Google Pixel 5 review: Great camera, but it’s hard to recommend at this price

Google’s leaping on the 5G practice with the $499 Pixel 4A 5G (£499, AU$799) and $699 Pixel 5 (£599 and AU$999). The phones run the most recent Android 11 OS, have a second ultra-wide digicam and larger batteries than any earlier Pixel telephone. However because the marquee gadget, the Pixel 5 is supplied with just a few extra options.

These goodies embrace a 90Hz show, 2GB extra RAM, an even bigger battery and a water resistant, aluminum physique. It additionally has wi-fi charging and reverse wi-fi charging. (For extra on the variations, try PJDM’s video, Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G spec comparison.)

Aside from that, the telephones have the identical digicam setup, processor and common feel and look. And since they’ve so many overlapping options, I lean in the direction of the Pixel 4A 5G. Whereas I like the upper refresh fee on the Pixel 5 and wi-fi charging, that $200 I would be pocketing by going with the 4A 5G makes it value skipping out on these options, not less than for me. In any case, with that chunk of change I may purchase a pair of wireless earbuds or extra storage on Google One. Plus, it nonetheless has 5G and an even bigger display, which makes the Pixel 4A 5G my choose of the three new Pixel telephones this 12 months (sure, do not forget about that Pixel 4A from August) and certainly one of my high general picks for Android telephones in its value vary.

As for the Pixel 5, it is onerous to advocate given its value. True, it’s $100 cheaper than the Pixel 4 ($390 at Back Market) was when it launched final 12 months. And Google is aware of individuals aren’t prepared to spend so much proper now and is producing only 800,000 Pixel 5 phones this year. However whereas the Pixel 5 is Google’s flagship telephone, it is not precisely an ultra-premium flagship telephone. There are many options from Samsung, Apple, OnePlus and even LG that boast higher {hardware}.

Most value as a lot or greater than the Pixel 5, however not all. The OnePlus 8 ($699 at Amazon), for instance, is at the moment $600 for the 8GB/128GB mannequin. It too has 5G, an ultra-wide lens, a 90Hz show and the T-Mobile variant is water resistant. Although it does not have wi-fi charging or reverse wi-fi charging, it has a bigger show and the extra highly effective Snapdragon 865 chipset, versus the Pixel 5’s Snapdragon 765G. And should you’re in search of much more flagship options, like 8K video recording, a quicker processor, expandable storage or extra cameras (like a telephoto lens), it is best to look elsewhere altogether.

Pixel 5’s digicam: New ultra-wide digicam and stabilizing choices

Like in previous years, the Pixel telephones’ important promoting level is the digicam. Google removed the telephoto lens that we noticed on the Pixel Four and changed it with an ultra-wide digicam. Although I like having a telephoto lens, the ultra-wide digicam works properly and I do take pleasure in having the broader area of view for sweeping landscapes or simply becoming extra content material in a single body.

Tweaking a photograph utilizing the Portrait mild device.

Lynn La/PJDM

The digicam’s low-light mode, branded as Evening Sight, takes nice photos in dim lighting and now it really works in portrait mode so you may nonetheless take these polished, dramatic photos at midnight. The impact is not at all times excellent, nevertheless. Within the photographs I took I did see some patchiness round my flyaway hairs and situations the place my fingers within the foreground (holding up a peace signal) was confused and blurred out as a part of the background. Google additionally added a device that allows you to mess around with portrait lighting. It is simple to make use of and it got here in helpful each time I took a typically good picture, however the lighting simply did not fairly come out proper.

For video, the telephone nonetheless makes use of a mixture of optical and digital picture stabilization that offers video a clean, virtually drone-like high quality. And there are actually several types of optimizations you may select for stabilization, together with Cinematic Pan. This presents a slower, extra cinematic search for panning. (I additionally like that Google included fast explainers and samples of when to make use of every of those choices and what they seem like; it makes the telephone fairly user-friendly.) And for slow-motions followers, the telephone can now document 60fps in 4K decision.

