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

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

These goodies embody a 90Hz show, 2GB extra RAM, a much 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 normal feel and appear. And since they’ve so many overlapping options, I lean in direction of the Pixel 4A 5G. Whereas I really like the upper refresh fee on the Pixel 5 and wi-fi charging, that $200 I might be pocketing by going with the 4A 5G makes it value skipping out on these options, a minimum of for me. In spite of everything, with that chunk of change I might purchase a pair of wireless earbuds or extra storage on Google One. Plus, it nonetheless has 5G and a much bigger display screen, 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 one in all my prime total picks for Android telephones in its worth vary.

As for the Pixel 5, it is arduous to advocate given its worth. 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 folks 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 cellphone, it is not precisely an ultra-premium flagship cellphone. 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 presently $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 would 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’ essential 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 effectively and I do get pleasure from having the broader discipline of view for sweeping landscapes or simply becoming extra content material in a single body.

Tweaking a photograph utilizing the Portrait mild software.

Lynn La/PJDM

The digicam’s low-light mode, branded as Night time Sight, takes nice footage in dim lighting and now it really works in portrait mode so you may nonetheless take these polished, dramatic footage at midnight. The impact is not all the time excellent, nonetheless. Within the photographs I took I did see some patchiness round my flyaway hairs and cases 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 software that allows you to mess around with portrait lighting. It is easy 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 cellphone nonetheless makes use of a mixture of optical and digital picture stabilization that provides video a easy, nearly drone-like high quality. And there are actually various kinds of optimizations you may select for stabilization, together with Cinematic Pan. This gives 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 appear to be; it makes the cellphone fairly user-friendly.) And for slow-motions followers, the cellphone can now file 60fps in 4K decision.

Basically, the cameras are nonetheless improbable and keep in mind the Pixel 5 and 4A 5G share the identical cameras. Photos have nice dynamic vary, pictures are vibrant and clear and Night time Sight does a superb job at dealing with low-light. Digital zooming maxes out at 7x and whereas it really works effectively sufficient, particulars do get muddied on faraway objects. Additionally, the delta between the Pixel’s digicam and different telephones is not as vast anymore. In comparison with the OnePlus 8T, for instance, footage regarded 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 had been taken with the primary 12-megapixel digicam.

Lynn La/PJDM

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

Lynn La/PJDM

A closeup shot of this succulent reveals sharp detailing.

Lynn La/PJDM

This photograph 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 vast dynamic vary. When the OnePlus 8T took the identical picture, the signage on the constructing was blown out and unreadable.

Lynn La/PJDM

Night time Sight now works with portrait mode to take bokeh-like photographs at midnight. Right here, my solely mild sources had been a close-by candle and a pc monitor a number of ft away.

Lynn La/PJDM

Night time Sight lit up this very dim scene close to a lake, and you’ll see particulars within the foreground shrubbery in addition to the condominium 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 usually to assist with this very evaluation — the built-in display screen recorder.

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

Lynn La/PJDM

The gadgets do preview one thing known as Maintain For Me, which lets Google Assistant take your house if you’re on maintain and notifies you when an actual individual is again on the road. It builds off the identical AI know-how as Name Display screen and the interface is kind of environment friendly after I used it to name a dummy line that Google setup. You continue to should hover across the cellphone 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 methods 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 software within the Recorder app, which creates just a little 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 a lot nicer. 

When designing the Pixel 5, Google stated it wished the cellphone to have a comfortable look that is harking back to a pebble or stone. Maybe as a result of the comfortable, Scandinavian aesthetic is fashionable proper now, however I dig the cellphone’s matte, pure look. It jogs my memory of high-end Japanese washi paper and the sage inexperienced colour appears particularly good. The reflective accents of the facility button and “G” brand on the again are additionally a stunning 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, that means the display screen 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 implies that scrolling by means of information feeds and net pages really feel a lot smoother and nearly bouncy. To avoid wasting on battery life, there are some conditions that the cellphone will revert again to 60Hz, like when the display screen is static or when an app would 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 a variety of present flagships and final 12 months’s Pixel Four have the extra strong Snapdragon 855 chipset. Whereas meaning the Pixels’ benchmark scores aren’t as excessive as, say, the OnePlus Eight or Galaxy S20, the telephones are akin to gadgets 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

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero single-core

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero multicore

Be aware:

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 very best capability of any Pixel telephones in years previous, however take into account loads of different telephones — just like the OnePlus Eight and the Galaxy S20 have batteries which might be as huge and even greater than that.

From what I’ve seen up to now, the Pixel telephones are capable of go with out charging for greater than 24 hours with delicate utilization. I keep in mind final 12 months with the Pixel 4, that cellphone’s battery noticeably drained fairly shortly by means of the day and thankfully I am not seeing the identical factor right here. A preliminary battery exams on the Pixel 5 for steady video playback on Airplane mode clocked in 21 hours, 17 minutes. This is a wonderful time, particularly when contemplating that the Pixel Four averaged half that point at 10 hours. However we’re nonetheless conducting battery exams on the Pixel 5, so test again quickly for an replace. Lastly, Google is introducing a brand new mode known as Excessive Battery Saver. It is an possibility on prime 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 measurement, 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 (normal), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12.2-megapixel (normal), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 48-megapixel (normal), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel (macro) 64-megapixel (essential), 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; water-resistant (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