Google Pixel 5 hands-on review

Last Update 2020-10-01


Following months of leaks, Google Pixel 5 is finally official. Google unveiled its new flagship phone today (Sept. 30) at its “Launch Night In” event, though the Pixel 5 certainly isn't a flagship in the traditional sense. It lacks the most powerful hardware, and starts at just $699. Google introduced the new Pixel 5 alongside the Google Pixel 4a 5G, Google Nest Audio, and Chromecast with Google TV.

Price and release date

Google Pixel 5 costs $699. Pre-orders for the Pixel 5 start today ahead of availability in eight countries on October 15, and the US on October 29. If you pre-order one between now and October 14, you'll be receiving a free pair of Bose QC 35 II wireless headphones. This offer is only valid in Germany, France, Ireland, and the UK. The phone packs 128GB of storage and it doesn't support a microSD card to expand that capacity further.

Design and display

The Google Pixel 5 has an aluminum body and it comes in Just Black and Sorta Sage color options. It offers IPX8 water and dust resistance and it arrives with a colored power button, as all previous Pixel devices have done. On the back panel, there is a square-shaped camera setup in the top left corner that features two lenses and the flash. The handset also has a fingerprint sensor for security option on the back side. The front of the Pixel 5 has a punch-hole camera in the top left of the display, allowing for a bezel-free design. USB Type-C is present at the bottom of the device for charging but there's no 3.5mm headphone jack here. The phone also comes with stereo speakers. The phone weighs 151 grams, and it has dimensions of 144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm.

Not much has changed on the display front for the Pixel 5, with the phone's 6-inch, full-HD OLED display providing few enhancements over the panel found in last year's Pixel 4. The 90Hz refresh rate returns here again, which is a nice thing, and should offer a noticeable bump in smoothness and general usability without excessively draining battery as 120Hz does.

Front and rear cameras

Cameras-wise, you can expect the same setup as on the Google Pixel 4a 5G. It has a dual rear camera setup which includes a 12.2MP primary sensor with f/1.7 aperture and 1.4μm pixel width. The secondary sensor, however, is a new 16MP ultrawide camera, which replaces the telephoto lens employed in last year's Pixel 4. Google was criticized by some for offering a telephoto lens with a very slight optical zoom advantage in the Pixel 4, rather than an ultrawide sensor that might've been more useful to owners. Even without the presence of a telephoto, the Pixel 5 still benefits from Google's Super Res Zoom technology, which employs artificial intelligence to digitally zoom without losing detail. Google has added Night Sight to Portrait Mode and added a new Portrait Light feature that lets you adjust the light striking your face. In fact, via the Google Photos app, you'll be able to add Portrait Light effects to photos you may have taken years ago.

Processor, software, and battery

Unlike previous Pixel flagships, Google Pixel 5 doesn't feature the high-end SoC you'd expect. Instead, the company has used Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, which won't be as powerful as the chipsets you find in phones like the OnePlus 8 or Samsung Galaxy Note 20. There's 8GB of RAM in the phone, and 128GB of storage. There's no microSD support, and Google has yet to unveil any other storage variants for the Pixel 5 so you'll be limited to just 128GB.

The Google Pixel 5 comes with Android 11 out of the box, which is the company's latest version of its operating system. You can expect this phone to get solid updates over the next few years at least. You get 5G connectivity on the Pixel 5 as well. There's a 4,080mAh battery inside the handset, and the company has also included wireless charging. It also arrives with a reverse-charging feature called Battery Share, so you can use your Pixel 5 to charge supported devices. It supports 18W fast-charging. Google claims the Pixel 5 will last a full day from a single charge.