We tested the Pixel 5, Google’s new spearhead that should now be placed in the mid-range category, strange as that sounds. What is this new version worth against the Pixel 4 of 2019, and above all, is it doing better or worse than the competition, which is always more aggressive on prices?
Casually, in just two weeks, three smartphones Google just marketed. Released on 1er Last October, the Pixel 4a is already joined by two other models: the Pixel 4a 5G on the one hand … And on the other, Google’s new spearhead: the Pixel 5. Finally, “spearhead” may not be the right term, since we talk about flagship, we usually expect a high-end smartphone, like the Pixel 4 was last year.
This time, Google has decided to change its mind, offering a Pixel 5 which, by virtue of its technical sheet, falls within the category of mid-range devices. The device’s price has also been revised downwards compared to the Pixel 4, although it may seem higher for a mid-range than the competition. Found on this 6 ″ smartphone Snapdragon 765G, only two sensors behind 12.2 MP (wide-angle) and 16 MP (ultra-wide-angle), and a simple front camera 8 MP… All for a price of $ 140 less than the Pixel 4 of last year.
But ultimately, what is the new device worth, whether in terms of power, photos, autonomy or design? And above all, what is its place against the competition, and in particular the Galaxy S20 FE, Mi 10T Pro and other OnePlus 8T? We have tested the device and give you all our conclusions.
Price and availability
The Pixel 5 is available as of October 15, 2020 and is priced at € 629. There is only one version of the device (Google skipped the Pixel 5 XL this year). For any pre-order made between September 30 and October 14, Google is giving away a headset, and not just any, since it is a Bose QC35 II.
In terms of colors, the device is available in two versions: black or green. However, the green edition does not seem intended for the European market. However, this is the same green version that we received for our test, the European charger being indeed present in the box of the device.
Last little detail: Google also markets an official case for 45 €. We also received it with our test copy of the phone, we tell you about it below.
Pixel 5 Spec Sheet
|Screen||OLED 6 “Gorilla Glass 6|
|Definition||1080 x 2340 pixels 90Hz
ratio 19.5: 9
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes (on the back)|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G (7nm)|
|Internal memory||128 GB|
|Camera||Main: 12.2 MP, f / 1.7 27mm, 1.4µm
16 Megapixel Ultra Wide Angle (f / 2.2)
|Selfie sensor||8 MP, f / 2.0, 24mm, 1.12µm|
|Reverse wireless charging||Yes|
The first thing you notice when you take the device out of the box is its very small footprint. Weighing only 148 grams, it measures 14.47 x 7.04 cm, and is only 8 mm thick. Among all the mid-range or high-end smartphones that we were able to test this year, this one undoubtedly wins the award for lightness and compactness.
If the smartphone will seem very small to those who are used to handling a smartphone from any other competing brand, or almost, we observe that it still hasa 6 ″ slab. In terms of size, it sits between the Pixel 4 (5.7 ″) and the Pixel 4 XL (6.3 ″). It’s even bigger than the Pixel 4a and its 5.8 ″ display.
The device can boast of a excellent ability to be handled. Its perfectly rounded edges at each of its four angles, its screen also rounded on each of its edges (not to say slightly curved) make it a smartphone super pleasant to use on a daily basis.
On the front, the smartphone has a small notch located at the top left. It’s the infamous “hole” in the screen already found on the Pixel 4a that some hate, while others ignore it at all. For our part, we are more on the side of the 2e proposal, but ultimately everything is a matter of taste.
Also on the front, if we note that the black borders of the screen are quite discreet, it is especially the absence of speaker that we notice, speaker usually placed on the screen panel or in its upper border. And yet, the device does have a second speaker, in addition to the one on its lower edge. This is one of the innovations that the Pixel 5 has over previous models: the second speaker of the smartphone is located below the screen. In fact, while this is new to a Google phone, other competing models are already taking advantage of this kind of technology. This is the case, for example, with the P30 and P40 from Huawei, the Mi Mix from Xiaomi or the G8 from LG. Aesthetically speaking, the technology is undeniably a big plus.
