Explaining the Pixel 5a

Google just released the Google Pixel 5a. This is the phone that should continue the Pixel “a" series! Awesome… right?! Well, the phone isn’t new… in fact, it is practically a re-released Pixel 4a5g, that is a year old! In today’s post, I want to talk about the 5a from a marketing and line-up perspective. We are going to see why Google released a phone that seems so familiar and the complex issues regarding that decision. Before I go any further, I want to note that I, sadly, do not have a Pixel 5a… Luckily, I am a fan of the Pixel line-up and use the 4a as my daily driver phone!

Specs:

I want to start by comparing the specs of the 4a5g and the 5a…

There we are, specs from the Google Store side by side. I just have to comment on how funny it is that Google put “touchscreen” in the 5a specs, but not the 4a5G or 4a… Now what are the main differences.

4a5G
Price: $499
Colours: Black & White
Screen: 6.2 inches
Aspect ratio: 19.5:9

5a
Price: $449
Colours: Mostly Black
Screen: 6.34 inches
Aspect ratio: 20:9

4a
Price: $349
Colours: Black, Blue, & Limited white through Verizon.
Screen: 5.8 inches
Aspect ratio: 19.5:9

Even if the Google Store doesn’t think so…

Left: 4a5g — Middle: 5a — Right: 4a

The 5a is the biggest of the phones. The 5a sits in between the 4a and 4a5g at a… um… not-so-clever price point. I don’t know why Google would price the phone like this, considering the 4a at a lower price performed better than the 3a. It may be because of hardware price, but I don’t think it is going to sell as well at this price.

Left: 4a5g — Middle: 5a — Right: 4a

So, the battery. The 5a has a bigger battery than the 4a5g, and it is less expensive! If Google still sold the 4a5g, I’d say it’s a bad move to make it inconsistent, but since Google doesn’t sell the 4a5g, I don’t think it matters.

4a5g, out of stock

I personally think that it is odd to have all three phones have the same amount of storage… considering the price range, it doesn’t matter but, It would make sense to have a more expensive phone have more storage and a less expensive have less.

Left: 4a5g — Middle: 5a — Right: 4a

Google is still using the incredible custom Titan security chip but the Pixel 6 will not, upon release, since it will be built into Tensor. While on the topic of chips, I find it very interesting that Google used the same 765g in both the 4a5g and 5a… It does keep the cost down, but I would have thought that an upgrade could have been fit in.

Let’s talk cameras… the 4a5g and 5a use the same set of cameras, with the main sensor being the same as the 4a. The 5a does not have laser autofocus like the 4a5g. I don’t think it is an issue since using the 4a, there are rarely autofocus issues. The 8mp selfie cam is the same as other pixels.

The phone has all the features that can be found on an up-to date Pixel phone. The main difference is the hardware, but even that is very similar to the 4a5G with the main difference being the battery. Between the 4a and 5a, there of course are some more changes. Now it is important to see the why.

Why?
Now, it is important that we see exactly why this phone was released. The obvious reason is that it needed to continue the Pixel “a” series. Great, but Google has innovated and changed the “a” series between phones with the 3a and 4a, it is odd to see a change. The big change likely should have been a version of the Tensor chip.

According to MKB (Marques Brownlee) and his time with Goolgers, the Pixel 5 SHOULD have been the phone that debuted Tensor. Whatever the issue, Covid or infrastructure, they couldn’t meet the deadline and that is why the Pixel 5 was not a flagship, despite having great features. The same reason is why the 5a, is not exactly a huge upgrade. Google needed to continue the “a” series because they do likely have plans for the series in the future. They probably originally had planned to use a version of Tensor in the 5a, but ended up not being able to because debuting a new incredible chip on a budget phone just doesn’t work and would take sales from the Pixel 6. So, the main issue is that… Google was late! They didn’t want to miss an “a” phone, so we ended up with a phone bringing minor upgrades.

Marketing:
Now, let’s get into the marketing behind the device because I do have a lot to say. The Pixel 5a is part of Google’s plan to :market for the mainstream”. What I mean by that is, Google no longer wants to only have a market-share percent in the single digits, they want to break into the double digits. Well, how can I make these assumptions? By looking at the phones and release ads, it is very apparent that Team Pixel is taking the next step in marketing phones. I truely believe that Google has more potential to take on Apple than Samsung does. You may know that Samsung sales are declining and if Google can get some Samsung users (like me) before Xiaomi gets them, then Google could make it into the main-stream market.

Now, to prove my point, let’s take a look at those trailers! I am going to look at the 4a trailers vs the 5a trailers. Each phone has 2 initial release trailers. Let’s start with the 4a:

Okay, now for the equivalent Pixel 5a trailer.

Notice how the 5a trailer was also advertising the new Pixel case series. Google used to only do fabric cases, but these cases look like the same polycarbonate as the phone’s body.

Now, for the even more intriguing trailer. Let’s start with the 4a…

Notice how this trailer showed off the phone's features, but all through 3d renders.

Now let’s compare that to the 5a trailer, you may see where I am going with this:

You probably see what I mean now! Yeah, that trailer had high production value and is a lot more flashy than the 4a’s computer generated trailer! It is the same voice as other trailers, and it is a perfect advertising voice, the difference is in the words that are being said and the way the ad comes together from added humour to an overall better production. Google is really ramping up advertising and I think that the plan is for it to get the Google Pixel name out there so that when the Pixel 6 comes out, people may actually be more receptive. In my opinion, Google is changing their strategy and this phone is going to see if their plan works so that when the Pixel 6 comes out, Google will know the best advertising method and get as many phones out as possible to make up for the Pixel 6 expenses.

Conclusion:
I am wildly excited for the future of Pixel phones! I hope that you get what I was trying to accomplish in this post, the phone on the surface seems like no thought was put into it but, once you look deeper, Google seems to have a strategy to all of this. Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed this post, an applaud would be awesome! You can also follow for future posts like this one!

-Digital Wonders & Smiles

I operate a small photography blog on WordPress and use Medium as a sort of second blog! You’ll find extra content about tech, photography, and more here!