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Google Pixel 5 assessment: Google’s finest tech, condensed for comfort

“The Pixel 5 represents the easiest of Google’s software program and {hardware} prowess, all crammed inside a compact, light-weight, however barely dull-looking physique.”

  • Compact and light-weight
  • Detailed 90Hz display screen
  • Extremely succesful digital camera
  • Two-day battery life
  • Boring design
  • Lacking that particular quirky Google function

I’m all for eliminating gimmicks on smartphones, first to scale back the worth and second as a result of not everybody makes use of these “options” fairly often. That’s why I used to be fairly excited concerning the Pixel 5, which concentrates on the digital camera, battery life, software program, and most significantly this 12 months, the worth.

I’ve been utilizing the Pixel 5 for a short time, and frustratingly, Google has gone a bit too far in its normalization efforts. Gone are the quirks that made some heat to outdated Pixels, and whereas the digital camera continues to be a winner, it hasn’t moved the sport ahead in the best way the Pixel 4 did. I’m getting a bit forward of myself right here, so let’s go into element.

{Hardware} and design

Google has by no means been one for giving the Pixel a wild design, however it is extremely good at making a sensibly sized cellphone, and the Pixel 5 is precisely proper. The steel physique is welcome, because it’s heat to the contact, doesn’t get lined in fingerprints, and needs to be sturdy too. The properly rounded sides make it simple to grip and maintain, and the general dimension and 8mm thickness — much like different well-proportioned telephones just like the iPhone 11 Pro — is excellent. It’s additionally astonishingly mild at simply 151 grams.

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All this makes it very simple to stay with, and the Pixel 5 will enchantment to anybody who finds many telephones launched just lately too massive to carry. Most competing Android telephones are a lot larger, and it’s solely the iPhone 11 Pro that comes near the Pixel 5’s completely judged dimensions. By stripping away a number of the quirky options seen on earlier Pixel telephones, Google has settled on a cellphone that’s sized excellent. And with a barely bigger display screen than on the Pixel 4, you by no means really feel shortchanged when watching video or enjoying video games.

Nevertheless, it’s unimaginable to get excited concerning the Pixel 5’s seems to be, particularly in the event you purchase the black one. It’s understated to the purpose of invisibility, and doesn’t actually have that all-important premium air about it. The fingerprint sensor is an efficient instance of this. It’s on the again fairly than beneath the display screen, and due to this fact works rather well, nevertheless it additionally ages the system’s design. Annoyingly, it isn’t complemented by a safe face unlock system like on the Pixel 4. There’s really no face unlock in any respect.

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The facet buttons are fabricated from steel, however have the identical clicky really feel because the plastic ones on the Pixel 4a, which prices nearly half the worth. That’s nice for the Pixel 4a, however not so good for the Pixel 5. There actually isn’t rather more to say concerning the design, which is a significant indication that Google’s simplification efforts have gone too far. And not using a enjoyable experimental Google function on board, just like the Pixel 4’s squeezable sides, the Pixel 5 on the floor is a bit boring. It’s finest to hunt out the Sorta Sage (aka inexperienced) coloration, which does inject some character into the cellphone.

Display screen and audio

The 6-inch OLED display screen has a 90Hz refresh fee and a 2340 x 1080 decision, is roofed in Gorilla Glass 6, and helps HDR10+. It’s larger than the Pixel 4 and 4a’s screens, however not as large because the Pixel 4 XL or 4a 5G’s. Google’s resolution to take away the sensors required for Soli gesture controls and the infrared face unlock means the big bezels on the Pixel 4 have disappeared, leading to minimal bezels of a uniform dimension on the Pixel 5. The selfie digital camera lives in a hole-punch cutout.

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If you happen to’ve by no means used a cellphone with a 90Hz refresh fee earlier than, you’re in for a deal with. It’s positively simpler on the eyes in comparison with a cellphone with a 60Hz display screen, leading to much less fatigue, And mixed with Android 11’s smoothness, it makes scrolling via Twitter, Chrome, and different apps very pleasurable.