The rear of the device is also particularly attractive. Google, used to matte backs, does it again and gives us here a most successful smartphone. Whether it’s the black or green version, the Pixel 5 has a very slightly grainy (or sandblasted) aluminum back. Its surface is not smooth, which gives it a very good grip … And above all, it avoids fingerprints.
Google does not provide any cover with the device, but does market protection on its site (see the price which stings a little higher). The hull is super robust and weighs 26 grams. However, it may not be justified. The device alone looks downright solid.
On the connection side, there is a single USB-C port, located as it should be at the bottom of the device. To its right, there is a small speaker, just like on the previous model. And to the left of the USB-C port is a “fake” speaker meant to make the whole thing look better. As usual, there is no jack on the new Google smartphone, the connector having said goodbye to us from the Pixel 2. If the device does not have any Wi-Fi 6 connection (it We will therefore have to be content with Wi-Fi 5, but at this price, it was predictable), it nevertheless benefits from a 5G compatible SoC. A good point for those who wish to take advantage of a durable smartphone, even if they will have to be patient, while the infrastructure is put in place in France.
Unlock: Face Unlock pauses
On the Pixel 5, you’ll have to make do with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. Recall that on the Pixel 4, we had a facial recognition authentication method (in 3D, like Apple’s Face ID). Dubbed Face Unlock, it quickly showed a big weakness when the user had their eyes closed: the device could be unlocked even when its owner had their eyes closed. When a user was asleep, it was enough to present their own device to access their data and allow authentication on any secure site. This issue was corrected more than 6 months after the device was released with a small software update released in April 2020.
So, why not have integrated this solution on the successor of the Pixel 4? Most likely for a cost story, that goes without saying. The technology is still a long way from being profitable and completely mastered, and this is why smartphone manufacturers prefer a fingerprint sensor under the screen, whether it is optical or ultrasonic modules. . Too bad Google did not choose such a method, which is much more practical, especially given the price of the device. Other models like the Poco F2 Pro benefit from it, and they’re even cheaper, so why not the Pixel 5?
In short, the rear fingerprint sensor works wonderfully and instantly recognizes its owner without ever making a mistake (or very occasionally). But the opposite would have been surprising since this technology has been mastered for a long time.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Pixel 5 is equipped with a Snapdragon 765G. As a reminder, it was a Snapdragon 855, a more powerful SoC, which made the hearts of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL throb. At the time, the processor was one of the most powerful on the mobility market, just behind the Snapdragon 855+, which anyway equips a small number of smartphones and is intended especially for the most gamers among we. Turning to a mid-range processor clearly changes the game in terms of performance, but also in terms of prices.
But in everyday life, does the Snapdragon 765G pale in comparison to the 855? In reality, it all depends on usage. In all applications for browsing the web, messaging, working on documents or tables, and even in moderately resource-intensive games, there really is no difference. The phone responds quickly to the slightest request, and the absence of a third-party overlay means that the smartphone is never slowed down in all the daily tasks you put on it.
Predictably, the more power hungry games show some signs of weakness, unless you lower the level of detail as much as possible. But the effects of this SoC change are also evident during the shooting. Each photo taken using the Pixel 5 is reprocessed afterwards. And if the operation was completely transparent on the Pixel 4, this is not the case with its successor. While processing takes just a second or two, we can clearly see the smartphone’s slight lack of velocity compared to the previous generation.
As usual, it is not possible to increase the storage capacity of the device. And since there is only one configuration, you will have to be satisfied with the 128 GB of space delivered to the reception, period.
With the Pixel 5, Google has once again made a big splash in terms of display. Taking advantage of a definition of 1080 x 2340 pixels and a density of 432 ppi, the 6 ″ OLED screen of the device is doing really well according to the tests we have carried out using of our X-Rite i1display Pro Plus probe.
Of course, we do not benefit from a 144 Hz display, like on the Mi 10T Pro, or even 120 Hz, like on the Galaxy S20 FE. On the other hand, the screen is indeed OLED (unlike the Mi 10T Pro, therefore) and offers a refresh rate of 90 Hz, just like the Pixel 4 before it. We have often mentioned it during our previous tests, the gain between 60 and 90 Hz is not so obvious, but is more so between 60 and 120 Hz. Still, with a video game, with scrolling an image or a web page, 90 Hz are still more comfortable than 60 Hz.
