Pixel 5 Evaluation: The Nexus Returns

Pixel 5 Evaluation: The Nexus Returns


  • 1 – Absolute Sizzling Rubbish
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Rubbish
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Execs, Heaps Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Sufficient to Purchase On Sale
  • 7 – Nice, However Not Greatest-In-Class
  • 8 – Unbelievable, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Cash
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Value: $699
The black Pixel 5 leaning on a wooden wall.
Justin Duino

Google’s Pixel line has a convoluted historical past. What began off as a strategy to exhibit Android’s capabilities in inexpensive telephones with the Nexus line transitioned into Google’s try at flagship gadgets with the emergence of the Pixel. We’re now into the fifth technology Pixel machine, and the query is: did they lastly get it proper?

This is What We Like

  • The perfect Pixel so far
  • Wonderful type issue
  • Nice battery life

And What We Do not

  • Not an excellent worth in comparison with the 4a sequence
  • Physique hole could also be a difficulty on some models
  • Gradual post-processing on photographs

Each Pixel cellphone up till now has handled points. Battery life is the large one which involves thoughts, however slowdowns and efficiency hiccups (particularly on longer timelines) plagued each Pixel that I’ve personally used.

On high of that, the Pixel 4 introduced Venture Soli’s radar chip and Face Unlock to Android—neither of which ended up being something greater than extra {hardware} that drove the price of the cellphone up. Google by no means did something helpful with Soli, and Face Unlock was a bust on account of low adoption from builders.

The Pixel 5 undoes each of these issues and improves on previous Pixel points in profound methods. Battery life is great. Efficiency is superb regardless of the cellphone’s “underpowered” processor. And the significant, high quality of life adjustments introduced on in recent times—like waterproofing and wi-fi charging—are nonetheless current. All the proper corners have been lower with the Pixel 5, which no solely makes for a greater cellphone, however a extra inexpensive one, too.

The Pixel 5 is a breath of recent air within the cellphone’s lengthy, convoluted lineup. However it additionally has sturdy competitors with the resurgence of the midrange market—together with Google’s personal Pixel 4a and 4a 5G.

{Hardware} and Construct High quality: The Premium Mid Vary

On the skin, the Pixel 5 is comparatively unassuming. It appears like a clear, fashionable smartphone. It forgoes the notch for a svelte gap punch digital camera because it doesn’t have Face Unlock. There’s a well-recognized fingerprint scanner on the again of the cellphone, which is the best place for a fingerprint sensor to exist.

A close up of the top half of the Pixel 5's display, showing the hole punch camera cutout
Justin Duino

To me, the fingerprint sensor is a dramatic enchancment over the poor implementation that was Face Unlock. It’s tried and true, and just about all safe apps price their salt assist it. The identical can’t be stated for Face Unlock, which noticed poor adoption for many builders because it was solely accessible on a single set of telephones within the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Even when adoption had been higher, the fingerprint sensor simply makes extra sense in 2020: The 12 months of the Masks.

Not like in earlier years, there’s just one measurement this time—and it’s the proper measurement. The 6-inch show sits between what would usually be the “regular” and XL variations—only a bit larger than the Pixel 4, however a bit smaller than the Pixel 4 XL.

It’s pocketable, one-handable, and simple to handle. It feels good to make use of a cellphone that doesn’t really feel so unwieldy. I personally love every little thing concerning the cellphone’s aesthetic and I’m greater than happy to see a refined tackle a well-recognized design for a Pixel cellphone.

The Pixel 5 in Sage Green
My Sage Inexperienced evaluate unit. Cameron Summerson

Earlier than we get into the cellphone’s guts, I need to deal with the elephant within the room: physique hole. Some Pixel 5 models are experiencing what seems to be a separation between the cellphone’s physique and the show, which is disconcerting to say the least. My Sage Inexperienced evaluate cellphone does not exhibit the problem, however the Simply Black pattern our sister web site How-to Geek acquired does certainly present indicators of physique hole.

Now, earlier than you are concerned about this, Google says that this isn’t really a problem and doesn’t have an effect on the machine’s water resistance (which is the first concern with this type of separation). Largely it’s simply ugly, however for those who use a case you’ll possible by no means see it within the first place. That’s not an excuse, thoughts you—there isn’t a excuse for this type of malfunction in a $700 product—however is perhaps peace of thoughts for customers on the fence about shopping for the 5 due to potential physique hole points.

