Google Pixel 5 review: a lousy year for Pixel fans
If you bought a Google Pixel, I used to be the type who thought you were getting a powerful smartphone with some of the cleanest and brightest software out there. Then last year, things started to change: Google started offering lower-cost smartphones that, while perhaps not that impressive from a technical point of view, kept that focus on great software and intelligent features. That mid-range embrace has culminated in Google’s 2020 smartphone lineup. There’s the cheap and cheery Pixel 4a, the slightly more polished Pixel 4a 5G, and now the Pixel 5 – a device that looks more like a side shift of the 4th than a significant upgrade.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider what the Pixel 5 offers. Google’s approach to Android is as charming as ever, and at $ 700, the Pixel 5 is one of the least expensive pixels of all time, at least if it dumps all those deliberately low-end ‘a’ phones. (Namely, it costs $ 100 less than the Pixel 4 last year.) And now that 5G networks are widely available, you can finally use a Pixel to take advantage of them. Those are all good things, but Google has a problem: There are now a handful of great phones in the same price range, and I’m not convinced the Pixel 5 has what it takes to beat them.
Android 11 is clean and smart Compact and well built Long duration battery
Solid but stagnant camera performance Audio quality is not great Other phones offer better value
The Pixel 5 is one of the best small Android phones we’ve used in quite some time, and Google’s clean, feature-rich approach to Android remains attractive. That said, we’re not sure it will make Pixel fans out of people who didn’t prefer them yet. That’s partly due to unusual bugs like a mediocre speaker setup and fixed camera performance that doesn’t beat the competition like it used to. More than anything else, though, the Pixel 5 falls victim to circumstance – it’s a primarily solid smartphone that would have rated higher if some of its rivals weren’t such good values.
Unlike in previous years, when Google released a regular and XL version of its flagship phone, the Pixel has no counterpart. There are also no multiple Pixel 5 unless you count the unlocked and carrier-specific variants. If you’re thinking of buying a Pixel 5, you’ll spend $ 700 plus tax for a 128GB model regardless. The only choice you have to make is between the Just Black and Sorta Sage colour options.
Design and hardware
If nothing else, Google made an attractive phone. The design of the Pixel 5 looks a lot like the much cheaper Pixel 4a, which means we’re working with another compact, full-screen format. However, there are some significant (and subtle) differences here: the bezels on this Pixel are completely symmetrical for one, and since they’re narrower than the 4a’s, Google had room to fit a 6-inch OLED screen into this compact body. . Of all the phones I’ve tested over the years with 6-inch displays, this one quickly feels like the smallest. That means it’ll slip easily into a pocket or purse, but if you want a modern Pixel with a bigger screen, your options are pretty limited. You can get a 5G Pixel 4a, try to find a good deal on a Pixel 4 XL, or expect Google to try something different next year.
That said, this is still a pretty nice display. My only complaint is that it seems to be on par with the Pixel 4 XL in terms of brightness, which is to say that it is more than good enough indoors, but it can struggle in bright light. Still, it has spacious viewing angles and lots of vivid colours, although the same intensity is up to you; As usual, there are three colour modes to choose from. And fortunately
Like the Pixel 4s before it, the Pixel 5’s display can increase its refresh rate to 90Hz. It’s a feast for the eyes, to be sure, but the effect isn’t as pronounced here as it is on the 120HZ displays we’ve seen on other devices in this price range. (Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE and the new OnePlus 8T have these types of faster displays. You’ll hear about those phones a few more times before this review ends.)
I should also point out that, at 2,340 x 1,080, this panel is not technically as sharp as the displays we got on any of the Pixel 4 lines from the year passed. I know some people were concerned about that drop in pixel density, but unless you intend to press your face against the glass, honestly, you can never tell.
Otherwise, the rest of the Pixel 5’s design is pretty straightforward, aside from one of the colour options, anyway. I’ve been testing the Sorta Sage model, and I understand why Google chose the name: sometimes it looks like pale green, and other times it’s more sky blue, almost like that version of the Pixel 2 from a few years ago. Does.
Google also chose a metal body for the Pixel 5 this year, although I have to say I couldn’t have guessed if Google hadn’t told me. Part of that is because the Pixel 5 is extremely lightweight, and part of that is because the coating used here feels like anything but metal. It’s honestly hard to describe what this material feels like – it’s textured, but not overly so. The best analogy I can think of is smooth stone, but not polished.
It’s worth noting that Google had to drop a bunch of long-standing Pixel features and components this time. I hope you didn’t like pressing your phone to activate the Google Assistant because you can’t hear. And there is no giant front either because there is no Soli radar. We don’t know if Google left it out for design or cost reasons or because few people enjoyed it. Either way, I don’t miss him very much.
The Pixel’s dramatic forehead downsizing also means there’s no secure face unlock here, which is fine by me because we’re still living in a weird pandemic world. The Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor on the rear is one of the fastest and most accurate I’ve used. Oh, and like last year’s Pixel 4s, the 5 has an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. That makes it the most durable new Pixel of 2020, which came in handy when I watched YouTube videos and decided to throw the Pixel 5 into a fountain.