I'm not used to starting with a spoiler, but this Google Pixel 5 review leaves no room for doubt: it's a great smartphone. In one year, and after a more than disappointing Pixel 4, Google's progress has been considerable, and its choices are paying off.
With this Pixel 5, Google offers us a smartphone simple, autonomous, and at the right price. The American continues its momentum, the Pixel 4a had already amazed us, just like the Pixel 4a 5G, whose test is coming in the coming days.
This new Pixel line follows the same philosophy: forget about the features and focus on the experience, which is reminiscent of Apple and its iPhones. Is the Pixel 5 really a must-have? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Answer in this Google Pixel 5 test after three weeks of daily use.
Google Pixel 5 at the best price
Base price: 629 €
Pixel 5 video test
In parallel with this article, discover our video opinion after this test of Google Pixel 5. To subscribe to the Lemon Squeezer channel, it's here:
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Pixel 5 technical specifications
|Google pixel 5|
|Dimensions||144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm|
|Screen||19.5: 9 |
6 '' Full HD + OLED (2340 x 1080 pixels)
Corning Gorilla 6 Protective Glass
|Audio||No 3.5mm jack|
Two stereo speakers
GPU Adreno 620
|Storage||128 GB UFS 2.1|
|RAM||8 GB LPDDR4x|
|Recharge||Quick charge 18 W (charger supplied)|
10W wireless charging and reverse charging
|Biometrics||Fingerprint reader on the back|
2D facial recognition
|Camera|| – Wide-angle 27 mm: lens aperture of f / 1.7; 12.2 MP sensor (1 / 2.55 ''; 1.4 μm photosite); optical stabilizer|
– Ultra wide-angle: 107 ° field of view, f / 2.2 aperture
16 MP sensor (1 μm photosite)
|Front camera||8 MP sensor (1.12 μm photosite); 24mm f / 2 lens; 83 ° field of view|
802.11a / b / g / n / ac 2×2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
Bluetooth v5.0 + LE, A2DP (HD codecs: AptX, AptX HD, LDAC)
|Release date||October 15, 2020|
€ 629.00 at FNAC
Design & Hardware
Google's first choice for this Pixel 5: not to offer the most powerful SoC available to reduce the price as much as possible. The Snapdragon 765G is known for its balance between power and reduced battery consumption. Coupled with 8 GB of RAM and an Adreno 620 GPU, the Pixel 5 does very well in everyday use. It's much more powerful than the Pixel 4a, which was already very smooth to use. On the other hand, it is less swift than its predecessor, the Pixel 4.
It is a constant of this test, the Pixel 5 chose to address a very broad target, but excludes certain specific uses. If you are looking for a smartphone gaming, go your way. Its score under Antuntu Benchmark is 330,000, against 264,000 for the Pixel 4a, and 409,000 for the Pixel 4. But benchmarks are not everything.
Only one model is offered in France, with 128 GB of storage, without any possibility of expansion with a microSD card. If you need two phone numbers, you can use the NanoSIM slot and an eSIM. The Pixel 5 does not include a jack port, USB-C headphones come in the box and it is water resistant (IP 68).
The biggest complaint I have to make with the Pixel 5 after these weeks of testing, it is the choice of the speaker located on the upper part. Placed under the screen, its rendering is very unsettling. When on a call, it is very difficult to know where to put your ear to hear the best. For video, if you block the bottom speaker, you will hardly hear anything. The smartphone is sold as a stereo, it is not in use.
For its part, the 6-inch OLED screen is a real success. Its contours are symmetrical (one of the few on the market to offer it), and the 90Hz refresh rate makes the experience smoother. This is one of the major leaps forward from the Pixel 4, so the front panel design lagged the competition. To save space, the Soli sensor (which used to control the Pixel 4 with gestures) is no longer in the game.
Google is keeping the choice of a rear fingerprint sensor, which I find very convenient to use. The Pixel 5 is also very bright, and using it in direct sunlight is no problem. While a green version is sold in some markets, only the black version is available in France. Google is switching from glass to aluminum, and the applied texture is simply the nicest I've had in my hand lately. The grip is perfect, the Pixel 5 does not slip, and fingerprints are a thing of the past.
It's hard to talk about this Pixel 5 without talking about its compact size. While I'm used to large slabs (I have used the OnePlus 8 Pro for over 6 months), I am convinced that smartphones with a screen of 6 inches or less have nothing to envy to giant slabs. . The first impression left by the Pixel 4a was confirmed during my testing of the Pixel 5 over the past few weeks. Importantly for me, I have more and more trouble with too thick photo blocks, and the thinness of the Pixel 5's is a strength.
At this price, it borders on flawless.
To sum up the technical part, Google has chosen a solid SoC, which is not the most powerful on the market, the progress on the screen level is visible, and the Pixel 5 is an ultra-consistent smartphone. Without this speaker problem, and at this price, we border on faultless.