Showing the Pixel 5's body gap issue.
You possibly can see the “physique hole” on the highest nook. Justin Duino

With that out of the way in which, let’s speak innards. Underneath the hood, it gives many mainstays for its value bracket:

  • Show: 6.0-inch 1080×2340 OLED with 90 Hz “Easy Show”
  • Processor: Qualcomm 765g
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Cameras: 12.2 MP commonplace shooter, 16 MP ultrawide; 8 MP entrance
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Headphone Jack: No
  • Battery: 4,080 mAh
  • Fingerprint Sensor: Rear-mounted
  • Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0
  • 5G Compatibility: mmWave n260/n261, Sub-6 n1/2/3/5/7/8/12/28/41/66/71/77/78
  • Android model: Android 11
  • Colours: Simply Black, Sorta Sage
  • Value: $699

The processor alternative right here has been some extent of competition for different reviewers and Pixel followers alike, particularly when you think about telephones just like the Galaxy S20 FE function the sooner Snapdragon 865  for a similar variety of moneydollars. I personally don’t have any qualms with the chip, as I’ve discovered the Pixel 5’s efficiency to be high notch by means of my use. However I’m additionally a agency believer that the expertise provided by a smartphone is more important than its spec sheet.

For me, the true winner with the 765g is the battery life—that is the primary Pixel with not simply good, however really distinctive battery life. I’ve to chalk that as much as the selection to go together with a barely slower and extra environment friendly processor, which is a tradeoff I’ll take day by day of the week and twice on Sundays. Struggle me.

To offset the lower-end processor, nonetheless, Google lastly bumped the RAM to an appropriate 8 GB. This makes for extra fluid multitasking and permits apps to remain working within the background longer—I haven’t hit a single RAM limitation since I’ve been utilizing the Pixel 5, which is greater than I can say for just about every other Pixel earlier than it.

General, I discover the Pixel 5 to be essentially the most enticing Pixel so far—particularly in Sage Inexperienced, which I by no means thought I would really like. Efficiency for me has been glorious, and the battery life is even higher.

Show and Cameras: Pixel Excellent…ish

The yr is 2020, and I’d wager that you simply’d be fairly hard-pressed to discover a unhealthy cellphone show on the market—particularly on a contemporary flagship. At this level, it’s not about whether or not the show is nice or not, however slightly which one is marginally higher than the others. And whereas I suppose this can be a largely quantifiable metric, these type of comparisons are trivial. It’s about your eyes.

The Pixel 5's display
Justin Duino

To my eyes, the Pixel 5 has a wonderful show. The 432 PPI makes each sharp and crisp—pixels are visually indiscernible from one another. Colours are vibrant (thanks, OLED!) with out being oversaturated. Shade steadiness is superb. And I feel 99.9 p.c of individuals will completely agree. It simply appears good.

Just like the Pixel 4 earlier than it, the 5 additionally has Google’s “Easy Show” function. Primarily, this enables the show to leap between 60Hz and 90Hz refresh charges relying on the app. Additionally like on the Pixel 4, I can’t actually inform a distinction. It’s fairly clean more often than not, however I don’t assume there’s a massively discernable distinction between the 2 more often than not.

Now, if there have been a strategy to toggle 90 Hz on a regular basis, I feel it will be extra significant. However because it stands, this isn’t actually a game-changing function. Plus some telephones include 120 Hz panels now (just like the S20 FE), which is a way more significant shift from 60.

The cameras, although? Just like the Pixels earlier than it, the Pixel 5’s cameras are actually good. Not like the Pixels earlier than it, there are some downgrades and points with the cameras.

The black Pixel 5's camera and rear fingerprint sensor
Justin Duino

To begin, the Pixel 5 makes use of the identical fundamental rear digital camera because the Pixel 4. That’s all nicely and good—each telephones closely depend on Google’s post-processing for the magic contact anyway. However it strikes away from the 4’s 16 MP telephoto lens for a 16 MP extremely vast digital camera. In the end, an ultrawide is much much less helpful than the telephoto. Particularly when you think about panoramic modes and whatnot. Mix that with the truth that the 2x zoom on the Pixel 5 could be very disappointing, and it’s straightforward to see why Google shouldn’t have deserted the telephoto.

A sample image from the Pixel 5. A walking path and tree with yellow leaves in the distance A sample image from the Pixel 5. A walking path and tree with yellow leaves in the distance, zoomed 2x L: Fundamental digital camera; R: 2x Zoom. Take a look at how blown out among the particulars are (click on for full measurement).

Talking of the post-processing stuff, that’s the opposite draw back of the Pixel 5: it takes quite a bit longer to course of photographs than the outgoing Pixel 4. When you’re a shoot-a-bunch-and-look-at-them-later type of photographer, then you definitely possible received’t discover. However if you wish to shoot one thing and share it instantly, then you definitely’ll be left ready. That may get irritating—particularly for those who’re taking pictures with Portrait Mode or Night time Sight, which takes even longer.

