announcements regarding the future for the rest of its 2020 lineup, it didn't leave us wondering for too long.
In a statement to Digital Trends, Google confirmed that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G are no longer in production and should sell out "in the coming weeks following the launch of Pixel 5a" (via The Verge).
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We knew the Pixel 4a 5G was going to be eliminated due to its higher cost and weaker feature set than the Pixel 5a, but the Pixel 5 was less clear given that it does have a couple of advantages when compared to the newer model. However, as is the case with so many products over the last year, the chip shortage is a contributing factor to Google's decision.
The Pixel 5a will only be available in the U.S. and Japan due to Snapdragon 765G supplies. Given that the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 use that same chip, Google rightly decided to focus on the new, more affordable option.
This leaves open the question of what Pixel fans should consider buying now that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G are (very nearly) gone for good.
The obvious answer is the Pixel 5a. Google's newest Pixel easily outclasses the Pixel 4a 5G and comes shockingly close to the Pixel 5 in our faceoff, particularly when you consider that the now-discontinued flagship sold for $250 more.
At $449, Pixel 5a is a stellar value for any Pixel fan with still the best camera in that price range and three years of guaranteed software updates. The mid-tier performance, 60Hz display, and lack of wireless charging are all legitimate complaints, but depending on your needs and budget, they are tradeoffs worth making.
Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro
The other elephants in the room are the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, devices that Google has announced are coming later this fall. From a price standpoint, they will come in well above the Pixel 5a; we expect a $799 and $999 price point. But from everything we've seen to date, they should earn that higher price tag.
Some of the notable upgrades arriving on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro include Google's new custom Tensor chip, dramatically improved camera sensors, a distinctive new design, and possibly much faster 33W charging. If you sat out the 2020 Pixel lineup because it failed to live up to your flagship expectations, then the Pixel 6 is what you have been waiting for. We'll have to see if they can actually live up to the hype, but Google has managed to gather all of the pieces for a standout flagship lineup; we need to see if they can assemble those pieces properly.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Ready to abandon the Pixel ship? I would recommend waiting until we see the Pixel 6 as it was quickly apparent that 2020 was a lost year for Google's flagship phone aspirations. If you are ready to make a move, Samsung is a much more proven ship to climb aboard.
The Galaxy S21 lineup is excellent, but if you hope to stay in the same price range as the 2020 Pixel phones, the Galaxy S20 FE remains an outstanding option. It is still one of the best phones on the market and is often available for $550 or less. The Galaxy S20 FE gets you a versatile triple camera array, a 120Hz display, solid performance from the Snapdragon 865 processor, three years of major OS updates, four years of security updates, and wireless charging.
OnePlus 9 slots in at the same $699 price point as the Pixel 5 and offers several advantages over its now-discontinued competitor. The Snapdragon 888 remains the fastest (non-Apple) processor in any phone, the 120Hz display is gorgeous, and the 65W charger that you get in the box tops the phone up in about 30 minutes.
The two biggest drawbacks compared to the Pixel 5 are the camera performance and the software support. On the former, particularly in lower light, it can't compete with the Pixel 5. On the latter, it only gets two years of major OS updates, compared to three for the Pixel 5, and the updates are nowhere near as timely as Google's.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.