It’s a magnificence, too. It’s vibrant and detailed, however cooler than the Galaxy S20 FE, and with much less saturation. Carfection’s Aston Martin Vantage Roadster review highlights these variations, with the silver automobile wanting significantly extra silver on the Pixel than on the Samsung cellphone, whereas the blue sky is extra pronounced on the Galaxy cellphone. It’s an identical story when evaluating it with the OnePlus 8T, however put the Pixel 5 towards the cheaper Pixel 4a, and the efficiency is nearly indistinguishable.

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The audio system are first rate, however they lack a bit in each quantity and bass, and might’t match the OnePlus 8T and Galaxy S20 FE’s extra rounded, deeper sound. The takeaway right here is that though engaging, the Pixel 5’s display screen isn’t any higher than the competitors, and since the audio system are a bit wimpy, the OnePlus 8T and Galaxy S20 FEprovide a greater video-watching expertise.


The first digital camera on the Pixel 5 is similar 12.2-megapixel, f/1.7-aperture digital camera with Part Detection Autofocus (PDAF) and optical picture stabilization (OIS) that you simply’ll discover on the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 4. A second 16MP f/2.2 aperture wide-angle digital camera joins it on the Pixel 5, and it can be discovered on the Pixel 4a 5G, however the Pixel 5 doesn’t have the telephoto digital camera of the Pixel 4 — a swap Pixel followers had been asking for final 12 months.

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The bodily cameras are solely a part of the story, and it’s actually Google’s computational images that’s the star. Google says the software program has been given a severe improve for the brand new cellphone, and that makes up for utilizing the identical sensor as earlier than. There are a couple of new options, together with Evening Sight portrait pictures and new enhancing options for portrait pictures.

Let’s speak about this primary, as a result of it’s an excellent demonstration of Google’s software program prowess. Portrait pictures will be edited extensively, with the power to regulate the background blur, take away the background coloration, and switch your entire picture black-and-white. That is achieved on the faucet of a button, and you may get deeper into enhancing the blur, depth, and coloration, too. All this works whether or not you’re taking portraits with the rear or the entrance digital camera, and there’s a particular mode to regulate the sunshine supply with Portrait selfies. See above for examples of what’s doable. It’s actually enjoyable, very efficient, and fairly easy to make use of the function.

That sums up the Pixel 5’s digital camera very properly normally. It actually is a good point-and-shoot, since you’re assured that regardless of the atmosphere or situations, it’ll take a cracking photograph. That simplicity and talent is addictive, and it’s enjoyable to exit and take a lot of footage, simply to see what you may get. The wide-angle provides versatility and alternative for dramatic pictures, however some will miss the telephoto. Google’s not prepared to please everybody by together with each, sadly.

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The Pixel 5’s digital camera is good, nevertheless it isn’t actually an enormous generational leap over the Pixel 4, and never solely does the less expensive Pixel 4a take principally the identical nice images, however the competitors has caught up with Google on the software program facet. Samsung’s cameras are constant today, nevertheless it’s the digital camera on the Apple iPhone 12 and 12 Mini that Google needs to be most involved about, because the {hardware} across the digital camera is extra fascinating than the Pixel 5’s — and pricing is comparable.

Efficiency and software program

On paper, the Pixel 5 just isn’t a “flagship” cellphone, as a result of it utilizing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor and never the Snapdragon 865 or 865 Plus. It’s one other strategy to chop the worth down, and except you’re a spec-sheet obsessive, it’s not a large deal. I contemplate myself a traditional consumer, in that I take advantage of the digital camera, use social apps, make video and voice calls, play a couple of video games, watch video, and sustain with work duties.

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It does all these duties with out interruption — and with out feeling prefer it’s underpowered. Play Asphalt 9 Legends, and it’s as visually spectacular and easy to play on the Pixel 5 as it’s on the OnePlus 8T. If something, there are occasions when the Pixel 5 runs extra easily than some extra highly effective telephones, corresponding to when it rotates the display screen from portrait to panorama and vice versa in YouTube. Loads of this comes all the way down to Android 11, the most recent model of Google’s software program, and this is a bonus the Pixel 5 has over the competitors.

