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Google Pixel 5 review

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I find the Google Pixel 5 confusing because it is both a great phone and a strange phone. We are conditioned to believe that a newer version of something will be better than its predecessor. This is often the case.

The Pixel 5 is $100 cheaper than the Pixel4, which costs $699. The new Pixel features a larger battery, wireless reverse charging, 128GB base storage, a new ultrawide lens, and 5G connectivity.

The Pixel 5 is certainly not better. Google has decided to use a lower-tier chipset in order to save costs and has also dropped some of its more unique and advanced features like 3D Face Unlock. It is also difficult to talk about Google’s latest range-topping smartphone without mentioning its $200-cheaper sibling the pixel 4a 5G. This phone has the same processor and camera as the Pixel 5, which allows it to compete in the majority of key areas.

Our Google Pixel 5 review found a device that is both very easy to use and very confusing. Google had to make tough compromises. While the Pixel 5 is undoubtedly one of the most impressive Android phones available, it doesn’t qualify as the best value in Google’s lineup.

Editor’s Note: Our picks were crowned in the Tom’s Guide Awards for smartphones 2021. The highly recommended award went to the Pixel 5.

Google Pixel 5 Review: Price and availability

The Pixel 5 is priced at $699 and comes with 128GB storage. Google doesn’t offer a higher storage version and the Pixel 5 does not support microSD cards. This gives you more space for your work. You can choose from two colors: Just Black or Sorta Sage.

Unlocked Pixel 5 can be taken to any carrier, AT&T, Verizon and Google Fi.

Google designed the Pixel 5 so that it can connect to sub-6GHz, low- and middle-band 5G networks as well as millimeter wave ones. This means that it will support all 5G services regardless of which carrier it is connected to. Despite being within range of AT&T 5G, I didn’t experience any impressive speeds while using the phone. The speeds I experienced were consistent in the single digits of megabits per seconds — your mileage may vary.

Google Pixel 5 Review: Design

You’ve probably seen the Pixel 5 on a Google-branded phone within the past year. Mountain View’s latest handsets are extremely simple and minimalist in design. They have small holes punched front-facing cameras, and very tiny bezels surrounding the display. There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back and a square module with dual optics that packs dual optics. That’s it!

The Pixel 5’s design is not perfect, but there are a few details that you should be aware of. The company’s less expensive devices use matte polycarbonate. However, the Pixel 5’s unibody is made from recycled aluminum. There’s a tiny hole in the back that allows wireless charging. The Pixel 5 is IP68 water-resistant, while the Pixel4a series isn’t.

The reviewers have varying opinions about the Pixel 5’s finish. Some people dismiss the matte, almost caramelized coating that Google used on this phone’s finish as unprofessional. However, I am a big fan of unique materials, especially those that are slightly gritty or soft to the touch. The Pixel 5’s finish is my favorite. Although I am unsure if the Pixel 5 is the most premium-feeling smartphone I have ever owned, such questions are subjective. It’s amazing what Google has done to give the Pixel 5 an earthy finish.

The Sage Green version that Google sent me is my favorite. This beautiful shade of green has some subtle speckles that give it an eggshell-like shine. The contrast against the chromed Google logo and power button is stunning. It is possible for the coating to chip off in high-contact areas like the USB-C port. My Pixel 4 was unfortunately affected by this phenomenon. But only time and continued use will show how durable the Pixel 5’s exterior is.

Another thing I love about the Pixel 5 is its pocketability. Everybody who knows me well knows that I love small premium phones. The Pixel 5 is no exception. To maximize screen real estate, Google has reduced the border around the device’s 6-inch display. This is the closest company has come to an all-screen phone. However, it comes at a price — the Soli radar chip and 3D Face Unlock stack which were previously stored in the top bezel.

These components are missing from the Pixel 5, which is disappointing considering that the Pixel 4’s authentication system was quite phenomenal and much more responsive in our testing than Apple Face ID in the iPhone 11 or 12 series. It’s possible that it’s not as bad as you might think, given that most people still use face masks.

You’ll be stuck with the Pixel 5’s outdated rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. For an Android user of old, this is not a major dealbreaker. However, I can imagine people trembling at the idea of entering a PIN code while their phone is flat on a desk. To pull down or remove the notification shade, you can swipe on the fingerprint sensor.

The Pixel 5’s design is very minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing. The Pixel 5’s weight is feather-light at 5.33 ounces. This makes it more lightweight than the iPhone 11 Pro or Galaxy S20 Plus. You will feel this difference the moment you take it out of your hand and compare.