Nothing to add in this subtitle. The pure version of Android is the best, and Android 11 is pure fun. Among the new features that I appreciated, the shortcuts for connected objects when pressing the power button. Google Assistant is more and more present, while being forgotten in the interface.
For the rest, this Pixel 5 is a demonstration of what you would expect from an Android smartphone made by Google. Gone are the days of OS complexity, everything is now at your fingertips, and some actions appear without having to think about it. Another important point, the combination with 90 Hz makes the experience very smooth on a daily basis, and despite the size of the screen, features like picture-in-picture are perfectly usable, even with a compact screen.
But the most interesting software approach of this Pixel 5 is the photo.
Google Pixel 5 at the best price
Base price: 629 €
The king of the picture keeps his throne
Their name leaves no room for doubt, the Google Pixels are above all smartphones designed for photography. And Google is not changing the main 12.2 MP sensor. On the other hand, and compared to the Pixel 4, the choice of second sensor is an ultra wide angle of 16 Mpx.
There is nothing wrong with the main sensor, if you have already tested a Pixel since 3, the experience remains in the continuity of the last models. The shots are always excellent, and border on perfection in some situations. Google has simplified its application even more, night mode activating automatically for example. The latter is still as good, and the rendering remains very realistic. As everything happens at the software level, still allow a few seconds for the processing of the most complex photos. This is faster than the Pixel 4a, but slower than the Pixel 4. In use, this is no problem.
The shots are always excellent, and border on perfection in some situations.
This Pixel 5 does well in night mode, astrophotography mode is unique, and it's the best smartphone for portraits. Regarding the ultra wide-angle sensor, I'm a little more mixed. The software "magic" doesn't seem to work, and while the shots captured are very good, they don't match the quality of the main sensor. We still remain at the top of the photophone podium with this Pixel 5, although I would really like to see how Google fares with more advanced sensors.
Video-wise, it's not as good as an iPhone 11 Pro, or the Samsung S20 and Note 20. On the front, the selfie sensor does very well too, and I like the new feature. “Portrait lighting”, which allows you to simulate the positioning of a light source.
We therefore keep in this Pixel 5 a recipe proven in terms of the photo and video experience. The Pixel 6 will certainly have to make more choices in terms of hardware, as the competition (Apple in the lead) has made progress in terms of photography in recent months.
My conclusion is therefore the same as on the Pixel 4a: " the pixel photo experience is more like computer art than photographic art. No need to master the concepts of aperture, shutter speed or ISO, you grab your Pixel 5, aim, and pull out a really nice shot. "The only difference between the two models is the presence of a dedicated ultra-wide-angle on the Pixel 5, support for 4K at 60 fps, and especially 280 € difference …
Google Pixel 5 autonomy: finally!
If you've read our Pixel 4 review, the battery life was just abysmal. On the Pixel 4a it was much better. After several weeks of testing the Pixel 5, it is certain: its battery life is excellent. The choice of a less energy-consuming SoC, and especially a much larger battery (4,080 mAh for the Pixel 5 vs 2,800 mAh for the Pixel 4) easily explain this.
This Pixel 5 lasts for a long time, or even longer depending on your use. To give you an idea, it is 11:20 am when I wrote this sentence, I took it out of the charger at 7.20 am, listened to 30 minutes of podcast + classic use, it has 88% battery left. The Pixel 5 is compatible with wireless charging, and supports reverse wireless charging.
To catch up with the competition on Android, the only thing missing from the range / recharge pair is faster recharging. With its 18W, allow more than an hour and ten to recharge, when some competitors like the OnePlus 8T today only need 35 minutes for a full charge.
Google has made some excellent choices for this Pixel 5 when it comes to the battery, and unlike the previous version, this is no longer a barrier to buying.
My opinion on the Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5 at the best price
Base price: 629 €
This Pixel 5 is a success. All the weak points of the Pixel 4 have been fixed : screen, design, battery, nothing is forgotten. Its compact size is its strength and, although the processor is not the most powerful on the market, it does perfectly well in the majority of cases. This is a demonstration that experience is more important than pure characteristics.
The important question is: should you buy the Google Pixel 5? The answer is yes… but. In the last few months, I also tested the Pixel 4a, which made a very strong impression on me. If on paper it is less well endowed than the Pixel 5 (plastic, smaller battery, a single sensor, no IP68, no 90 Hz, etc.), the experience is not really different between the two models. The same goes for the Pixel 4a 5G, which is closer to the Pixel 5 in terms of characteristics.
For me the Pixels offer excellent value for money this year, and their real competition is in their own range. So if you want the best of the best, this Pixel 5 is perfect for its 629 €. If you're willing to make small concessions, the Pixel 4a (€ 349.00), and Pixel 4a 5G (€ 499) allow you to save a lot of money.