This time around, we’ll compare two smartphones that are placed in a $450-$750 price bracket, the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9. The Pixel 5a 5G was released not long ago, while the OnePlus 9 has been around since March. Some people consider both of these phones mid-rangers, even though the OnePlus 9 is more of a high-end phone, due to its internals. Regardless, their price tags are not that far apart (even though there is a difference), so they’re definitely worth comparing. It will be interesting to see a mid-range vs high-end comparison.
From the front, these two phones are not too different in comparison. Both offer thin bezels, a flat display, and a display camera hole that sits in the top-left corner. The power / lock button sits on the right-hand side of both phones, though the position of the volume up and down buttons is on opposite sides. The OnePlus 9 also has an alert slider on the right. In any case, when you flip the two devices over, you start seeing some major differences.
The Google Pixel 5a 5G is Google’s latest mid-ranger, and a direct successor to the Pixel 4a 5G. The company did not change the hardware too much, though this handset did get some upgrades along the way. The OnePlus 9, on the other hand, is playing a smaller brother to OnePlus’ flagship, the OnePlus 9 Pro. OnePlus did cut some corners on this phone compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro, but it’s still more than a compelling device. That being said, let’s compare the Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9, shall we.
The Pixel 5a 5G has a fingerprint scanner back there, along with its dual camera setup. The OnePlus 9 includes three cameras back there, no rear-facing fingerprint scanner, and its camera island looks considerably different. This handset actually has an in-display fingerprint scanner, in case you were wondering. The OnePlus 9 comes with a plastic frame, and a glass backplate. The Pixel 5a 5G is made out of metal, though that metal shell is covered by resin, which will feel mostly like plastic under your fingers, but not the cheap kind.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Display
These two handsets have considerably different displays. The Pixel 5a 5G features a 6.34-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED panel. This is a flat display with a 60Hz refresh rate. It does support HDR content, and it is protected by the Gorilla Glass 3. The OnePlus 9, on the other hand, features a 6.55-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) Fluid AMOLED display. This is also a flat display, but it offers a 120Hz refresh rate, and it supports HDR10+ content. It gets quite bright, at 1,100 nits peak brightness, which is brighter than the Pixel 5a 5G’s panel. This display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 5.
The Pixel 5a 5G is much easier to use with one hand, mainly due to its smaller size, and the outer shell which is less slippery. The Pixel 5a 5G is shorter, narrower, and thinner than the OnePlus 9. It is also lighter, at least when we compared the US variants. The variant that OnePlus sells in China and India is the exact weight as the Pixel 5a 5G, as it doesn’t have the wireless charging hardware inside. Both phones feel good in the hand, but they also feel completely different. It’s all a matter of preference.
As you can see, the difference is quite notable on paper, and it’s something you’ll notice in real life as well. The OnePlus 9’s display does look better in real life, not to mention that its high refresh rate does stand out. It will make scrolling extremely smooth, and it’s not even comparable when you use them side by side, the difference is clear. Truth be said, though, Google did a really nice job with animations in Android 11, so using the Pixel 5a 5G’s display is a joy, as long as you don’t mind its refresh rate.
Both panels do look good, though. The colors are vibrant on both, while the viewing angles are great. They both do get bright enough for outdoor use as well. The Pixel 5a 5G’s display pulls a bit to the warm side, while the OnePlus 9’s is the other way around, it’s a bit blueish when you compare them. That’s not something you’ll notice in regular usage, without holding them side by side. Besides, there are a ton of display settings on both, so you can fine-tune each display. They are both more than sharp enough.
Google Pixel 5a 5G vs OnePlus 9: Performance
The performance on both of these phones is excellent. It is worth noting that there are some differences, which is to be expected considering that they offer entirely different hardware. The Pixel 5a 5G is fueled by the Snapdragon 765G SoC, which is Qualcomm’s mid-range processor. The phone comes with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The OnePlus 9, on the flip side, is fueled by the Snapdragon 888, one of two Qualcomm’s flagship chips (at the moment). It includes 8GB / 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 flash storage. The OnePlus 9 is definitely ahead in terms of internals, and you will notice that in performance. Not to say the Pixel 5a 5G is sluggish, quite the contrary. The phone offers excellent performance, but that’s to the added firepower of the OnePlus 9, and its high refresh rate display, it is able to open apps a bit sooner, and it will also seem a bit smoother. The difference is not that notable when it comes to regular tasks.
The OnePlus 9 does a better job of handling demanding games, though. That is to be expected considering its internals are considerably more powerful. Neither phone gets too hot while gaming, though the OnePlus 9 does get warmer, which is not surprising. The Snapdragon 888 is a considerably more powerful SoC than the Snapdragon 765G.
- OnePlus 9 vs. Google Pixel 5a 5G
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