Google Pixel 5 review | Tom's Guide

Google Pixel 5: Specs

Price: $699
OS: Android 11
Display: 6-inch OLED (2340x1080; 90Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Rear camera: 12.2MP huge (ƒ/1.7), 16MP ultrawide
Front digital camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Battery: 4,000 mAh
Size: 5.7 x 2.Eight x 0.3 in
Weight: 5.Three ounces

The Google Pixel 5 confuses me as a result of it is both a fantastic phone and a unusual one as a result of, as consumers, we’re conditioned to be expecting that a new model of something is better than whatever it’s changing. That's typically the case.

In many ways, the Pixel 5 is best — at $699, it prices $100 not up to the Pixel 4 did. The new Pixel has a far higher battery with wi-fi opposite charging, 128GB of base storage, and a brand new ultrawide lens; and, after all, it sports 5G connectivity.

However, the Pixel 5 indisputably isn’t higher in each way. Critically, Google has selected a lower-tier chipset to stay costs down and ditched one of the vital Pixel 4’s extra advanced and distinctive options, like its 3-d Face Unlock system. It’s also onerous to speak about Google’s latest range-topping phone without citing its $200-cheaper sibling, the Pixel 4a 5G. That phone shares the Pixel 5’s processor and digicam, amongst different issues, permitting it to check the flagship in maximum key spaces.

Thus, our Google Pixel 5 review reveals a tool that is very pleasant to use, but also very perplexed. Google clearly had to make some difficult compromises right here, and while there’s for sure that the company’s as soon as again delivered one of the most best possible Android telephones you’ll to find, the Pixel 5 doesn’t even qualify as the most productive value in Google’s personal lineup.

Editor's note: We crowned our alternatives within the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for phones. The Pixel 5 won a highly really useful award.

Google Pixel 5 review: Price and availability

The Pixel 5 costs $699 and packs 128GB of garage. Interestingly, Google isn’t providing a better storage capacity model, and the Pixel 5 does not beef up microSD cards to come up with more room to work with. There are two colors — Just Black and Sorta Sage.

The Pixel 5 is offered unlocked, the place you'll take it to any provider of your choosing, or thru AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular and Google Fi. 

Google has designed the Pixel 5 to hook up with both sub-6GHz low- and mid-band 5G networks, in addition to millimeter-wave ones, which means that it supports the full gamut of 5G provider no matter which provider you're taking it to. That stated, I by no means skilled spectacular speeds all over my time with the phone, even if I took place to be in differ of AT&T’s nationwide 5G network. In reality, the speeds I saw were persistently within the single digits in relation to megabits according to 2nd — of course, your mileage might vary.

Google Pixel 5 review: Design

If you may have seen a Google-branded telephone in the ultimate yr or two, you could have nearly observed the Pixel 5. All of Mountain View's modern handsets are remarkably easy and minimalist in terms of design, with small hole-punch front-facing cameras and tiny bezels encircling the show. On the again, there's a fingerprint sensor and a square digital camera module packing twin optics — and that's just about it.

There are, on the other hand, a couple minute main points to point out related to the Pixel 5's design. Whereas the corporate's more cost-effective devices make use of matte polycarbonate, the Pixel 5's unibody housing is crafted from recycled aluminum (save for a small, invisible hole on the back beneath the paint that allows wi-fi charging — extra on that later.) The Pixel 5 may be IP68 water-proof, whilst the Pixel 4a sequence isn't.

The end on the Pixel 5 seems to have drawn conflicting opinions from quite a lot of reviewers. Some disregard the matte, nearly candied kind of coating Google has employed on this phone as cheap-feeling. Personally, although, I’m a sucker for unique materials — particularly slightly-gritty or soft-touch textures — and I love the end of the Pixel 5. I don’t know if it’s probably the most “top rate” feeling smartphone I’ve ever held, but such questions are highly subjective. Whatever Google’s completed to achieve the Pixel 5’s earthy form of end, I dig it.

I particularly dig the Sage Green model Google despatched us. This is a wonderful color of inexperienced with some faint speckles in it, giving it sort of an eggshell-like luster. It additionally performs off brilliantly in opposition to the chromed inexperienced chronic button and Google emblem at the back. I am slightly involved in this coating chipping off in high-contact areas, like across the USB-C port (my Pixel Four sadly fell sufferer to this phenomenon), however most effective time and ongoing use will expose how durable the Pixel 5’s exterior truly is.

