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The best Google Pixel 5 alternatives: 8 other phones to consider before you buy

Te Pixel 5 is great, but you may want something different.
October 15, 2021
Google Pixel 5 in hand 3
David Imel / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 5 is perhaps the line’s best iteration yet. Coming in with a $699 MSRP, Google’s flagship sacrifices a bit of power on paper to deliver a lower price, 5G, and flagship-level features in other areas.

What if you want more value for money? Or maybe you want a world-class phone regardless of price? Join us as we look at some of the best Google Pixel 5 alternatives you can get your hands on.

Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best Google Pixel 5 alternatives around.

The best Google Pixel 5 alternatives

1. OnePlus 9

OnePlus 9 review in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • More powerful processor for advanced games and apps.
  • Faster wired and wireless charging.
  • Available in many major markets.

The OnePlus 9 isn’t the biggest leap in the brand’s smartphone history, but you’re still getting a good flagship phone for just a little bit more than the Pixel 5 in the US ($729 MSRP). It matches the Pixel device by packing 5G and 128GB of base storage and upgrading the screen to 120Hz over 90Hz.

OnePlus’ phone steps things up over the Google flagship by offering a more powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset, 65W wired charging (versus 18W charging), a slightly bigger battery, and higher resolution main and selfie cameras. OnePlus also tends to offer three Android version updates to its flagships, in line with Google.

Read more: OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, and OnePlus 9R buyer’s guide

Google’s phone does have a few upsides compared to the OnePlus 9, though, such as an IP rating and a reputation for better image quality. Meanwhile, the Pixel 5 offers IP68 water and dust resistance.

The OnePlus Nord is another Google Pixel 5 alternative worth checking out, especially as its price tag means it’s well under the Google flagship’s price. You do miss out on wireless charging and an IP rating, but it packs six cameras (a case of quantity over quality, though), a 90Hz OLED screen, and a Snapdragon 765G 5G processor. Sadly, it’s unavailable in the US, but those in Europe or looking to import could do far worse than OnePlus’ first budget phone in many years.

2. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G standard back image
David Imel / Android Authority
  • The Pixel 5G experience for $200 less.
  • Same processor and dual rear camera setup, but lacking in other areas.
  • Available in North America, Europe, and several other markets (not India)

The Pixel 4a 5G is arguably the most obvious and best Pixel 5 alternative, as it offers the core Pixel 5G experience without the flagship extras. That means you’re not getting a 90Hz refresh rate, wireless charging, or water resistance. Google’s cheaper 5G phone also skimps a little on battery size and RAM compared to the Pixel 5.

The two phones still share plenty of features, though, such as a Snapdragon 765G chipset, the same dual rear camera setup (12MP main plus 16MP ultra-wide), and Google’s clean version of Android with three years of promised version updates.

Related: Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4a 5G vs. Pixel 4a

Best of all, the Pixel 4a 5G comes in at $499, making it $200 cheaper than the Pixel 5. If you want to go even lower, there’s the Pixel 4a too, though you’ll be further sacrificing some crucial features like 5G and a second camera, and that’s before you take into account the even weaker SoC.

So, this is an excellent middle-ground if you want a bit more than the Pixel 4a but don’t want to splash out $700 on the Pixel 5.

Google Pixel 4a 5G
$499.00 at Amazon

3. Google Pixel 4 series

Google Pixel 4 vs Google Pixel 4 XL from the back
  • A more powerful chipset for games and performance in general.
  • Motion Sense gestures and face unlock, but no fingerprint scanner.
  • Missed India and several other markets due to the use of Soli radar technology.

The Pixel 4 series is generally considered one of the more disappointing Pixel releases to date, with Google forgoing an ultra-wide lens and the standard Pixel 4 offering a tiny battery. That’s before you even consider the measly 64GB base storage, the less-than-stellar debut of Motion Sense, and the initially high price tags.

Related: Google Pixel 4 XL one year later — is it still worth buying?

In saying so, the Pixel 4 series is still worth considering at the right price, as it offers a more powerful chipset than the Pixel 5, a 90Hz OLED screen, and a dedicated zoom camera. Otherwise, the Pixel 5 brings back the fingerprint scanner, offers 5G, and an ultra-wide shooter instead of the telephoto camera. Decisions, decisions.

The Pixel 4 series started at $800, but you’re likely to find it at a lower price now that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G are out. Especially now that the Pixel 6 is around the corner. As the phones have been discontinued, they won’t be around for long, however.

Google Pixel 4
$383.90 at Amazon
Save $415.10

4. Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 back in hand 1 1
David Imel / Android Authority
  • True 2021 flagship power with a Snapdragon 888.
  • Triple rear camera, wireless charging, and water resistance too.
  • Available in loads of markets.

Samsung’s latest Galaxy S21 phone is the best way to dip your phone into One UI and save money in 2021. It comes in at just $799 MSRP, making it $200 cheaper than the Galaxy Note 20 and just $100 more than the Pixel 5.

