Google has just announced the Pixel 5 and while I am in no doubt many will bemoan the lack of ‘top-end’ specs, for me this is the perfect phone to launch during such a turbulent year.
The biggest news to come out of Google’s Pixel 5 launch was that it is no longer trying to compete at the high-end of the market with the likes of Samsung and its £1000+ Note 20 Ultra or Apple and its likely-to-be-equally-expensive iPhone 12 Pro.
Instead, Pixel 5 is far more modest. And at £599, it’s a far smarter buy for current times.
Even if the price is lower than many were expecting, there doesn’t seem to be much really missing. And in fact, by offering a smaller screen than just about all the Android completion, Google has instantly made the Pixel 5 stand out to those people (and I know A LOT of them) who simply don’t want a big, heavy phone.
Google has rightly ditched its Soli radar chip that felt completely underutilized on the Pixel 4, but it’s kept the essence of what separates this from, say, a Xiaomi or countless other similarly-priced Android phones – simplicity.
The 90Hz screen remains, as does an IP68 rating and wireless charging (and reverse wireless charging, too). It’s got an OLED display which I expect to be great and, judging by Google’s marketing, far more of a focus on battery life. Often phones in this mid-range ditch these genuinely useful features for snazzier chips and too much RAM – but Google hasn’t.
The use of a mid-range chipset really shouldn’t be of concern to, well, barely anybody. The Snapdragon 765G has proven itself very capable both in terms of general performance and gaming skills in a load of phones we’ve reviewed this year. Google has also added in 8GB RAM which feels like the ideal amount and 128GB of storage – double that of the outgoing Pixel 4 and what we expect to sit in the upcoming iPhone 12. All the right decisions have been made.
Related: Pixel 4a 5G vs Pixel 5
And then we come on to the camera. Google didn’t dwell too much on the skills of the dual-camera array, aside from highlighting its low-light performance, but I think it’s the right move switching out a tele zoom lens for a wider one. Many other phones at this price – even excellent phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi and Motorola – just can’t compete when it comes to camera quality and if Google can outmuscle the big boys with a cheaper device then the package becomes even more enticing. Google hasn’t even tried to oversell itself by trying to cram useless tertiary cameras in, like a 5MP macro – a lot of other brands could learn a lot from this.
2020 has, so far, been a year of minimal changes in the smartphone and tablet space. We’ve seen very minor upgrades across the board and nothing overtly standout. With its new and very different approach, Google might finally found a phone that really resonates with a more savvy public and that’s a good thing for everyone.