Something else I am keen on about the Pixel 5’s design is solely how damn pocketable it is. Anyone who is aware of me knows I really like a excellent premium small telephone, and the Pixel 5 unquestionably is tiny. Google has trimmed the border around this instrument’s 6-inch show to maximize display screen genuine estate. It’s most likely the nearest any corporate has gotten to a really all-screen phone, though it’s come at a value — namely the Pixel 4’s Soli radar chip and three-D Face Unlock stack that had been formerly stashed in the height bezel.

The Pixel 5 lacks the ones components, which is disappointing for the reason that the Pixel 4's authentication method was beautiful out of the ordinary, and noticeably snappier in our checking out than Apple's Face ID in the iPhone 11 and 12 series. But with maximum everyone still the usage of face mask, possibly it is not all bad.

As such, you’ll have to are living with an effective-yet-dated rear-mounted fingerprint sensor within the Pixel 5. This more than likely isn’t a deal breaking proposition for an old-school Android user, despite the fact that I will surely consider some people recoiling in worry at the considered inputting a PIN code when their device is lying flat on a desk. You too can swipe on that fingerprint sensor to pull down or withdraw the notification color.

Thus, there is a sense of shape triumphing over serve as with the Pixel 5’s design, even though I’m for my part no longer very by that for the reason that result is so attention-grabbing and compact. It’s feather-light, too — at just 5.33 oz, the Pixel 5 is greater than an oz lighter than the iPhone 11 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus, which you unquestionably feel the instant you dangle and examine.

Google Pixel 5 review: Display

The Pixel 5’s 6-inch OLED show touts a full-HD resolution and 90Hz height refresh charge, which you'll drop all the way down to 60Hz within the software’s settings in the event you so choose. The refresh price isn’t variable in keeping with se — not like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s display, it may possibly’t accelerate or down dynamically to any tempo at will — regardless that Google says the Pixel 5 switches between 60Hz and 90Hz depending on the kind of content material presented.

It's worth noting that the Pixel 4a 5G also options an OLED panel with the same solution because the Pixel 5's display. But the refresh rate on the 4a 5G is capped at 60Hz, so that's one house the place Google's flagship outdoes the cheaper 5G option.

Pretty a lot all of those traits have been true of the Pixel 4’s panel, although, meaning that not a lot has changed on the display front this go-around. Mind you, that’s now not a criticism, taking into account the Pixel 4’s screen used to be lovely stellar all around. For what it’s value, the Pixel 5 is no less than better at maintaining 90Hz at low brightness levels — one specific space where the previous instrument struggled.

Colors on the Pixel 5 strike a very good stability between muted realism and cartoonish oversaturation. Watching the trailer for the splendidly surreal Iron Mask, I was so impressed via the fidelity with which the Pixel 5’s panel rendered Arnold Schwarzenegger’s magnificent sideburns that I momentarily forgot to chortle on the prospect of Arnold Schwarzenegger with sideburns.

The Pixel 5’s show will get decently vibrant, regardless that now not as brilliant as its competition, topping out at 610 nits when adaptive brightness is enabled. For comparability’s sake, the $599 iPhone 11 controlled 652 nits, whilst the Galaxy S20 FE controlled 679 nits. Meanwhile, Google’s telephone covered 128.8% of the sRGB color area, which took place to be barely punchier than the 122.8% of the dearer Galaxy Note 20.

Google Pixel 5 review: Camera

The Pixel 5 features a dual-lens digital camera method that is equivalent parts familiar and new for Google's handsets. The primary 12.2-megapixel lens is a mainstay of the Pixel brand; it's been around because the Pixel 2 days, and Google mostly depends on device improvements to repeatedly fortify its output.

The secondary shooter, however, is a new 16MP ultrawide digital camera, which replaces the telephoto lens employed in last 12 months's model. Google drew grievance for offering a telephoto lens with an overly slight optical zoom benefit in the Pixel 4, slightly than an ultrawide optic. I believe this was once the fitting name, as I believe maximum Pixel 5 patrons will in finding the addition of an ultrawide camera more useful than a telephoto — particularly making an allowance for Google’s Super Res Zoom era is so fine at reaching lossless virtual zoom.