Usually, the cameras are nonetheless improbable and keep in mind the Pixel 5 and 4A 5G share the identical cameras. Footage have nice dynamic vary, photographs are vibrant and clear and Evening Sight does a wonderful job at dealing with low-light. Digital zooming maxes out at 7x and whereas it really works properly sufficient, particulars do get muddied on faraway objects. Additionally, the delta between the Pixel’s digicam and different telephones is not as large anymore. In comparison with the OnePlus 8T, for instance, photos appeared fairly on par with each other. Although, when it got here to low mild, the Pixel had higher dynamic vary and white stability.

This shot of boats within the night have been taken with the primary 12-megapixel digicam.

Lynn La/PJDM

The identical scene captured with the 16-megapixel ultra-wide digicam.

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A closeup shot of this succulent reveals sharp detailing.

Lynn La/PJDM

This picture of the constructing was taken throughout the road utilizing the primary digicam and no zoom.

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The identical shot of the constructing utilizing the 7x digital zoom.

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This image exemplifies the Pixel’s large dynamic vary. When the OnePlus 8T took the identical picture, the signage on the constructing was blown out and unreadable.

Lynn La/PJDM

Evening Sight now works with portrait mode to take bokeh-like photographs at midnight. Right here, my solely mild sources have been a close-by candle and a pc monitor just a few ft away.

Lynn La/PJDM

Evening Sight lit up this very dim scene close to a lake, and you may see particulars within the foreground shrubbery in addition to the condo lights within the background.

Lynn La/PJDM

Pixel 5 previews Maintain For Me and different Android 11 goodies

The Pixel telephones run Android 11 and there is not an enormous quantity of recent software program issues we haven’t already seen since the OS has been rolling out. That features Darkish Mode, Fast Controls and a characteristic I’ve used typically to assist with this very evaluation — the built-in display recorder.

Maintain For Me lets Assistant take your house when you’re placed on maintain.

Lynn La/PJDM

The units do preview one thing referred to as Maintain For Me, which lets Google Assistant take your house whenever you’re on maintain and notifies you when an actual particular person is again on the road. It builds off the identical AI know-how as Name Display screen and the interface is sort of environment friendly after I used it to name a dummy line that Google setup. You continue to must hover across the telephone when an individual takes up your name, however I am going to take any aid I can get from crappy maintain music.

The native recorder app additionally has extra tips up its sleeve because the final time I took a have a look at it on the Pixel 4A. I am not too certain why Google has actually leaned in on this app, however as somebody who makes use of it on a regular basis for taking notes and recording interviews, I am not complaining. Now you can edit textual content and replica or take away chunks of audio. Sadly, you may solely edit textual content one phrase at a time for now, which prevented me from breaking a misheard phrase into two (it transcribed me saying “their powers,” into “empowered”) and it was tedious after I needed to appropriate a handful of errors in a row. I do like this new device within the Recorder app, which creates slightly graphic if you wish to share some quote or audio snippet on social media.

Pixel 5’s pure, minimalistic aesthetic and 90Hz show

In comparison with the Pixel 4, the Pixel 5 and 4A 5G have thinner bezels and a hole-punch digicam show on the entrance. The rear digicam bump is extra flushed on the Pixel 5 too, which appears to be like a lot nicer. 

When designing the Pixel 5, Google stated it wished the telephone to have a mushy look that is harking back to a pebble or stone. Maybe as a result of the comfy, Scandinavian aesthetic is stylish proper now, however I dig the telephone’s matte, pure look. It jogs my memory of high-end Japanese washi paper and the sage inexperienced colour appears to be like particularly good. The reflective accents of the ability button and “G” emblem on the again are additionally a beautiful contact. On the floor, I could not inform the distinction between the Pixel 5’s aluminum design and the Pixel 4A 5G’s polycarbonate, or plastic, encasing. However within the hand it does really feel denser, regardless of being smaller. 

The Pixel 5 additionally has a 90Hz show, which means the display refreshes 90 frames a second. Most telephones, together with the Pixel 4A 5G, refresh 60 instances a second, although there are some which have 120Hz shows, just like the OnePlus 8T and Galaxy S20. For the Pixel 5 to have a better refresh fee signifies that scrolling by means of information feeds and net pages really feel a lot smoother and virtually bouncy. To avoid wasting on battery life, there are some conditions that the telephone will revert again to 60Hz, like when the display is static or when an app does not essentially name for a excessive refresh fee. 