Autonomy: a move upmarket
Finally ! Google has finally decided to tackle one of the main drawbacks of its smartphones: the Pixel 5 enjoys a range worthy of the name. No need to worry about the longevity of the smartphone over the day. As a reminder, the Pixel 4 held up very hard until the evening, while the Pixel 4 XL offered a little better battery life and was able to last until the next morning. But even taking this model into consideration, Google still had a lot of work to do in terms of autonomy.
The Pixel 5 is a game-changer since it comes equipped with a 4080 mAh battery. We tested this by leaving the refresh rate on 90 Hz and always using the same method of using the smartphone in various situations throughout the day. So we watched a video streamed for an hour, play for the same duration, the same thing for listening to music, make different calls for a total of one hour as well, use the GPS for the same amount of time, and of course consult the smartphone repeatedly, whether to browse the web, consult Twitter several times during the day, reply to messages on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, etc. Under such conditions, which are ultimately quite intense, the result is that the device is able to last a day and a half. As an indication, the smartphone loses 10% of its battery when playing streamed on Netflix (and not locally, which is a complete game-changer). The loss of autonomy is quite good, without being exceptional. The battery management of this Pixel 5 is finally quite close to what we saw on the OnePlus 8T and which we have just tested as well. On the other hand, the autonomy of Google’s phone is less than that of Xiaomi’s Mi 10T Pro, which has a much larger battery and does better in streamed video playback (barely 5% lost under the same conditions) .
On the charging side, the device supports fast charging … But not too fast anyway. Its 18 W battery does not make it a thunderbolt. According to our tests, the device recharges to 21% in 15 minutes, 39% in 30 minutes, 71% after 50 minutes and 89% in 1 hour. For a full charge, allow about 1 ¼ hour. We have already seen much better in the competition, in the same price range, and in particular on the OnePlus 8T which can be pumped up to the max in around 40 minutes. Good point, however: the device supports wireless charging, and can even be used to charge other QI certified devices.
As mentioned above, the Pixel 5 has a speaker located on the bottom edge of the device, and another located “under the screen”. This technology eliminates the need for a second speaker located at the top. There is no longer a gap between the screen and the edge of the device or a “hole” in the screen (like on the Pixel 4).
If the audio quality of the bottom speaker is satisfactory, that of the speaker below the screen should be reviewed. The sound travels far too diffuse, giving the impression that there is ultimately only one speaker working, the lower one. For the stereo, we will therefore come back.
Moreover, the absence of a “real” stereo (and we put the quotes, because materially speaking, there is a stereo) is not the only weak point of the Pixel 5 when it comes to audio. The device also suffers from a glaring lack of bass. And pushing the volume up a bit, without turning it to maximum, quickly makes him spit out everything he’s got.
At Google, shooting is the sinews of war. In recent years, and especially with the Pixels 3 and 4, the company has consistently redoubled its ingenuity to provide users with the ultimate in photo quality. While Google hasn’t signed a partnership with a high-profile brand like Leica (which mentioned Huawei), the company is all about software processing and achieves excellent results, in bright light as well as in low light. With the Pixel 5, you get two photo sensors on the back, and one on the front for selfies. As we do not change a winning team, the main sensor is exactly the same as that of the Pixel 4. We therefore benefit from a 12.2 MP module (f / 1.7 aperture).
If the sensor may seem a little weak compared to the competition, it is mainly thanks to the software processing carried out on each shot that the Pixel 5 comes out fully. Photos taken in full light are exemplary, even if the colors are very slightly saturated (the sky is a little too blue, for example).
The lack of optical zoom is not too much to feel when we limit ourselves to x2 or 3x maximum. Beyond that, the remark we made regarding the Mi 10T Pro during our test, and which also lacks a telephoto lens, also applies here. The image quickly becomes pixelated in places, and blurry in others.
In low light, the Pixel 5 produces good results. The image is certainly noisy, but remains usable.