The Google Pixel 5: A Mini-Review - Small Package, Small Value?by Andrei Frumusanu on January 22, 2021 9:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Pixel 5
It’s been a couple of months now since Google announced the Pixel 5 – Unfortunately we didn’t quite get to a timely review of the device due to other important industry coverage. Today I wanted to revisit the phone in a briefer format review, revisiting some important aspects of the phone such as performance, battery life, and add a few comments about the camera capabilities.
The Pixel 5 is a change of tactic for Google, with the company opting to go the route of a lower-cost “premium” or high mid-range component configuration, rather than setting up the Pixel 5 as an all-out flagship phone. Given the company’s product release cadence over the years, always releasing new phones towards the end of the year, just around the corner of the spring next-gen releases. This schedule had always been a disadvantage for Pixel flagships, so maybe Google’s change of strategy here to go for the mid-range is a more sensible approach.
|2020 Google Pixels|
|Pixel 4a||Pixel 4a (5G)||Pixel 5|
2x CA76 @ 2.2GHz
6x CA55 @ 1.8GHz
1x CA76 @ 2.4GHz
1x CA76 @ 2.2GHz
6x CA55 @ 1.8GHz
|DRAM||6GB LPDDR4X||8GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||128GB UFS 2.1||128GB||128GB|
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)
2340 x 1080 (19.5:9)
|Size||Height||144.0 mm||153.9 mm||144.7 mm|
|Width||69.4 mm||74.0 mm||70.4 mm|
|Depth||8.2 mm||8.2 mm||8.0 mm|
|Weight||143 grams||168g (sub-6)
|Battery Capacity||3140mAh (typical)
18W Fast Charging
18W Fast Charging
18W Fast Charging
|Main||12.2MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PDAF
f/1.7 77° lens with OIS
|Front Camera||8MP 1.12µm
f/2.0 84° lens; fixed focus
3.5mm headphone jack
|Wireless (local)||802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
(LTE Category 12/5)
DL = 600Mbps
UL = 150Mbps
(LTE Category 18/13)
DL = 1200 Mbps
UL = 150 Mbps
(5G NR Sub-6 + mmWave*)
DL = 3700 Mbps
UL = 1600 Mbps
*excludes non-mmWave model of 4a(5G)
*excludes mmWave in non-US markets
|Other Features||Dual Speakers||Dual Speakers||Dual Speakers
|Dual-SIM||1x nanoSIM + eSIM|
|Launch Price||$349 / 349£ / 349€
||$499 / £499 / €499
|$699* / £599 / €629
Starting off with the SoC, as we’ve discussed it over the last few months, the big difference for the new Pixel 5 is that it comes with a “premium” range Snapdragon 765 chipset from Qualcomm, rather than using the contemporary Snapdragon 865 flagship SoC. This is undoubtedly a cost-cutting measure for Google to be able to achieve this new price point of $699 / €629.
The SoC should still be plenty performance for every-day usages thanks to the two Cortex-A76 big cores, with one of them clocking up to 2.4GHz and the other one at 2.2GHz, however it’s still going to be a notable downgrade compared to the flagship SoCs which employ both newer CPU cores as well as clocking them higher. The SoC’s Adreno 620 GPU is also going to be a key factor in the general performance of the Pixel 5, making some big gaming performance compromises that we’ll cover in more detail in the GPU section.
Google dons the Pixel 5 with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and a singular storage option of 128GB, without any expandable storage.
The Pixel 5’s front design adopts the similar uniform bezel design introduced with the lower-cost Pixel 4a, and is a departure from the chin and forehead style of the previous generations, also avoiding the usage of odd camera notches. Instead, we have an in-screen camera cut-out in the top left corner, which works quite well. It’s definitely a much more modern design that we’ve seen in previous generation Pixel phones.
The actual display is a 2340 x 1080 OLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. This year, I’ve not seen any issues with the display panel as it’s quite high quality even though the specifications aren’t exactly up to par with 1440p 120Hz competitors.
At 6.0” diagonal and only 70.4mm phone width however, the 1080p resolution isn’t an issue as the pixel density is very viable.
The camera setup on the Pixel 5 is quite simple, but Google made some important changes in the secondary module compared to last generation, replacing the dedicated telephoto module with an ultra-wide camera. It’s always possible to pinch-to-zoom to get closer to your subject (although with quality drop), however it’s not possible to pinch out to get a wider field of view if you don’t have the camera hardware for it. This was a large criticism of the previous generation Pixel phones as they had been the only relevant devices in the market not actually using a UWA module. The camera here is a 16MP 1.0µm unit with an f/2.2 aperture and a 107° FoV – not the widest out there, but still plenty competitive and very usable.