The Pixel 5 has a 90Hz show

Angela Lang/PJDM

Pixel 5 efficiency and battery

The Pixel 5 and 4A 5G characteristic a Snapdragon 765G processor. It is an fascinating selection provided that lots of present flagships and final 12 months’s Pixel Four have the extra strong Snapdragon 855 chipset. Whereas which means the Pixels’ benchmark scores aren’t as excessive as, say, the OnePlus Eight or Galaxy S20, the telephones are similar to units which have the Snapdragon 765G processor, just like the LG Velvet for instance. It is nonetheless quick and dependable too, and through my time with it, I did not expertise any hiccups or lag time all through my day-to-day duties.

3DMark Slingshot Limitless


Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero single-core


Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero multicore


Longer bars point out higher efficiency

The Pixel 5 has a 4,000-mAh battery whereas the Pixel 4A 5G has a 3,800-mAh battery. It is the best capability of any Pixel telephones in years previous, however remember loads of different telephones — just like the OnePlus Eight and the Galaxy S20 have batteries which can be as huge and even greater than that.

From what I’ve seen thus far, the Pixel telephones are in a position to go with out charging for greater than 24 hours with gentle utilization. I keep in mind final 12 months with the Pixel 4, that telephone’s battery noticeably drained fairly shortly by means of the day and fortuitously I am not seeing the identical factor right here. A preliminary battery assessments on the Pixel 5 for steady video playback on Airplane mode closed in 21 hours, 17 minutes, which is superb. However we’re nonetheless conducting battery assessments on the Pixel 5, so test again quickly for an replace. Lastly, Google is introducing a brand new mode referred to as Excessive Battery Saver. It is an choice on high of the common battery saver mode and it severely limits app utilization to increase battery life. 

Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4A 5G, OnePlus Eight and Galaxy A71

Google Pixel 5 Google Pixel 4A 5G OnePlus 8 Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Show dimension, decision 6-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels 6.2-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels 6.55-inch AMOLED; 1,080×2,400 pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 432ppi 413ppi 402ppi 399ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.7 x 2.Eight x 0.Three in 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.Three in 6.Three x 2.Eight x 0.31 in 6.39 x 2.97 x 0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 144.7 x 70.Four x 8.Zero mm 153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm (Sub-6 solely) 153.9 x 74 x 8.5 mm (mmWave + Sub-6) 160 x 72.9 x 8.Zero mm 162.5 x 75.5 x 8.1 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.33 oz; 151g 5.93 oz; 168g (Sub-6 solely) 6.03 oz; 171g (mmWave + Sub-6) 6.35 oz; 180g 6.52 oz; 185g
Cell software program Android 11 Android 11 Android 10 Android 10
Digicam 12.2-megapixel (customary), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12.2-megapixel (customary), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 48-megapixel (customary), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel (macro) 64-megapixel (important), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth-sensing)
Entrance-facing digicam 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 16-megapixel 32-megapixel
Video seize 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon Qualcomm 7250, Snapdragon 765G
Storage 128GB 128GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB
RAM 8GB 6GB 8GB, 12GB 6GB, 8GB
Expandable storage No No No As much as 512GB, 1TB
Battery 4,000mAh 3,800mAh 4,300mAh 4,500mAh
Fingerprint sensor Rear Rear In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No Sure No Sure
Particular options 5G enabled; waterproof (IP68); 90Hz refresh fee show; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wi-fi charging; quick charging 5G enabled; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); quick charging 5G enabled; Warp Cost; 90Hz refresh fee 5G enabled
Worth off-contract (USD) $699 $499 $699 (8GB RAM/128GB), $799 (12GB RAM/256GB) $600 (AT&T and T-Cell); $650 (Verizon)
Worth (GBP) £599 £499 £599 (8GB RAM/128GB), £699 (12GB RAM/256GB) £420 (4G), £520(5G)
Worth (AUD) AU$999 AU$799 UK converts to: AU$1,180 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$1,370 (12GB RAM/256GB) AU$750 (4G), AU$800 (5G)

*costs are at launch

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Lynn La