Ever since Google purchased a huge chunk of HTC and started integrating its U.S. and Taiwan groups (the Pixel 3a was the primary Pixel primarily designed in Taiwan), it’s felt like Google has been a bit confused in regards to the Pixel’s course. Two years in the past we obtained a big Pixel with twin selfie cams and a fingerprint sensor in again, however then final yr’s Pixel 4 featured one cam in entrance, two cams in again (together with one with a zoom lens), and 3D facial recognition as a substitute of a fingerprint reader.
With the Pixel 5, we get a processor that’s a tier beneath what most flagships are rocking, an ultra-wide digicam in again as a substitute of zoom, and no XL model to enrich the usual mannequin with its comparatively small 6-inch display. And priced at simply $700, the Pixel 5 additionally prices a whole lot lower than top-end telephones from Samsung, Apple, and even OnePlus. In comparison with the remainder of the trade, Google is zagging the place everybody else is zigging, subverting expectations, and bucking a bunch of developments with virtually reckless abandon. And you understand what? It’s freaking working, as a result of in quite a lot of methods, the Pixel 5 is the last word Google cellphone: It’s worth and one of the crucial distinctive telephones of the yr.
Compared to handsets from only a couple years in the past, a cellphone with a 6-inch display won’t sound that small, however it’s. The Pixel 5 is smaller than principally each cellphone launched this final yr apart, from the iPhone SE and the upcoming iPhone 12 Mini. In actual fact, regardless of having barely extra display actual property because of its slimmer bezels, the Pixel 5 is definitely smaller than the Pixel 3. In a post-OG Galaxy Word world the place telephones have been steadily rising ever bigger for the higher a part of a decade, it takes some critical chutzpah to downsize.
So regardless that I want Google had made an XL model of the Pixel 5, the usual mannequin’s dimensions are downright invigorating. As somebody who offers with quite a lot of big-display behemoths, it’s very nice to have a petite little cellphone that by no means feels heavy, cumbersome, or unwieldy.
On the highest fringe of the Pixel 5, as a substitute of going with a slim earpiece speaker such as you get on virtually each different cellphone, Google constructed a speaker into the Pixel 5’s show, which vibrates the display and produces noise once you make a name. The Pixel 5’s vibrating display additionally works with the cellphone’s bottom-firing audio system to supply a type of pseudo-stereo audio. Overall high quality is a bit missing in bass, however booming lows are one thing that nearly no cellphone can meaningfully pump out. As a result of it doesn’t want to make use of a conventional earpiece speaker, the Pixel 5 has a skinny, unblemished bezel (nicely, apart from that hole-punch selfie cam), which wraps across the whole machine and outcomes in a neat and glossy entrance facade.
Google has even forgone the 3D face scanner it used on the Pixel 4, together with the flamboyant in-display fingerprint sensors so many premium telephones have adopted, in favor of ‘ole digit reader in again. It’s quick, it’s easy, and in a time when stuff like Face ID and face unlock are principally ineffective once you’re carrying a masks, it’s good to see that old-school biometric techniques nonetheless have their deserves.
Surprisingly, maybe probably the most fascinating factor about the whole Pixel 5 is its again. As a substitute of glass or polycarbonate, the Pixel 5 technically has an aluminum physique, although you’d by no means comprehend it as a result of Google has coated the Pixel 5’s rear in “bio-resin.” It not solely feels completely different than another cellphone (and makes slapping a case on the cellphone considerably pointless), it additionally makes the cellphone much less slippery and allowed Google give the Pixel 5’s signature Sorta Sage colour extra depth and richness than regular.
However the again of the Pixel 5 is bizarre for 2 causes. First, due to the bio-resin, which feels extra like leather-based or paper than your common plastic. However the different purpose is that almost all cellphone makers keep away from utilizing aluminum backs as a result of metallic panels usually don’t play good with wi-fi charging, although that didn’t cease Google. So to make wi-fi charging work, Google made exact cuts within the Pixel 5’s aluminum again to accommodate wi-fi charging coils, leading to one thing that’s extra sturdy than each conventional plastic and glass, with just about not one of the drawbacks. The Pixel 5 even helps reverse wi-fi charging (Google calls it Battery Share), so you may energy up different gadgets that assist Qi on the fly. How that’s for ingenuity?
Moreover, with the Pixel 5’s extraordinarily lengthy battery life, utilizing Battery Share is one thing that’s a pleasure to make use of. That’s as a result of, regardless of its dimension, the Pixel 5’s 4,000 mAh battery is definitely the largest battery Google has ever put in a Pixel. In our video rundown take a look at, the Pixel 5 lasted 16 hours and 48 minutes. That’s the third longest time I’ve seen on a cellphone this yr, behind the Moto Edge+ (17:18), and the Asus ROG Telephone 3 (16:56). That is fairly spectacular as a result of, traditionally, longevity has by no means been one of many Pixel line’s greatest strengths. But it surely undoubtedly is now on the Pixel 5.