The main camera module continues to be a 12.2MP 1.4µm sensor module with f/1.7 optics and OIS – it’s the same module we’ve seen in the Pixel 4 and an overall camera formula we haven’t seen changed in many generations of Pixel phones. Google this year advertised improvements in the HDR algorithms – although you can’t say that the overall camera experience is as ground-breaking as it was a few years ago.
The one regard where the Pixel 5 really differentiates itself from almost any other contemporary phone in the market is its build materials and build-quality. Unlike the usual glass sandwiches of recent years, the Pixel 5 uses an aluminium unibody. It’s not naked aluminium as it has a special plastic coating on it, which gives it a grippy feel, but also isn’t exactly the same as a full plastic phone.
The special thing about the aluminium body is that Google still managed to employ wireless charging though a cut-out in the frame, which of course is invisible to the user due to the plastic coating on top of it.
Generally, I found the design of the Pixel 5 to be pretty good and it had excellent ergonomics. It’s very rare to have good small phones nowadays, and at only 70.4mm width and 151g weight, the Pixel 5 does quite well to address this part of the market. Google opted not to release a Pixel 5 XL this year, so you don’t really have a choice if you prefer a larger variant of the phone – you’d have to go with the Pixel 4a XL, or another competitor device.
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RaistlinZ - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link$700 is the new mid-range?! Yikes.
raystryker - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - linkAgree 1000% ....when you can build a decent gaming pc(when parts are available) for the cost of a "midrange" phone....
TheinsanegamerN - Monday, January 25, 2021 - linkSadly yes. People are willing to fork over $1500 for iphones and galaxy phones. People get them through contract plans "oh but its free" (no it isnt). People are not smart with money, look at all the people buying scalped consoles and GPUs, $50,000 cars, carrying tens of thousands in CC debt.
People like you and me, who look at a $700 device and see an expensive proposition, are int he minority.
eastcoast_pete - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkMy main problem with Google's Pixel phones has been and continues to be that they are, at heart, iPhones for people who don't like iPhones or iOS. While I can understand not like liking iOS (have to use an iPhone for work), I have a hard time to understand why one wants to give up some big upsides of Android, such as the ability to add cheap, removable storage. That BTW is a key reason why I never bought an iPhone, even though they are amazingly good at videos, something that is important to me. If I want a small-ish Phone from closed ecosystem that constantly reports back to HQ and has no expandable storage, I'd get the original - the current small iPhone, also with better photo and video. The Pixel 5 remains a not-as-good copy of that, unfortunately.
GC2:CS - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - linkIs it possible that the SoC is deffective in hardware ?
Like half of the GPU is burned out so they bought it for lower cost.
In my wiew, even if it costs 700, it looks like they tried to save on every oportunity like plastic build, low RAM delaminating displays.
But scrap SoC sounds too much for me.
vanish1 - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - link$700 for the Pixel 5. How much of an Android fanboy do you have to be to buy this phone?? I'm being serious. Because for the price, the ip12 and 12 mini run circles around this phone in terms of value and will most likely outclass the performance of Pixel phones for a few years to come.
nucc1 - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - linkYup. I took one look at the specs and settled for an iPhone 12. I couldn't subject myself to using a midrange chip for the next two+ years with the low scores in web browsing benchmarks.
TheinsanegamerN - Monday, January 25, 2021 - linkWho cares about benchmarks? A snapdragon 625 scores WAY lower and yet handles android browsing, AKA one window at a time, just fine. We crossed the point of "good enough" long ago.
NewWestBC - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - linkMy spouse has a Pixel 5. Yes it has the Snapdragon 765G and it might not be a phone for gamers or at least games that actually make use of high fps. Camera e how images turn out are still better than phones that cost 50% more. It's depends what you use your phone for... Benchmarking phone cpu or gpu tells a part of the story, that for some people is irrelevant. For the price I think it's one of the best options if you are looking for a solid, polished version of Android. On click amazing photos. Boring for some, but it just works well all around and the average user could not tell if it has a 765G compared to a much more expensive 888 unit.
Google4Eva - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - linkWell I work for Google and I have the Pixel 4 which I love. Photos are fab facial recognition motion sense night vision and love the glass body. However what Google phones are NOT is a luxury phone. I would say they belong to Apple 13 Pro for design and features. Also Samsung S21 but Pixel is not aiming to be there anyway ditto Chromebooks too. They are mid range phones and value for money