A sample picture from the Pixel 5: A Leatherface collectible on a white desk; AirPods and other memorabilia in the background A sample picture from the Pixel 5: A Leatherface collectible on a white desk using portrait mode to blur out the background L: The principle digital camera, R: Portrait mode. 

That is possible the one main draw back to the 765G processor (not less than in my expertise), nevertheless it’s a giant one. The computational post-processing on Pixel telephones has lengthy been one in all their largest promoting factors, so to see it take a ding this yr is undoubtedly disheartening.

On the upside, the photographs nonetheless prove trying nice. So not less than that hasn’t modified.

A sample image from the Pixel 5: a wide-angle walking path outside with trees and other vegetation surrounding A sample image from the Pixel 5: guitar headstocks in low lightA Pixel 5 night mode camera sample: leaves on a dark porch in the rain Pixel 5 camera sample: the Ace of Clubs House in Texarkana, TXPrime Left: Ultrawide; Prime Proper: fundamental digital camera, indoors in low mild; Backside Left: Night time Mode; Backside proper: 2x zoom in nice lighting 

Worth: The Darkish Cloud Over an In any other case Nice Telephone

I like the Pixel 5. It’s my favourite Pixel so far. However that’s additionally the crux of the problem, as a result of I can’t say it presents the perfect worth, even in comparison with the opposite Pixels this yr. The Pixel 4a is half the value of the 5. It’s lacking among the 5’s extra compelling options—5G, wi-fi charging, IP score, and many others.—however for those who don’t “want” these issues, it’s simply the higher purchase. It’s 80 p.c pretty much as good because the 5 at half the value.

After which there’s the 4a 5G. It’s $200 lower than the Pixel 5, however makes use of the identical processor so it has 5G. It additionally has the identical cameras. The $200 tradeoff? Wi-fi charging, IP score, and 2GB of RAM. That’s…not quite a bit. When you don’t completely want wi-fi charging or an IP score, that is clearly the higher purchase.

The Pixel 5 on a wooden table with the Android 11 easter egg screen.
Justin Duino

As a lot as I like the Pixel 5, I admit that it’s a tough promote once you evaluate it to the “a” sequence telephones. When you don’t need 5G (and truthfully, nobody actually wants 5G proper now), the 4a is definitely a greater purchase. Need 5G? Save your self a pair hundred bucks and choose up the 4a 5G.

This leaves the Pixel 5 in a precarious place. I might argue that it’s the perfect Pixel that Google has ever made. However in the identical breath, I’d additionally urge you to strongly contemplate whether or not or not you truly want water resistance and wi-fi charging, as a result of that’s all you get with the 5 that you would be able to’t have within the different 2020 Pixels.

That additionally doesn’t even take into accounts the opposite contenders at this value level, just like the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE or iPhone 12 Mini. The FE is similar value because the Pixel 5, however gives a sooner processor, a further digital camera, an even bigger battery, and a bigger display. It makes a really sturdy case for “greatest cellphone for $700,” and also you’d be doing your self a disservice however not not less than exploring it as an alternative choice for those who’re contemplating the Pixel 5.

Conclusion: The Greatest Pixel on the Worst Time

The Sage Green Pixel 5 lying screen-down on a tree trunk
Cameron Summerson

The Pixel 5 is every little thing I’ve hoped for in a Pixel: good value, good efficiency, glorious measurement, and significant options. There hasn’t been a single time through the evaluate interval that thought “man, I want this had <some function it didn’t have>.” That has by no means occurred to me throughout a Pixel evaluate.

If this cellphone would’ve been launched every other yr, it will’ve been a straightforward and immediate advice. However it comes at a time when Google is actually competing with itself due to the unbelievable worth offered by the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G. This makes the $700 Pixel 5 a tough advice when you’ll be able to simply get 90 p.c of its greatest options in a cellphone that prices considerably much less.

All that stated, for those who do purchase a Pixel 5, I’m assured you’ll find it irresistible. However for those who don’t have $700 to spend proper now, relaxation assured that you simply’ll nearly definitely be simply as pleased with one thing from the extra inexpensive “a” sequence.

Or you’ll be able to all the time await a Pixel 5 sale. Simply saying.

Ranking: 9/10
Value: $699

Right here’s What We Like

  • The perfect Pixel so far
  • Wonderful type issue
  • Nice battery life

And What We Do not

  • Not an excellent worth in comparison with the 4a sequence
  • Physique hole could also be a difficulty on some models
  • Gradual post-processing on photographs

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