- Well calibrated Oled screen.
- Satisfactory performance.
- Nice photo performance.
- good autonomy
- No mini-jack socket or microSD port.
- “Quick charge” not so fast.
- Not the most versatile photophone.
Google has opted for a new strategy for its Pixel 5. No more high-end, the mobile focuses on practical aspects such as photography, autonomy and the software experience of the American giant. A gamble that could well pay off…
Although Pixel 5 takes over from Pixel 4, it does not improve it in all respects. As if Google was trying to rationalize its flagship smartphone, without necessarily making it the ultimate reference. The Google Pixel 5 is no longer a high-end mobile in the same way as the Pixel 4 was. Launched at €629, it is competing against competitors such as the Xiaomi Mi 10 or the OnePlus 8. The Pixel 5 enters the still limited circle of 5G-compatible smartphones at the end of 2020.
Ergonomics and design
While Google was doing something original with its Pixel 4, the company has returned to more up-to-date standards for Pixel 5. The American mobile abandons several elements that made the previous model a device apart. Exit the Motion Sense, based on the famous Soli project. Exit also the secure facial recognition system. Rid of these cumbersome devices, the Pixel 5 is able to offer a screen that occupies a large part of the front face (87% of the surface). The display is simply pierced to allow the front photo module to pass through.
On the back of the device, Google has opted for a mix of aluminum and plastic. Some may find that it takes away a bit of elegance. Nevertheless, the Pixel 5 is pleasant to hold, is not afraid of fingerprints and is much less likely to fall out than a smartphone with a glass back. The biometrics are performed by a fingerprint reader positioned on the back. Given the presence of an Oled panel and the price of Pixel 5, we would have preferred to see this sensor placed under the screen. As it stands, the reader is unusable in some cases, for example when the phone is placed on a table.
The buttons are concentrated on the right edge of the mobile and ideally fall under the thumb of the right hand. The Pixel 5 has a USB-C port, but does not offer a 3.5 mm mini-jack. On the other hand, it is entitled to two stereo speakers of good quality.
The Google Pixel family has been exemplary in terms of display for quite some time. By opting for an Oled panel, the number 5 ensures an excellent contrast ratio. With a diagonal of 6 inches and a Full HD+ definition, it enjoys a comfortable resolution of 432 dpi. It remains perfectly readable in all circumstances thanks to the combination of a wide range of brightness (from 1.9 to 710 cd/m²) and a light reflection rate of 44.7%.
To benefit from the best colorimetric rendering, it is necessary to choose the “natural” profile in the display parameters. Once this mode is selected, the Pixel 5 offers a very faithful rendering, with a delta E measured at 1.4 and a color temperature which is positioned at 6840 K. The latter remains slightly too “cold”, but only purists will notice it.
The reactivity of the screen of Pixel 5 is also very good. We noticed a tactile delay of 50 ms, while the persistence is imperceptible – a quality linked to the Oled technology. Finally, the screen benefits from a refresh rate of 90 Hz, which gives a greater feeling of fluidity in use.
This is one of Google’s strongest choices: Pixel 5 does not include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series SoC, the most powerful. The U.S. manufacturer preferred a Series 7 SoC, the Snapdragon 765G, to take advantage of 5G compatibility and solid performance, while maintaining energy efficiency. The smartphone can also count on no less than 8GB of RAM. On our SmartViser test, which evaluates multitasking performance, it does not demerit and scores 99, among the best on the market today. In practice, this translates into an excellent performance in all uses.
In the videogame exercise, the gap with high-end graphics chips is widening. The Adreno 620 iGPU is not ridiculous, however. Thanks to it, the Pixel 5 scored 82 on our test. It is quite far from the best students whose index now exceeds 110. This performance still gives an average of more than 45 fps on the greedy games. It remains very good.
We expected a lot from Google in terms of the photo. The performance of Pixel smartphones is always excellent, thanks in particular to the high-performance algorithms of the brand’s engineers. There are not many new features on Pixel 5. It uses the main module of its predecessor, based on a 12.2 megapixel sensor and a lens opening at f/1.7. On the other hand, it exchanges the telephoto module for an ultra-wide-angle module. A more judicious choice. Indeed, the telephoto lens can be effectively replaced by a digital zoom, while the ultra-wide-angle cannot be simulated.
We take the same ones and start again. The main module of Pixel 5 is identical to that of Pixel 4 and Pixel 4a. Its 12-megapixel sensor is surmounted by a 26 mm equivalent optic opening at f/1.7. Unsurprisingly, Pixel 5 therefore retains an excellent level. In broad daylight, the level of detail is very satisfactory considering the definition of the sensor. Only very high-end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and its 108 megapixel sensor achieve better results. Note however that the rendering of the shots of our scene made by the Pixel 5 are a little too cold.
In low light, the Pixel 5 also offers a very good rendering. This is where we can admire the prowess of Google’s algorithm. It manages to effectively eliminate electronic noise without being too destructive to fine details. White balance is slightly better controlled on Pixel 5 than on the S20 Ultra. However, Samsung’s smartphone manages to keep a better level over the entire image surface and especially in the corners.
Ultra wide-angle module
For the first time, Google is adorning one of its smartphones with an ultra-wide-angle module. This module is based on a 16 megapixel sensor and an equivalent 16 mm optic opening at f/2.2. This module is rather good overall, with a satisfactory level of detail. Despite a better definition than the main sensor, the ultra-wide-angle sensor is still one notch lower. On the other hand, compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, the result is clearly to Google’s advantage.
Very short focal length modules are often poor in low light. Google and its Pixel 5 manage to do well and offer a rendering certainly degraded, but better than what can be found elsewhere, even with a very high-end model like the S20 Ultra.
Video and Front Photo Module
Video recording can be done up to 4K definition in 60 fps. A mode in which Pixel 5 does admirably, without slowing down or stalling the tracking. The electronic stabilization is very powerful, even in full definition.
At the front, the photo sensor only needs 8 megapixels. It benefits from Google’s good image processing to produce good overall shots. However, the level of detail doesn’t take off very well.
The Google Pixel 5 has a 4000 mAh battery. A certain flight compared to a Pixel 4 which had only 2800 mAh. This choice is clearly felt since the Pixel 5 held for 18 h 26 min on our SmartViser test protocol. This is enough to ensure a full day of endurance without any problems, even with intensive use.
It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully recharge the Pixel 5 battery. Google’s smartphone remains far from the current top recharging benchmarks.
Interface and OS
Google’s Pixel 5 logically embeds the latest version of Android. The American giant renews its Pixel Launcher which proves to be very pleasant to use. Of course, many Google applications are installed by default. Access to the Wizard is facilitated by several shortcuts.