Here, we see a comparability between the ultrawide shooters on the Pixel 5 and also brand-new OnePlus 8T, and it’s truthfully arduous to make a choice from the two. While OnePlus’ digicam demonstrates a much broader field-of-view, the tradeoff is extra distortion at the fringes than you’ll understand within the Pixel 5’s rendition. On the other hand, Google’s superior processing deftly colours in those darker, shadowy regions about halfway down the alley, with extra nuanced blacks, grays and dark vegetables than OnePlus’ extra contrast-heavy tuning can give.

Heading inside of, we have a couple of portraits of yours truly that highlight how the Pixel 5 helps to keep Google firmly in the best camera phone dialog. Everything about the Pixel 5’s take is sharper, from my beard, hair and pores and skin to the fibers in my sweater. I’m also impressed with the awesome gradation in colour within low-light spaces (like my left shoulder), and easily happy with how a lot more real looking the colours are all around. There’s simply no contest right here.

The bar above offers a just right alternative to reveal the Pixel 5’s excellence in dealing with medium-lighting eventualities that present a general lack of herbal light with intense synthetic resources, like neon signs. This is most often a difficult scenario for telephones, and while I feel as although each these devices navigate it smartly, the Pixel 5 edges OnePlus’ easiest efforts because of its ability to isolate the brightest lighting fixtures and hone in on textures, just like the specular highlights glinting off the concrete countertop and the rustic picket floor underneath.

Here, 2x virtual zoom used to be used on both the Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T, and once again it’s Google’s tool that sticks out with better definition, bolder colours and pleasing distinction. The tree near the center of the body denotes a clear level of difference between these two photos; on the Pixel 5, you'll be able to discern between the individual leaves, whereas the OnePlus 8T melds all of them into one amorphous, verdant blob.

However, it wasn’t all easy crusing for the Pixel 5. In this case we see it fight at dusk, bathing the entire alley sooner than you in a deep and desolate blue. The OnePlus 8T balanced the entire colors in the body higher, although it fell down once once more within the sharpness department.

But when things get actually darkish and it’s time to name upon Night Sight, the Pixel 5 in point of fact shines. The iPhone 11 Pro costs $three hundred more than the Pixel 5, and I’d say its efficiency here isn’t anyplace near the level of Google’s tool. Everything is far too warm, and constancy is obviously lacking within the big tree at the middle and the garden nearest to the digicam. The Pixel is also way more a success at correctly representing the colors of quite a lot of objects in the scene, just like the tree’s greenish-yellow leaves and the maroon sedan parked on an adjacent boulevard.

Apple’s flagship phone is extra liable to noise judging through this image, regardless that it needs to be said that the iPhone did process this photograph in virtually half the time it took the Pixel 5 to do the same — Three seconds, versus 5. That’s obviously a case of Apple’s hardware flexing its muscle relative to the some distance much less powerful Pixel, which we’ll explore a little bit later in this review.

Finally, we finish on every other pair of pictures of your humble reviewer — despite the fact that, this time, I spurned the assistance of a prepared party and employed the Pixel 5’s front-facing 8MP digital camera to capture it.

Again, this is any other case the place Google’s imaging outperforms rivals with way more impressive specifications on paper, using a mixture of unusual hardware and bizarre device. The OnePlus 8T would possibly have a 32MP selfie shooter, however it obviously hasn’t helped a lot, in line with the unflattering reddish tone that tool’s camera lent to shadows in my face. Of direction the Pixel’s result could stand to be a hair sharper, but overall, a minimum of it left me taking a look like there was once life left in my eyes.

Before we transfer on from the digicam phase entirely, we must observe that Google has punched up its video recording arsenal with the Pixel 5’s free up by means of offering a spread of digital stabilization modes. There’s same old stabilization, which seeks to boring tremors caused via shaky palms, as well as modes targeted for taking pictures subjects at far distances, another for lively or fast-moving topics, and but any other for slow-motion, panning photographs.

The new stabilization choices work neatly, although they’re in no way resistant to judder. You will realize moments the place the digital camera interpolates frames in a blurry type to decrease the sensation of surprising movement, so it’s still vital to take care to take care of composure when shooting.

Google Pixel 5 review: Performance

Google’s resolution to equip the Pixel 5 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor, quite than the Snapdragon 865 employed by the quickest Android flagships, has definitely left critics and enthusiasts alike scratching their heads.