Google Pixel 5 Review: Display

The Pixel 5’s 6-inch OLED screen boasts full-HD resolution and a 90Hz peak refresh rate. You can also lower the refresh rate to 60Hz by changing the settings. The refresh rate isn’t adjustable per se — unlike the Galaxy Note20 Ultra’s screen, it cannot speed up or slow down dynamically to any speed at will. However, Google claims that the Pixel 5 can switch between 60Hz and 90% depending on what type of content is being presented.

It is worth noting, however, that the Pixel 4a 5G has an OLED panel with the exact same resolution as its screen. The refresh rate of the 4a5G 5G is limited to 60Hz. This means that Google’s flagship fared better than the 5G option.

The Pixel 4’s panel had almost all these characteristics. However, this means that the display has not changed much. This is not a criticism at all, as the Pixel 4’s display was quite impressive. The Pixel 5 does a better job at keeping 90Hz at low brightness levels than the Pixel 4. This is an area that the older device had problems with.

The Pixel 5’s colors strike a great balance between cartoonish oversaturation and muted realism. The trailer for Iron Mask was amazing. I was so impressed with the accuracy with which the Pixel 5 rendered Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunning sideburns, that I briefly forgot to laugh at the idea of Schwarzenegger sporting sideburns.

While the Pixel 5’s display is brighter than its competitors, it still manages to reach 610 nits with adaptive brightness enabled. The iPhone 11 had 652 nits while the Galaxy S20 F had 679 nits. Google’s phone managed to cover 128.8% sRGB, which was slightly more than the 122.8% for the more expensive Galaxy Note20.

Google Pixel 5 Review: Camera

The Pixel 5 has a dual-lens camera that is both familiar and brand new for Google’s smartphones. The Pixel brand’s primary 12.2-megapixel lens has been around since the Pixel 2. Google mainly relies on software improvements to continuously improve its output.

However, the secondary camera is a 16MP ultrawide camera that replaces last year’s telephoto lens. Google was criticized for not offering an ultrawide optic but a telephoto lens that offers a slight optical zoom advantage in its Pixel 4. This was a wise decision. I think most Pixel 5 customers will find an ultrawide camera to be more useful than a Telephoto, especially since Google’s Super Res Zoom technology allows for lossless digital zoom.

This comparison shows the ultrawide-angle shooters of the Pixel 5 as well as the brand-new . It’s hard to decide between them. The OnePlus camera has a wider field of view, but the tradeoff is greater distortion at the edges than what you will see in the Pixel 5’s rendering. Google’s superior processing, however, deftly colors those darker, shadowy areas about halfway down the alleyway with more nuanced blacks and grays than OnePlus’s more contrast-heavy tuning.

We have two portraits of you that show how the Pixel 5 keeps Google in the best-camera phone conversation. The Pixel 5’s look is sharper in every way, from my hair, skin, and beard to the fibers of my sweater. The Pixel 5’s superior color gradation, especially in low-light areas like my left shoulder, is also something I am impressed by. It just makes colors look so much more natural. This is the best.

This bar shows the Pixel 5’s ability to handle medium-lighting situations that have little natural light and intense artificial sources like neon signs. This is a typical situation for phones and I believe both of these devices can navigate it well. However, the Pixel 5 edged OnePlus’ best efforts due to its ability to focus on textures and isolate brightest light sources.

The Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T both have 2x digital zoom. Google’s device stands out again with sharper definition, bolder colors, and a pleasing contrast. The center-right tree denotes a distinct point between these photos. On the Pixel 5, it’s easy to see the individual leaves; on the OnePlus 8T, you can blend them into one amorphous, verdant blob.

The Pixel 5 wasn’t always easy. This is an example of the Pixel 5 struggling at dusk. It bathes the alley in a dark and desolate shade. The OnePlus 8T was able to balance all colors better, but it still fell short in sharpness.

The Pixel 5 shines when it gets dark and you need Night Sight. The iPhone 11 Pro is $300 more expensive than the Pixel 5 and its performance isn’t as good as Google’s. The photos are too warm and there is a lack of fidelity in the large tree at the middle and the grass next to it. Pixel also does a better job of accurately representing colors of objects, such as the greenish-yellow leaves in the tree and the maroon sedan that is parked on a nearby street.

This image shows that Apple’s flagship phone is less susceptible to noise. However, the iPhone processed this same photo in just 3 seconds as the Pixel 5 — a difference of almost half of the Pixel 5’s time. This is clearly an example of Apple’s hardware showing off its power relative to the much less powerful Pixel. We’ll discuss this later in the review.

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