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For a mid-range phone, should you get a Pixel 4a or the older Galaxy A51

Google Pixel 4a

Outstanding camera

pixel-4a-render-front-back.jpg

$350 at Amazon

Pros

  • Compact form factor
  • Fantastic camera
  • Clean software with meaningful features
  • Three years of platform updates
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • Limited global availability
  • Plain design

The Pixel 4a sets the standard for mid-range cameras. Google is offering almost the same caliber of photos as the regular Pixel 4, and that makes the Pixel 4a a standout option. You get three years of platform updates, a clean software interface with useful additions, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The compact design is ideal for one-handed use, and if you take a lot of photos, the Pixel 4a is the obvious choice.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Powerhouse

galaxy-a51-render.jpg?itok=6Dq1nvjM

$389 at Amazon

Pros

  • Gorgeous design
  • Vibrant AMOLED panel
  • 48MP camera at the back
  • Excellent battery life
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • Macro lens is mediocre
  • Software updates still an issue
  • Older phone

The Galaxy A51 excels at the basics, and the modern design allows the device to stand out in this segment. With a large 6.5-inch AMOLED screen, the phone is ideal for streaming videos and playing games, and the 4,000mAh battery lasts all day without any issues. The camera isn’t as good as the Pixel 4a, but if you want a large screen and excellent battery life, the Galaxy A51 is a great pick.

The Pixel 4a and the Galaxy A51 are two of the best options you’ll find in the mid-range segment right now, but the two devices differ greatly in just about every area. The Pixel 4a delivers Google’s singular vision of offering the best camera for under $500, while the Galaxy A51 builds on Samsung’s latest design language and comes with a vibrant AMOLED screen that’s great for streaming videos. Let’s take a look at all the differences, and figure out if you should buy the Pixel 4a or pick up the Galaxy A51 instead.

Pixel 4a vs. Galaxy A51: Two entirely different philosophies

pixel-4a-alex-back-outside-wall.jpg

The Pixel 4a continues to further Google’s ambitions in the mid-range segment, with the phone offering the same camera prowess as the regular Pixel 4 series. That means you’re getting a flagship camera for just $350, making the Pixel 4a a true bargain if you take a lot of photos.

The Pixel 4a has a plain design, but it is the ideal compact phone in 2020.

You won’t find a lot of design flair on the Pixel 4a — the phone is available in a single Just Black option. That said, the form factor is ideally suited for one-handed use, making the device that much more enticing in a segment that’s full of tall and unwieldy phones. The Pixel 4a also stands out because of the physical fingerprint sensor at the back, and there’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Samsung, meanwhile, went in a different direction with the Galaxy A51. The phone is 29g heavier than the Pixel 4a, and has a modern design with a subtle gradient texture underneath the polycarbonate back. The 6.5-inch AMOLED screen is one of the best you’ll find in this category, and is noticeably bigger than the 5.81-inch OLED panel on the Pixel 4a. The larger screen on the Galaxy A51 just makes it that much more conducive for playing games or streaming media.

There’s not much to differentiate either device when it comes to the internal hardware, with the Snapdragon 730 chipset on par with the Galaxy A51’s Exynos 9611. Google outfitted the Pixel 4a with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, and the base variant of the Galaxy A51 also offers the same configuration. The Galaxy A51 also comes with dual SIM card slots and a microSD card slot.

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The one area where Samsung has a distinct edge is the battery life. With a 4,000mAh battery under the hood, you’ll easily get over a day’s worth of use without any issues whatsoever. The Pixel 4a has decent battery life, but the 3,140mAh battery just doesn’t deliver the same longevity as the A51.

The Galaxy A51 has more cameras, but the Pixel 4a takes better photos from its single 12.2MP sensor.

The Galaxy A51 has four cameras at the back, with a 48MP primary lens along with a 12MP wide-angle, 5MP macro, and 5MP portrait lens. The Pixel 4a has a single 12.2MP camera at the back, and as you’d imagine, Google’s mid-range phone handily beats the Galaxy A51. You get decent shots in most lighting conditions from the A51, but it doesn’t measure up to the Pixel 4a in this regard.

Google also has a clear-cut advantage on the software front. The Pixel 4a has a clean interface and will get three years of platform updates, and while Samsung recently stated that its phones will also get three OS updates, that’s limited to its flagships. The Galaxy A51 will get two platform versions and security updates once a quarter.

Operating system Android 10 Android 10One UI 2.0
Display 5.81-inch OLED2340x1080 (19.5:9)Gorilla Glass 3 6.5-inch Super AMOLED2400x1080 (20:9)Gorilla Glass 3
Chipset Snapdragon 7302 x 2.22GHz Cotex A766 x 1.80GHz Cortex A55Adreno 6188nm Exynos 96114 x 2.30GHz Cortex A734 x 1.70GHz Cortex A53Mali-G72 MP310nm
RAM 6GB 6GB
Storage 128GB 128GB
MicroSD slot No Yes
Rear camera 1 12.2MP, f/1.74K at 30fps 48MP, f/2.04K at 30fps
Rear camera 2 No 12MP, f/2.2Wide-angle lens
Rear camera 3 No 5MP, f/2.4Macro lens
Rear camera 4 No 5MP, f/2.2Portrait lens
Front camera 8MP, f/2.0 32MP, f/2.2
Connectivity Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0NFC, A-GPS Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0NFC, A-GPS
Audio USB-C USB-C
Battery 3140mAhNon-removable 4000mAhNon-removable
Charging USB-C 3.118W USB-C 2.015W
Water resistance No No
Security Rear fingerprint In-display fingerprint (optical)
Dimensions 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm143g 158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9 mm172g
Colors Just Black Crush Black, Prism, Silver, Blue, Pink

Pixel 4a vs. Galaxy A51: It all comes down to that camera

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Choosing between the Pixel 4a and the Galaxy A51 comes down to the camera quality. If you want the best camera that this segment has to offer, the Pixel 4a is the obvious choice here.

If you want the best mid-range camera, the Pixel 4a is the obvious choice.

There’s also the fact that you get three years of software updates on the Pixel 4a, and that’s a huge deal when you consider the phone retails for just $350. I prefer Google’s software to One UI, and the clean interface combined with a few meaningful software features make the phone stand out.

The Galaxy A51 has a much better design, more vibrant screen, and better battery life. The camera is decent enough, but it’s not on the same level as the Pixel 4a, and Samsung isn’t going to deliver as many software updates. If you’re used to Samsung phones and want a mid-range option that nails the basics, the Galaxy A51 is still a great choice. But if you’re willing to switch and want the best camera in this category, I recommend the Pixel 4a.

Google Pixel 4a

Outstanding camera

pixel-4a-render-front-back.jpg

$349 at Amazon
$349 at Google Store

The best mid-range camera

The Pixel 4a once again establishes Google’s dominance in this category, with the phone setting a new standard for mid-range cameras. You also get decent internal hardware, more storage and memory versus its predecessor, and a clean software interface with three OS updates.

Powerhouse

Samsung Galaxy A51

galaxy-a51-render.jpg?itok=6Dq1nvjM

$389 at Amazon
$400 at Best Buy
$400 at Samsung

Big, bold, and beautiful

The Galaxy A51 delivers a vibrant AMOLED screen with outstanding battery life and a more design. Sure, the camera isn’t as good as the Pixel 4a, but the phone should be immediately familiar if you’ve used a Samsung device in the past, and One UI has a ton of useful features.

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