It’s no longer that the 765G is poor silicon — far from it. The 765 collection certainly delivers just right enough efficiency within the likes of the OnePlus Nord and LG Velvet. Rather, the skepticism stems from where the Pixel 5 sits inside Google’s roster of phones.

As it occurs, the 765G may be employed in the Pixel 4a 5G, which costs $200 much less than the Pixel 5. And to make issues much more complicated, Google’s insistence on going with a more modest CPU method the brand new Pixel 5 isn’t at the same time as immediate as ultimate year’s Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.

Google’s strategy right here befuddles me to no finish, despite the fact that that’s a dialogue for another day. The extra urgent concern is what all that means for the Pixel 5’s efficiency, and I’m happy to document that a minimum of this phone doesn’t feel as sluggish as some will concern it's.

To Google’s credit score, the corporate has bumped up the RAM in this device to 8GB, which is more than the Pixel Four had at its disposal. (It's additionally greater than the 6GB of reminiscence within the Pixel 4a 5G.) And the 90Hz show definitely promotes the semblance of pace with each tap and scroll, although the hardware under the skin is decidedly extra pedestrian.

But in fact, the numbers aren’t encouraging. In the system-wide Geekbench 5 check, the Pixel 5 delivered a multicore rating of 1,617 points. That’s no doubt a far cry from the Galaxy S20 FE’s 2,928 issues, making this a great time to reiterate that the Galaxy S20 FE costs exactly the similar as the Pixel 5. To add insult to damage, the now-defunct Pixel Four scored 2,329 issues.

In spite of that gulf basically efficiency, it’s no longer on a regular basis tasks where you’re prone to take a look at the bounds of that 765G chip. Rather, that’s best possible reserved for extra strenuous pursuits, like gaming. In GFXBench’s Vulkan Aztec Ruins graphics take a look at for high-tier gadgets, the Pixel 5 totaled 438 frames, averaging 7 frames in keeping with second. The Galaxy S20 FE, then again? 1,325 frames at 21 frames according to 2d. That’s exactly 3 times higher.

A greater pass judgement on of real-world efficiency is our video encoding take a look at, where we task devices with transcoding a brief 4K video clip to 1080p in Adobe’s Premiere Rush app. The iPhone 11 was in a position to do that in 46 seconds. The Pixel 5 needed 2 mins and 25 seconds.

Indeed, you'll play video games on the Pixel 5; they only received’t look all that good, or run as smoothly as they would on beefier hardware. I will be able to attest to the fact that Asphalt 9 Legends is certainly playable on this instrument, although I’d much moderately revel in that arcade racer on a telephone just like the OnePlus 8T, which in reality has the power to max out its 120Hz show whilst running that tough title.

The Pixel 5 isn’t slow, and I in truth doubt the vast majority of users are prone to understand what continual it lacks. But I also consider that at $700, you will have to get the most in your money — and after two or three years of possession, when things start to lavatory down, I’d relatively have one thing that used to be more tough firstly.

Google Pixel 5 review: Battery lifestyles and charging

Previous Pixel phones have indisputably struggled within the battery division, so the Pixel 5's 4,080-mAh chronic pack will confidently cross a long solution to quelling the ones considerations. That's an increase of just about 1,three hundred mAh in comparison to the Pixel 4, and I imagine it must were a large engineering feat to shoehorn one of these gigantic battery into such a small footprint and thin frame.

In Tom’s Guide’s customized battery check, where gadgets without end load internet pages over a data connection till they run out of juice, the Pixel 5 lasted for 9 hours and 29 mins at its default 90Hz mode. That’s an development of one hour and 26 mins over the Pixel 4, also when running at 90Hz. Some would possibly argue that’s a slightly underwhelming appearing given the massive building up in battery capability, regardless that it’s important to indicate that the Pixel 5 has power-guzzling 5G modems and radios the Pixel 4 never needed to care for.

It’s additionally right in line, if no longer a bit of higher than the Pixel 5’s current Android opponents. The Galaxy S20 FE also managed Nine hours, but that was once at 60 Hz; try that same check on the telephone’s optimal 120Hz setting, and it would usually underperform that outcome by way of a minimum of some other hour.

Likewise, if you want to maximize battery lifestyles as much as possible with the Pixel 5, you can go for 60Hz as a substitute of 90Hz. Running the check this fashion, we saw an growth of about 30 minutes.