Android 11 on the Pixel 5 (and the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 4a 5G) may very well be labeled boring, identical to the design, however the dullness is its power. There’s no garnish or further branded apps, simply quick, easy, and easy software program. Nevertheless, I’ve encountered a few issues with my cellphone which have proved irritating.

The primary has been an intermittent fault with the microphone, the place it fails to activate so callers can’t hear me, and my voice messages turn into silent. The issue is cured by turning the cellphone on and off once more, however you don’t know when the difficulty arises till it’s too late. My Pixel 5 has dropped my Wi-Fi sign greater than different telephones, and persistently has one fewer bar of reception on each Wi-Fi and mobile connections. It’s doable that is to do with the steel physique.

The reception difficulty just isn’t a deal breaker, however one thing to be thought of in the event you already stay in an space with poor reception. It needs to be famous that the Pixel 5 has 5G, after all, which opens up new networking prospects as properly. The microphone downside could also be a difficulty with my cellphone solely, and after alerting Google forward of publication right here, I’m anticipating a alternative assessment mannequin to see if the issue persists. This difficulty has not affected the rating of the cellphone — but.


Battery life is without doubt one of the greatest enhancements over the Pixel 4. My cellphone has simply lasted a day with regular use, and if I flip it off in a single day, it lasts a lot of the second day, too. After the woeful Pixel 4, that is most welcome. It’s conservative with energy too: With mild use on a busy day that noticed me ignore my cellphone, the battery was nonetheless above 80% by 4 p.m.

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The cellphone comes with an 18W-watt wired charger within the field, and helps wi-fi charging. That’s a intelligent trick contemplating the cellphone’s physique is steel — Google reduce a gap within the again and crammed it with a resin that’s visually indistinguishable from the remainder of the physique. Place one other system on the again of the Pixel 5, and it’ll prime up the battery wirelessly utilizing its personal energy. This labored with my iPhone 11 Professional, however not with my Sony WF-1000XM3 headphones, sadly. These reverse wi-fi charging programs can all be a bit finicky.

Worth and availability

The Google Pixel 5 prices $699, or 599 British kilos, is available in one model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of space for storing, and is offered now from Google, Amazon, and different retailers. It helps 5G, supplied you might be in an space with protection and have the right service plan, and the Pixel 5 within the U.S. additionally consists of mmWave 5G assist for the Verizon (and more and more, T-Cellular and AT&T) community.

Our take

Purchase the Pixel 5 and also you’ll get a well-proportioned cellphone with a wonderful display screen, a superb digital camera, quick efficiency, and easy-to-use software program. What else do you want? Technically, not a lot, however it will be good to have a look at the Pixel 5 and really feel one thing, fairly than simply ambivalence.

Is there a greater various?

There are a number of nice options to the Pixel 5 out there. The primary challengers are the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and the OnePlus 8T. Each use the Snapdragon 865 processor and higher-class designs, and though the cameras aren’t fairly nearly as good because the Pixel’s, most individuals will discover them completely first rate.

The Apple iPhone 12 is shaping as much as be a definite challenger, and the forthcoming iPhone 12 Mini might also take the Pixel 5 on. Nevertheless, maybe the most effective various to think about is the Pixel 4a 5G, which does nearly every thing the Pixel 5 can do however for $200 much less at $499. If you happen to’re not fearful concerning the wide-angle digital camera or 5G, then the $349 Pixel 4a can also be wonderful.

How lengthy will it final?

The Pixel 5 is a wonderful long-term smartphone buy. The conservative seems to be imply it’ll by no means look extra outdated than it does now. It options 5G for the longer term, in addition to two years of main Android software program updates assured. It has an IP68 water-resistance ranking, and the steel physique will probably be harder than a glass cellphone, plus Google makes some engaging instances to enrich the Pixel 5. There’s no purpose why the cellphone received’t serve you properly for 2 to 3 years.

Must you purchase one?

Sure, the Pixel 5 is Google’s prime smartphone of 2020, and whereas it doesn’t have essentially the most thrilling seems to be, it represents the most effective of Google’s software program and {hardware} prowess, all at an awesome worth.

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