As most of you know by now, Google had introduced a couple of Pixel phones recently, the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. Well, we’re here to talk about the Pixel 5, as Google did a really good job but… yeah, it could have done better. Google almost got me to buy the Pixel 5, actually. Do note that this is an opinion-type article, so my opinion will definitely be included, and considering it will, you can expect subjectivity. I’m sure that many of you will disagree with me here, but, here we go…
The Pixel 5 design has that minimalistic Nexus vibe
First and foremost, let’s talk about the design, as I want to structure this article into several parts. I, personally, love the Google Pixel 5 design, it does give me that Nexus vibe, and I loved the company’s Nexus lineup. The company did a lot of things right, in my book. The phone is not too big, and yet it’s big enough not to be small. I use my phones with one hand extremely often, the vast majority of the time, in fact. Out of my complete daily usage, I use it with one hand for like 80-percent of the time, I’d say. So, I want a phone that is somewhat easy to use with one hand.
My hands are above average, but I hate wrestling with tablet-sized phones, I really hate it. The Pixel 5, at 70mm width, and 144mm height is a perfect size, in my opinion. Google used coated aluminum for the design here, which I don’t have anything against, as it makes the phone considerably less slippery than the vast majority of devices in the same price range. The design is minimal, which is also something I personally prefer, and the bezels are almost non-existent. Google managed to trim down those bezels a lot, and they’re proportional, so you don’t get a ‘chin’ at the bottom.
The display camera hole is here, but I don’t mind it. On top of everything, the fingerprint scanner is back, and I could not appreciate it more. It’s also placed in a perfect spot on the back, and it’s fast. To top it all off, the phone is quite light at 144 grams, and that is amazing for one-hand usage. It’s not too light to feel cheap, but it’s light enough to avoid pinky finger fatigue…which is a serious condition if you ask me. So, in terms of the design, I really do not have a serious complaint… I even like the black color of the device.
The company could have done better in the flash storage department
So, the specs of this phone are my biggest gripe, to be quite honest. I don’t even mind the Snapdragon 765G inside, even though some of the competition offers the Snapdragon 865 at $700. What I have a major problem with, though, is the flash storage choice. Some of you may say “but, the phone has 8GB of RAM, you don’t need more than that!” and “128GB of storage is plenty!”, well… yes, I agree with both of those statements. Some people may want more storage for various reasons, but I’m fine with 128GB. I’m also perfectly fine with 8GB of RAM, as you simply don’t need more.
What I don’t appreciate, however, is what storage module Google decided to use here, while it was kind of forced to go with the LPDDR4X RAM. The company went for LPDDR4X RAM because the Snapdragon 765G does not support LPDDR5. UFS 2.1 flash storage is another story though, as Google could have easily opted for UFS 3.0. If you wonder whether this difference will be visible in performance, well, most probably not, at least not at first. I am, however, a geek of sorts… and I do mind. Why? Well, components are always on my mind, and I can’t escape the feeling Google pulled “an Apple” here. Apple tends to be behind when it comes to specs, and that works for the company, but I don’t want to see Google do the same. Another reason is the competition, as other OEMs are offering more in that regard.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a great example. That phone is priced at $699, and not only does it offer LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.0 storage, but it also comes with the Snapdragon 865. As if that’s not enough, the device also sports a 120Hz display, vs a 90Hz one on the Pixel 5. Truth be said, the difference in refresh rate doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s worth noting none the less. The point is, Google is a huge company, and it could have easily used newer / faster RAM and storage, at the very least, while keeping the same price. In fact, I strongly believe that it could have included the Snapdragon 865 as well at that price point.
Another good example, alongside the Galaxy S20 FE is the yet-unreleased OnePlus 8T. Based on the rumors, that seems to be quite solid, that phone will cost $599, or close to it. Despite that, it includes a flagship SoC, and better / faster RAM and storage as well, on top of a 120Hz display… similar to the Galaxy S20 FE. So… Google doesn’t really have an excuse for that here, though it’s true that not many people will complain about that.
Older (main) camera sensor shouldn’t be a problem
Google has decided to recycle the IM363 sensor from Sony yet again. Google has used this camera sensor for years now, and it is a great performer in combination with the company’s software. Some people may have issues with this, as Google could have upped the ante in this regard, but I’m fine with this. Every year the company makes one of the best camera smartphones in the market, so this doesn’t really bother me. Not to mention Google perfected the software for this camera sensor, pretty much.