But battery assessments simplest tell a part of the story within the Pixel 5’s case. Google’s lavished a wealth of battery-extending tool on the Pixel 5, together with its Adaptive Battery components that intelligently regulates persistent draw so that simplest the apps you utilize the most eat the majority of it. Additionally, a brand new Extreme Battery Saver mode goes even additional, pausing process for all apps except for for the ones you deem very important.

Like the Pixel Four before it, the Pixel 5 can fee wirelessly. The distinction this time is that the phone can also wirelessly price other units, using Google’s new Battery Share characteristic. If you happen to have a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, as an example, with a wi-fi charging case, you'll be able to rest them at the back of the Pixel 5 for somewhat boost.

Google Pixel 5 review: Software and special options

As you’d be expecting with any Google telephone, the Pixel 5 launches with Android Eleven and is guaranteed 3 years of major updates. Android Eleven provides some advisable features, like display recording, bubbles for messaging apps and the facility to grant brief permissions to apps; you can learn our full Android 11 review for a deeper dive into what’s new.

But this being a Google phone, the Pixel 5’s device story is ready more than just having the newest version of Android. Google has once again proficient its own telephones with some in reality artful features that take advantage of out of its expertise in synthetic intelligence, like Hold For Me.

Hold For Me fairly literally does what it says at the tin. If you’re placed on hang, you can name upon your Google Assistant to stay at the line for you and listen for an operator when they arrive. When that occurs, you’re notified and invited to return to the call.

Hold For Me only works for 1-800 numbers. Given that many corporations at the present time (the more humane ones, anyway) have a components where they’ll call you again when it’s your turn, I don’t quite think Hold For Me is as useful as, say, Call Screen, which will actually fend off robocalls on your behalf, or the Google Recorder with integrated transcription. But it's nice to have.

While I wasn’t in a position to use Hold For Me in a realistic scenario right through my review, my Pixel 5 did be offering me assistance once I dialed a 1-800 take a look at number. I initiated Hold For Me, and when the Google Assistant detected that the automated formulation at the other end wanted my enter, it vibrated to signal me to return to the call. Pretty neat.

Google Pixel 5 review: What concerning the Pixel 6?

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are after all here. Both phones are huge improvements over the Pixel 5 on the subject of persistent, design, and presentations. While the Pixel 5 is not dangerous at any of the ones, it has room for improvement. That's where the Pixel 6 sequence comes in.

Of course, the spotlight of the next Pixel phones is the Tensor system-on-chip, designed by means of Google. It's the first time that Google has long gone with its own silicon for a Pixel and could be the beginning of one thing glorious. 

The cameras surely carried out beyond our expectancies, especially the Pixel 6 Pro. But for extra budget-conscious consumers, the $599 Pixel 6 is a scouse borrow and has the similar Tensor chip as the Pro. It additionally has a 90Hz show and the same 50MP major and 12MP ultrawide cameras. 

Battery existence stays an issue for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but which may be right down to the older Samsung 5G modem that both phones use. Still, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are vital upgrades over the Pixel 5 and smartly price bearing in mind.

Google Pixel 5 review: Verdict

As a lot as I just like the Pixel 5, it’s arduous to make a case for purchasing one — a minimum of at full price.

The $700 mark has transform the brand new battleground for phone makers having a look to woo buyers with top-tier specs, with out forcing them to spend upward of a grand. This pageant is producing in reality compelling phones, from Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE to the OnePlus 8T and likely Apple’s just-announced iPhone 12 mini. The Pixel 5 is a poor value in light of the ones alternatives.

Mind you, there’s masses to like right here. It’s heartening to look Google in the end take battery life critically after years of disregarding that fear. And once again, I’m smitten with the refreshingly lovable, trendy and compact aesthetic Google’s settled on for the Pixel, among a sea of bulky, garish slabs.

However a phone isn’t merely a manner piece or a digicam. And speaking of the Pixel 5’s superb camera, you'll get it within the $499 Pixel 4a 5G — hell, you can get it in the $349 Pixel 4a. Since the Pixel 4a 5G offers the same twin digicam array because the Pixel 5, the similar processor and the same 5G connectivity but for $Two hundred less, it is onerous to counsel the Pixel 5 over Google's more economical phone in case you are on the lookout for a 5G software.

Those who love Pixel telephones accomplish that because of the tool, and Google has accomplished well to make that software out there in much more affordable phones. Unfortunately for Google, that very ambition has virtually neutralized any reason why one might want to purchase a Pixel 5.

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