Should you buy… the Google Pixel 5?

Google Pixel 5 review (Google/PA)
Google Pixel 5 review (Google/PA)

It’s 5G all the way for Google this year as the firm adds the latest connection technology to its line of smartphones.

The Pixel may not be as prominent as the likes of any Apple or Samsung handset, but that doesn’t stop the tech giant from throwing its best effort each year.

So, does the Pixel 5 have a chance?

– Design and feel

Google Pixel 5 smartphone
(Jamie Harris/PA)

The Pixel has followed a pretty similar look from the beginning, though it is a texture-coated aluminium body once again for wireless charging.

While giving the device that added bit of grip, the smoothness doesn’t quite give the same premium feel that the Pixel 4 did.

It’s worth noting that the fingerprint sensor has returned instead of using facial ID, which is actually a welcome move – it’s more comfortable, works on more banking apps and is ideal during the age of face coverings.

The Pixel 5 is also very light at 151g, despite upgrades on the inside.

‘Just Black’ and ‘Sorta Sage’ are the only colour options available, both a bit safe compared to some of Google’s previous catchy colours.

– Performance and software

Google Pixel 5 smartphone
(Jamie Harris/PA)

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor is used on this handset, which isn’t the strongest on the market at the moment but most people will be stretched to notice.

Running multiple apps simultaneously fails to slow down the Pixel 5 noticeably.

As ever, being a Google device means swift access to the latest version of Android – which is currently 11 – as well as the purest take on the operating you are likely to see.

Unfortunately there are a few minor but annoying software bugs that tarnish the experience, such as apps like the alarm not responding when selected from the notification tray.

– Camera

Google Pixel 5 smartphone photography
(Jamie Harris/PA)

Pixel has consistently excelled when it comes to photography capabilities but improvements have been slow meaning others have been able to catch up.

You can still expect fantastic shots from the 12.2-megapixel main camera – and the lenses themselves are far less obstructive physically than most rivals.

One welcome improvement is the fact it is now ultra-wide, so more people can fit into a shot – though again, this is merely catching up with handsets already doing this.

Many of Google’s upgrades come on the software-end, with things like a new portrait light editing system that allows you to change the lighting intensity, which works really well.

On the front, Google has opted for a pin hole camera to the left of the display, providing more screen space to enjoy.

– Battery

Google Pixel 5 smartphone
(Jamie Harris/PA)

Google has upped the battery capacity to 4080 mAh, which comfortably gives you a day’s life with regular use – though some rivals already have batteries much larger than this.

An extreme battery saver system has been introduced in the Pixel 5, a feature that drives the phone’s power consumption down to a bare minimum, and even drops its 5G capabilities down to 4G.

– Storage

Google Pixel 5 smartphone
(Jamie Harris/PA)

With only 128GB available, this might not be enough for those who like to store photos, videos and music on their device.

Plus there is no external SD card storage option to offset this.

Google is still offering Pixel owners unlimited storage of any photos and videos kept on its cloud service – though not at original quality, down-scaled to high quality – but this is not always ideal of convenient if you are without a good data connection.

– Conclusion

At £599, Google has managed to squeeze the price down for a 5G phone with premium features, but there are still plenty of others that are cheaper out there.

While the Pixel 5 packs some worthwhile features, it feels like it hasn’t evolved enough from its predecessor – aside from 5G, but remember coverage from network providers is only just starting.

Others have caught up with the Pixel on several fronts like the camera and the Pixel 5 does not do enough to keep that lead.

If you’re prepared to lose some features like wireless charging, it might be best to go for the new Pixel 4 5G instead, which is £100 cheaper.

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