It bothers me even less as Google finally decided to include an ultra-wide camera as well. That 12.2-megapixel main camera is paired with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera. Both work in collaboration with Google’s camera magic, and both will likely provide results you expect… and may even surprise some of you. The front camera is also perfectly fine at 8 megapixels, and the sensor Google opted for… at least in my book. I don’t really take many selfies, so that doesn’t matter for me.
A decently-sized battery is included, thank you Google!
As you probably recall, Google made a major mistake when it comes to battery capacity with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Well, the Pixel 4 XL was even tolerable in that regard, but that tiny 2,800mAh battery inside the Pixel 4 was… shameful. The device had to be charged up in the middle of the day even when non-intensive use was concerned. That basically ruined the phone for many users. We’ve seen many complaints regarding the phone’s battery life, and Google decided to make amends.
The Google Pixel 5 comes with a 4,000mAh battery, which should be more than enough for its 6-inch fullHD+ 90Hz display. The Snapdragon 765G is actually a benefit when it comes to battery life, as it’s less power-hungry than the Snapdragon 865 (Plus). On top of that, the company also included 18W fast wired and wireless charging, not to mention reverse wireless charging. Google could have one better in this regard as well, as 18W isn’t exactly the fastest charging out there, but that is understandable at this price point. I’d complain far more if wireless charging was omitted, but with this… I personally do not have a problem with it.
Where’s the XL model, Google?
Google has opted to release a single Pixel 5 model, not offering a successor to the Pixel 4 XL, basically. The Google Pixel 5 is not exactly a tiny phone, but it’s smaller than the vast majority of flagships out there. Many people prefer large phones these days, and even though I’m not one of them, I’ve already heard quite a few complaints when it comes to the size. Pixel phone users were expecting a Pixel with a 6.5-inch display, and that’s understandable. However, Google opted to release only one size, which usually doesn’t fit all… of course.
The Google Pixel 4 XL’s display was not that much bigger than this one, at 6.3 inches, but it’s still a difference. Besides, users were expecting thinner bezels, and thus a chance to include a larger display. Google could have easily included a 6.5-6.6-inch panel inside this phone, and make it either similar size to the Pixel 4 XL, or a bit larger. The point is, users would have more options this way. The company even released two Pixel 4a sizes, and yet it didn’t do the same for its most powerful phone this year.
There is always a chance Google may change its mind in the coming months, but that’s highly unlikely. Well, it’s unlikely based on what we’ve seen in the past. Google doesn’t have a habit of hosting more than one event dedicated to its flagship devices, so… yeah. Besides, we haven’t heard anything about the Pixel 5 XL thus far, other than the fact it has been canceled altogether. It remains to be seen if Google will stick with mid-tier Pixel phones next year as well, though. This approach is a bit odd, and even though I personally don’t mind it that much, I can see why many other users do.
Google almost got be to buy the Pixel 5, almost…
I have to say that I do believe the company did far better than last year. The Pixel 5 improved in a number of ways over the Pixel 4. However, Google could have gone the extra mile and matched the Galaxy S20 FE and upcoming OnePlus 8T in a number of other ways, while keeping the same or similar price tag. A company of Google’s size and mojo could have done it. Some people would argue that Google’s production line and pull cannot match Samsung’s or OnePlus’, but those are just excuses in my mind.
You are free to disagree, of course. Also, let me just be perfectly clear, none of what I wrote here should deter you from getting the Google Pixel 5. That phone has a lot to offer, and for the most part, I do believe did an excellent job with it. I just wanted to highlight some sore points for me personally, that you may or may not agree with. The phone still offers a minimalistic design, plenty of power, an excellent camera, wireless charging, and much more. On top of that, you’re also first in line to get Android updates, not to mention Google’s Pixel feature drops. There’s a lot to like here, and Google almost made me pull the trigger, but I won’t.
I’m reluctant to replace my OnePlus 8 smartphone with flagship-grade SoC, and faster storage as that would essentially be a downgrade of sorts. Truth be said, I’d gain wireless charging, and arguably a better camera, not to mention a more compact phone… but that just doesn’t seem to be enough. Google almost had me, but… I think I’ll pass this time around.
UPDATE: Corrected a statement in regards to RAM choices / usage.