September 23, 2023

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5 phones you should consider

The Google Pixel 5a display with app icons on the pixel launcher home screen.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Pixel 5a

Table of contents

The Google Pixel 5a is finally official, serving as a sequel to the Pixel 4a 5G (not the Pixel 4a, confusingly). And it looks like the new phone brings a few sensible upgrades over last year’s device, such as an IP67 rating, a bigger battery, and a $50 price cut.

Do you like the idea of this phone but find yourself curious about what else is on the market? Maybe Google’s mid-ranger isn’t quite what you want to begin with? Or maybe you live outside the two launch markets — the US and Japan — and want to see what other great budget phones are out there? Either way, we’ve got you covered with some of the best Google Pixel 5a alternatives around.

Our verdict: Google Pixel 5a review

The best Google Pixel 5a alternatives

1. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G rear view — a Google Pixel 5a alternative

David Imel / Android Authority

Now that the Pixel 5a is official, one of the more obvious alternatives is its predecessor. Yes, the Pixel 4a 5G is still a great mid-ranger if you can find a good deal on it. In fact, it has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset and dual rear camera system (12MP main, 16MP ultra-wide) as the new Pixel device.

What’s the difference? Google Pixel 5a vs Pixel 4a 5G

The Pixel 4a 5G does lag behind the Pixel 5a in a few areas though, such as battery size, IP rating, and design (the new phone has a metal back compared to plastic here). Nevertheless, you’re still getting a clean take on Android, a few Pixel-exclusive software features, and three years of OS updates.

Other notable specs include a 3,885mAh battery, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that the Pixel 4a 5G has become hard to find.

2. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G screen view in the sun lying on a wooden table.

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It used to be the case that Samsung’s mid-range phones lagged far behind the competition, but the last few generations have been good devices in their own right. In fact, we’d say that the Galaxy A52 5G is one of the better mid-range phones in general.

What we thought: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review

The A52 5G doesn’t have the most horsepower, but the Snapdragon 750G narrowly bests the Pixel 5a’s Snapdragon 765G chipset. It also matches the Pixel phone’s IP67 rating and brings a 120Hz OLED screen that should be smoother than the 5a’s 60Hz OLED panel.

Samsung’s phone also offers a quad-camera system (64MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth), a 4,500mAh battery with 25W charging, and a 32MP selfie snapper. Toss in three years of OS updates and you’ve got one of the best Google Pixel 5a alternatives on the list.

3. OnePlus Nord 2

OnePlus Nord 2 close up on camera module.

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord 2 isn’t available in the US, but it’s a great alternative for consumers who can’t get their hands on the Pixel 5a in the first place. After all, the new Pixel is only available in two markets. In any case, OnePlus brought a number of welcome additions and changes to its second mainline Nord phone.

Our verdict: OnePlus Nord 2 review

Probably the biggest upgrade is the switch to a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset, with our own Speed Test G comparison showing a major improvement over the Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5a. So those looking for more horsepower should consider this device. Other notable Nord 2 features include a 6.43-inch 90Hz OLED panel, a 4,500mAh battery, and 65W wired charging.

OnePlus also went for a less is more approach with the cameras, offering a 50MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP monochrome sensor. But our own reviewers found that results weren’t exactly amazing from these snappers. So you should either get a Gcam port or consider the Pixel 5a if you absolutely must have a great camera experience.

4. Poco F3

Poco F3 back of phone in hand.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The Redmi K40 launched in China in early 2021, but the device came to global markets as the Poco F3. True to the Redmi and Poco ethos, this offers plenty of bang for your mid-range buck, making it one of the better Pixel 5a alternatives in global markets.

Check out: Poco F3 review

Some of the more notable Poco F3 specs include a Snapdragon 870 chipset, a 120Hz OLED screen, IP53 splash resistance, and a 4,520mAh battery with 33W charging. As for photography, you’ve got a 48MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide snapper, and a 5MP telemacro shooter.

Poco’s phone isn’t perfect though, as we thought the software was extremely buggy and unpolished in our review. Nevertheless, those who can’t get their hands on the Pixel 5a should add this device to their watchlist.

5. Apple iPhone SE 2020

iPhone SE back straight on.

David Imel / Android Authority

Don’t mind leaving the Android ecosystem? Then one device worth looking at is last year’s iPhone SE. Apple’s cheapest iPhone comes in at $400 and generally focuses on the essentials. That means you’ve got an A12 Bionic chipset that’s still extremely nippy, IP67 water resistance just like the Pixel 5a, and good image quality via the rear camera system. You even get wireless charging as well, which is missing from Google’s mid-range devices.

What we thought: iPhone SE 2020 review

Unfortunately, the iPhone SE 2020 does make plenty of compromises elsewhere. There’s the iPhone 8-style design that’s aged quite a bit, a single rear camera (no ultra-wide or telephoto option here), an LCD panel instead of an OLED screen, and a small battery.

Still, if you’re looking for a good mid-ranger, the iPhone SE 2020 does the job well enough. Plus, it’s the cheapest way to get into Apple’s ecosystem of services if you’re curious about it.

Honorable mentions

  • Google Pixel 5 ($699): The Pixel 5a has plenty in common with the Pixel 5, namely the rear camera system, chipset, and water resistance. But the late 2020 flagship does offer a few extras like a 90Hz screen, wireless charging, a nifty back cover featuring “bio-resin” (plastic) atop metal, and unlimited high-quality Google Photos storage. In saying so, the new Google phone actually has a much bigger battery and is $250 cheaper. But the flagship is still worth considering if you can find a good deal for it.
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE ($549): Google’s mid-ranger seems like a steal, but we’d argue that the Galaxy S20 FE is just as big a steal today as it frequently dips well below its $700 RRP. For the money, you’re getting a ton of flagship extras. There’s a Snapdragon 865 chipset, a 120Hz OLED screen, a versatile triple rear camera system, water resistance, and wireless charging. So Samsung’s device is worth considering if you want a high-end experience at a cheaper price.
  • Moto G100 ($499): The US doesn’t have the likes of Realme and Xiaomi on offer, but Motorola is one of the more notable alternatives in the market. And the G100 is a pretty solid Pixel 5a alternative at $499. For the cash, you get a more powerful Snapdragon 870 chipset, a 90Hz display, a 5,000mAh battery, solid triple camera setup (64MP main, 16MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, 3D ToF), and a nifty dual selfie camera system. There are downsides to the device compared to the Pixel 5a though, such as the lack of an OLED panel and an extremely questionable commitment to updates. But those who value horsepower should keep an eye on this one.

That’s it for our look at the best Google Pixel 5a alternatives. Are there any notable devices that you think should be on the list? Let us know via the comments below!