With the release of the Canon EOS R5/R6, there have been many saying that they prefer the 20MP R6 camera over the 45MP R5 camera, due to its lower price but also because of "better low-light performance."
In camera comparison sites, I've also seen the sentiment that bigger pixels (lower resolution) = better low light performance. However, is this a myth?
Here is my reasoning for this. Let's say that there are two full-frame sensors, one 20MP sensor and a 80MP sensor. According to many people, the 80MP sensor would be terrible for low-light photography since the pixels are smaller. However, each 2x2 block in the 80MP sensor could be mapped, and in post averaged to a 1x1 pixel, effectively making the image into a 20MP image. This could also be done in-camera as an option. Would this image have just the same amount of usable information as the image from the 20MP sensor?
In other terms, since both sensors are 35mm sensors (i.e. equal area), the amount of light falling onto the sensor is the same. So, at the end of the day, there will be no difference between a 20MP image and a 20MP image that has been downsampled from 80MP, right? So their low-light performance would be the same. You even get an advantage from having the option to get 80MP photos if you wanted.
Why do people say that a lower-resolution camera has better low-light performance, when it should theoretically be the same as one with higher resolution (all other factors equal)?
Note: this question is about sensors with the same size but with different pixel density. Hence, it is different from this question asking about different sensor sizes. I am aware that a full-frame camera will have better low-light signal due to its bigger area than an APS-C sensor, but what about the similarly sized sensors?