You do miss out on a few premium features that you’ll find on the more expensive Galaxy S21 Ultra, though. You won’t find as many cameras, as much RAM, or the same variety of finishes. Then again, the Galaxy S21 offers premium staples like a Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset, water resistance, wireless charging, a flexible triple rear camera setup, and a 120Hz screen.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Pixel 5

Samsung’s phone also delivers a 4,000mAh battery that’s identical in size to the vanilla S20. It also offers the same in-display fingerprint reader that we’ve come to know and love from Samsung, though there’s no headphone jack to be seen.

Samsung Galaxy S21
$819.99 at Amazon

5. Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13 rear rotated right on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Ticks many boxes for a flagship (powerful, water resistance, wireless charging)
  • Apple tends to support its iPhones for roughly five years.
  • Available in a wide variety of locales.

The iPhone 13 is one of the best Google Pixel 5 alternatives… if you don’t mind switching to iOS. The two phones share features like water resistance, wireless charging, and a dual rear camera setup (main+ultra-wide).

More: Eight things iOS does better than Android

The iPhone 13 differs thanks to its use of the iOS platform in place of Android while also offering a more powerful processor that dukes it out with the best Android chipsets. Otherwise, Apple’s device lacks a high refresh rate display (unless you go for one of the Pro versions) and fingerprint unlock, so the choice might not be clear-cut for many.

Like the idea of an iPhone but want to go even cheaper? Then the $699 iPhone 13 Mini or $400 iPhone SE 2020 are for you. The former is just a smaller iPhone 13, while the latter strips back some features for the sake of affordability. The iPhone SE may have a dated design, LCD screen, and single rear camera, but it does bring wireless charging, water resistance, fingerprint unlock, and Apple’s flagship A13 Bionic processor.

Apple iPhone 13
$799.00 at Best Buy

6. Xiaomi Mi 11

Xiaomi Mi 11 hero shot
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Flagship horsepower and a 120Hz display.
  • Big battery and fast 50W wireless charging.
  • Readily available at… Walmart?

Are you looking to give Xiaomi a try? Then you’ve also got a great Pixel 5 alternative in the Xiaomi Mi 11. For starters, you get the first phone announced with the high-end Snapdragon 888 processor, a 120Hz screen, and a 4,600mAh battery with 55W charging.

Xiaomi’s handset also packs a triple rear camera (108MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, and 5MP macro), 8K recording, and a 20MP selfie camera.

It’s not as readily available in the US as Google’s phones, but if you want an ultra-fast phone that should last a while, this is worth considering.

Xiaomi Mi 11
$579.00 at Giztop

7. Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G placed on grey fabric showing back panel top down view
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
  • Snapdragon 778G processor and 4,500mAh battery are a long-lasting combo.
  • 25W wired charging gets you moving quickly.
  • Samsung’s OneUI 3.1 is among the best around.

Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy A52s 5G is a solid competitor to the Pixel 5 on several fronts. It’s the larger of the two devices, and it packs a bigger battery, and even the processor is slightly better. Both phones can achieve all-day battery life, and you can take your pick between One UI and the breezy Pixel skin.

Read more: The best 5G phones you can buy right now

The Galaxy A52s 5G also packs a quad-camera array. Other specs include an AMOLED 120Hz panel, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. Not to mention aesthetics, which Samsung is known for.  It’s overall deserving as one of our favorite Pixel 5 alternatives, and it offers far more value than the previous Galaxy A51.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
£409.00 at Samsung

8. Asus Zenfone 8

Asus Zenfone 8 rear standing on tracks
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Stands among the best small flagship phones, much like the Pixel 5.
  • Simple glass and metal slab design.
  • Packs the powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset.

Asus may have ditched the flip-up selfie camera for the Zenfone 8, but it’s still a worthy small flagship alternative. While the design itself — and the camera options — won’t thrill you, the internals are tough to beat.

You’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipset tucked away onboard, along with up to 16GB of RAM. Storage tops out at 256GB, non-expandable, but at least you get a headphone jack. Asus added plenty of top flagship features, yet it’s the omissions that might have you scratching your head.

The battery isn’t massive at 4,000mAh, though it should provide you with a day of juice. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging to be seen, nor is there an official IP rating. Asus also chose just two cameras for the rear of its Zenfone 8: A 64MP primary lens and a secondary 12MP ultra-wide option.

Asus Zenfone 8
$659.99 at Asus
Save $89.00

That’s it for our look at the best Google Pixel 5 alternatives! Are there any other similarly priced phones you can recommend? Let us know in the comments. Have your heart set on the Pixel 5? You can order it below!

Google Pixel 5 taking a photo 4 1
Google Pixel 5
Google's first 5G smartphone
The Google Pixel 5 may not be the high-end Pixel we were expecting, but it's a pretty compelling mid-range option. Google is going back to basics with the Pixel 5, ditching higher-end features like face recognition and the quirky Motion Sense gestures.