Pixel 5 owner thoughts: Redemption...ish


  • Battery life
  • No glass back + retaining wireless charging
  • Class matching photo quality
  • Improved video quality
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 5G support for futureproofing
  • Performance is great for 99% of tasks


  • Unless you need waterproofing, it doesn’t offer a ton more than the 4a 5G
  • Confusing marketing strategy will hinder the public perception of the phone
  • Video quality likely still not up to par with Samsung/Apple
  • Minimal design not to everyones taste
  • Spec-nerds/many YouTube reviewers will scoff at the the “mid-spec” processor and same main camera sensor/lens combo and jump to conclusions

Last year after getting my Pixel 4, I wrote a post here (Pixel 4 thoughts: a good phone let down by Google's bad bets) outlining the three bets Google made on last year’s model that backfired on them. This year’s Pixel 5 address all three of these issues and includes a move back to a reliable fingerprint sensor (extremely useful advantage over face unlock in modern-mask wearing scenarios) and the unexpected move back to an aluminum rear casing, while maintaining wireless charging convienence.

Battery life has been solid to excellent so far. I’m a heavy daily user of my phone: I synchronise 2 x work email accounts + gmail, push notifications for all, have bluetooth connected to my Withings watch and aeropex headphones most of the day & commute daily in areas of limited/weak mobile signal while streaming video/music for entertainment. With my Pixel 4 probably hitting the 40% mark at lunch time with this usage, the Pixel 5 is easily making it through till home time with 45-50% left. Of course this is a brand new battery, but the bigger capacity is showing it’s worth in combination with the less power hungry processor.

Performance has been on par with my Pixel 4…for my use. Now if you like to play graphic intensive games or edit 4K video on your phone you might notice the difference but even when I’m editing RAW files in Lightroom mobile, I’m not noticing a significant disadvantage compared to the Pixel 4. When taking photos, even with the lack of the Pixel core for camera processing the speed to generate the final image after capture isn’t much worse than the 4; not too sure what reviewers are complaining about here.

Speaking of the camera, the most annoying comments I’ve seen from reviewers is criticising Google for sticking with the same sensor+lens combo yet still praising the photos in particular as great, although no longer class leading as it was in the Pixel 2 days. The common thought out there is that with better hardware Google would be able to get better results from it’s algorithims.

The issue I have with this is the same as the assumption that a technically better camera will get you better photos. If you take a photographer with camera gear from a few years ago (older sensor/processor) but who understands how to get the best out of that hardware; handing them a brand new top spec camera won’t neccasarily make their photos better.

Google themselves have mentioned this as the reason why they stuck with the same camera hardware (https://www.theverge.com/21496686/pixel-5-camera-comparison-sensor-specs-features). Given they are still producing results in photos that can be compared to newer hardware from the top manufacturers, and often is preferred by those who like the “look” of the Pixel’s processing; it’s a strange thing to criticise their consistency of results.

The camera is what you expect, with a ultrawide this year instead of the telephoto for even more flexibility. It is a shame that Google’s proven photo quality is, predictably, dismissed in the review space because of the lack of something new.

I’m very happy with the Pixel 5 coming from the 4. But in the end, the biggest barrier to the Pixel 5’s success is the Pixel 4a 5G. Bang for buck, the 4a 5G gives you 90% of the phone for 70% of the price. Want to save even more and can sacrifice a little performance/battery life to maintain the smooth experience and photo quality, the standard 4a is half the cost.

Side-note Once again, I find myself liking the Pixel fabric case despite initially regretting the purchase. I still have a ultra-thin case and screen protector on the way but it’s likely I’ll stick with the fabric case regardless.


Hopefully you’re not going to suffer any of the quality issues Paul is talking about:

Hope not, I’ve been pretty lucky to avoid this with all my Pixel phones so far

Thanks for the lengthy review. I suppose most reviews expect this year’s phone to be better than last year’s phone in all areas. It’s clear from the specs and reviews that the 5 doesn’t deliver this but that wasn’t the intention for this phone.

I pre ordered one and am waiting on it coming which I looking forward to. It’s going to be a step up from my 3a.

I’ll need to look for a case since I didn’t order a Google one.

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Thanks for this. Will hang on another month to see what Google do with their prices this year, but this 5 suits me I think. I don’t want a flagship, bleeding edge phone, but want the camera.

For years I’ve had great phones but the camera is always described as ‘a good effort, but not quite as good as a Pixel’.

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Intention of the phone is the key. The intent is very different between the 5 and the 4; they were punished for trying new hardware with the 4 so they went back to the fundamentals with the 5.

I’m still considering a more heavy duty case with a kickstand as I like to prop my phone up and watch videos; just unsure I want to add more bulk when the phone is nice and compact.

I would seriously consider the 4a 5G if price is a key driver however, as with every year, there will be sales on the Pixels at some point.

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Not sure about the US but in Europe they dangled the carrot of free Bose Bluetooth earphones worth £200+ with pre-ordered so that made me decide not to wait for any future sale prices.

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