Google’s counter-logical design pondering doesn’t cease in relation to the cellphone’s exterior, both. As a substitute of utilizing a Snapdragon 865 chip like quite a lot of different premium Android telephones, the Pixel 5 incorporates a chip from Qualcomm’s subsequent rung down: the Snapdragon 765G. It’s a savvy transfer, as a result of the Snapdragon 765G nonetheless provides assist for all the main flavors of 5G and ample efficiency, whereas additionally decreasing the Pixel 5’s price.
With the Pixel 5’s display that includes an honest however not tremendous excessive 2160 x 1080 decision, a lot of the additional efficiency of a Snapdragon 865 in all probability would have been wasted. The Pixel 5 is greater than snappy as is. Additionally, by slicing prices with its chip, it turned simpler for Google to include different premium options like a wealthy OLED show, which additionally incorporates a 90Hz refresh charge to assist make video games, web sites, and animations look additional clean. It’s not fairly pretty much as good as 120Hz or 144Hz such as you get some some dearer telephones, however it’s noticeable and a worthy inclusion. Google even doubled up the Pixel 4’s 64GB of base storage to 128GB on the Pixel 5, an improve I’m glad to take each time.
However one of the crucial confounding choices (no less than for informal observers) that Google made with the Pixel 5 is to make use of the identical Sony IMX363 sensor it used within the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 3 as a substitute of selecting out the most recent and best digicam sensor. In an trade the place gadget makers are anticipated to push out yearly refreshes, sticking with the identical digicam sensor for 3 years in a row might sound weird, however as soon as once more, there’s a technique to the insanity. As a substitute of getting to reinvent its picture processing and digicam algorithms each 12 months, Google has had a constant platform that it’s been in a position to really optimize, and the outcomes communicate for themselves.
In vivid mild, the Pixel 5 produces pics with deep, saturated colours and extra element than you get on just about another cellphone, no matter value. And in darker environments, because of Evening Sight (which now works on Portrait Mode photographs), you get one of the best low-light digicam high quality round too. I additionally like that Google has leaned into its experience with software program so as to add three new video stabilization modes (locked, energetic, and cinematic pan), making the Pixel 5 a greater device to report particular moments, each stills and video.
That stated, Google did ignore one main smartphone digicam development I actually want it hadn’t: solely together with two rear cams as a substitute of three. I completely perceive the reasoning behind going with an ultra-wide cam as a substitute of a zoom cam on the Pixel 5, because it’s simpler to provide individuals extra attain utilizing software program through Google’s Tremendous Res Zoom than it’s to extend a cellphone’s area of view. But when Google simply included three rear cams—a large angle, ultra-wide, and a telephoto—the Pixel 5 would stack up a lot better in opposition to its competitors.
In comparison with the 5x optical zoom on the Galaxy Word 20 Extremely, Tremendous Res Zoom at 5x simply can’t actually hold. Now I admit that’s not a particularly reasonable comparability as a result of the Word 20 Extremely prices virtually twice the Pixel 5’s value, but I’d nonetheless actually like to see Google complement Tremendous Res Zoom with even only a 2x or 3x optical zoom to assist seize sharper telephoto pics.
Additionally, whereas Google’s technique of sticking with the identical picture sensor for 3 years has labored up till now, I’m undecided how for much longer that technique can proceed. Sure, the Pixel 5 manages to edge out the iPhone 11 and the most recent Galaxy Word in most conditions (particularly low mild), however that hole is nearer than ever, and in vivid mild, Google undoubtedly isn’t dunking on Apple and Samsung throughout the board. Different options like Portrait Mode with Evening Sight don’t look pretty much as good as they need to, and I can’t assist however surprise if the Pixel 5’s sensor is holding the cellphone again a bit in these conditions. And let’s not neglect, the iPhone 12 Professional Max with its superior pictures options is due out subsequent month, which might shift that steadiness much more.
Nonetheless, not together with a zoom cam is usually a minor offense on a cellphone that solely prices $700, and contemplating what number of unwritten guidelines Google is straight up thrashing this time round, the Pixel 5 is form of magnificent. It’s obtained nice digicam high quality, greater than adequate efficiency, and a sneakily revolutionary design—to not point out all the Pixel unique software program options like Duplex, Name Screener, computerized captions, and, my private favourite, the Pixel Recorder app. So whereas not providing a Pixel 5 mannequin with a much bigger display means this cellphone won’t be an important match for everybody, for individuals who choose a extra compact machine, the Pixel 5 is legitimately one of the best small Android cellphone round and a fairly good total worth. This yr, Google stated: Screw the playbook. The Pixel 5 is best for it.
- As a result of there’s no Pixel 5 XL, in order for you a brand new Pixel with a much bigger display, you’ll must go together with the Pixel 4a 5G.
- I actually want Google would simply put three cams on the again of its top-end Pixel.
- The Pixel 5 doesn’t use a conventional earpiece speaker. Instead, it vibrates its display (which can also be used for normal audio, too, alongside the backside speaker).
- New digicam modes embody Evening Sight in Portrait Mode and three completely different stabilization settings for video (locked, energetic, and cinematic pan).
- The Pixel 5 has ridiculously good battery life, and it’s one of the best small Android cellphone available on the market.