[Test] Google Pixel 5, the essentials of the Android experience

After half-hearted Pixel 4s with under-exploited technologies and too high a price, Google is coming back with some correction and essential. Here's our take on the new Google Pixel 5.

Let's be honest, the Pixel 4 of Google had not especially marked the spirits with more than questionable choices in certain areas. Suddenly, we were waiting for the Pixel 5 and as rumors had confirmed, Google has chosen not to position itself in the premium smartphone segment but rather the mid and high-end segments.

As was already the case with previous Pixels, the Pixel 5 represents Google's vision for the smartphone market. And the first surprise is that there will be no XL version, as was already the case with the Pixel 4 announced in September. We have been testing the new Google Pixel 5 for a week and here is our opinion.

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Features of Google Pixel 5

As a reminder on the characteristics, the Google pixel 5 offers :

Google pixel 5
Screen – 6 "OLED screen
– Full HD + definition (1080×2400)
– Density of 432ppp
– Gorilla Glass 6
– HDR certification
– Smooth Display 90Hz
– 19: 5: 9 format
– Always On Display
SoC and GPU – Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
– Adreno 620
– Titan M Security Module
Memory – 8GB of RAM
– 128GB storage
– No memory expansion
Colors – Simply Black
– Almost Green
– Recycled aluminum back
– IP68
Camera – Double camera on the back:
– Main camera: 12.2 Megapixels, 77 °, F1.7, OIS and EIS
– PDAF Dual Pixel autofocus
– Ultra wide-angle camera: 16 Megapixels, 107 °, F2.2
– PDAF autofocus

– Live HDR +
– Top Shot
– Night vision
– Record videos in Full HD 1080p up to 120fps
– Record Ultra HD 2160p videos at 60fps
– Slow motion mode in 720p at 240fps
– Cinema Pan mode

– Wide angle front camera
– 8 Megapixels
– 83 °, F2.0
– Electronic stabilization (EIS)
– Frontal video recording in 1080p or 720p at 30fps

Audio – Stereo speakers
– Dolby Atmos
Drums – 4080 mAh battery
– Fast charge 18W
– Wireless charging
– Wireless reverse charging
Connectivity – Bluetooth 5.0
– WiFi 5
– 4G and 5G
– 1x nano-SIM + 1x eSIM
– A-GPS + GLONASS, DNLA, Miracast (WiFi Direct), Google Cast
– NFC
– USB Type-C
– Barometer, Gyroscope, Accelerometer
– Proximity and light sensor
Software – Android 11
Height and weight – 144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0 mm
– 151g
Starting price – € 629
Availability date – Availability October 15, 2020

It is in a classic white box that we welcome the Google Pixel 5. While the Sage version was initially planned, only the black version is currently available but we are told at Google France that the sage version will come later when stocks are at a decent level. Otherwise, for the packaging, it's classic and unsurprisingly, there is a Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 compatible USB-C charger, a USB-C to USB-C cable, instructions for getting started and specifically for the French version, USB-C headphones / hands-free kits. Note that there is no longer a USB-A to USB-C adapter.

For its price, there is only one version and it will take 629 euros.

Design

Officially presented two weeks ago at an online event, we’re sure you already know all about design. While it was presented in two colors, only the black version is currently available on the Google store. With a little luck, we tested the Almost Sauge version which will arrive in France later. The general design is quite sober and does not change from previous years. But the first thing you notice is the finally arrival of a nearly full screen with a simple punch for the front camera. On top of that, Google has been successful, and it is not clear why it is so difficult for others, to offer the same size bezels on the sides as well as on the top and bottom. Well, it's not much, but we really appreciate that symmetry.

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With such a screen, we will have noticed, exit 3D facial recognition as on the iPhone or the Pixel 4. If we tend to say that it is a step backwards, with these times of pandemic and therefore ports of masks, we appreciate the classic fingerprint reader. In fact, on this subject, Google has chosen not to use a sensor under the screen but a physical sensor on the back. In our opinion, this did not bother us particularly, it is fast and still so reliable. And since Google provides IP68 certification, we don't have much to complain about this part. And very personally, we appreciate the full screen more with all the sensors present on the Pixel 4. If we can regret the 3D facial recognition, clearly, we will not regret the Motion Sense technology, under exploited by Google.

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While all manufacturers offer, in this price range, a glass back with a matte finish, Google offers an aluminum back, but not just any aluminum since we are talking about recycled aluminum, which is a true more in these eco-responsible times. And suddenly, one of Google's prowess, again, is to offer wireless charging despite the aluminum back. We appreciate.

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In the end, the finish is still very good and we appreciate the texture of the back which is not slippery as is often the case with smartphones with an aluminum back. We don't have that metallic feel and we are quite close to a very pleasant "soft touch" rendering that does not in any way welcome fingerprints. Note that this is a unibody case and it is believed that the whole is much more solid compared to smartphones with a glass back and a metal frame. In addition, with a more than reasonable size, the grip is excellent and one-handed operation is more than easy. And finally, we find the volume buttons and the power button and / or standby on the right edge, which frees the left edge. On the other hand, we would have preferred to have the standby button at the bottom and not at the top of the volumes, like other smartphones on the market.

Display and Audio

Apart from the full screen (with a punch though) compared to its predecessors, no surprises on the Pixel 5 since there is an excellent flexible OLED screen very well balanced. This is, once again, perfectly calibrated with very good colorimetry. You only have to compare it to other recent smartphones to realize how good it is. There are three color modes, natural, contrast and adoptive. By default, it is on the natural mode and this is the one I use to have more natural and realistic colors. Once again, we can blame a lower brightness compared to some competitors but for our part, we found it very satisfactory and we had no problems or other on a daily basis.

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This was already the case on the Pixel 4 and we are happy to find a refresh rate of 90Hz that we very much appreciate because of the comfort it provides on a daily basis. This is not going to change everyday life in absolute terms. On the other hand, we did not find Ambient EQ technology, similar to True Tone at Apple which allows the temperature of the screen to be adapted to match the environment. Yes, it was more subtle on the Pixel 4 compared to Apple's True Tone technology, but it was nice. Pity.

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And finally, there are stereo speakers that are good overall. These are not the references on the market but it will be easy to enjoy internet content without going through the headset or earphones box. Afterwards, for longer content, we will necessarily favor an audio headset or at least, the original headphones.

Android 11, Performance and Autonomy

Unsurprisingly, the new Google Pixel 5 runs under Android 11 which has been available since early September for a number of manufacturers and the latest Google Pixels. We talk about it HERE with all the new features of this major Android update so we won't go over it again. The only thing to remember is that on the Google Pixel 5 (and any compatible Pixel), it's a version without a manufacturer overlay. Note the new version of the digital recorder which can "chapter" and with which you can now edit, both in text and in audio.

Note that we no longer find the Active Edge technology that we knew from previous Pixels. As a reminder, this was a function that allowed you to launch an action by "squeezing" your smartphone. Not using it specially, we will not regret it. Note that the Pixel supports 5G but we still do not have 5G in France. As a result, we have not yet been able to test this part and while waiting for the offers from Bouygues, SFR, Orange or Free to be available, we will have to wait. The advantage of the 5G version, however, is that the Pixel 5 obviously provides 4G compatibility.

On the performance side, the Google Pixel 5 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC on board. It's not Qualcomm's top-of-the-line SoC but let's be honest, it will suffice for 99% of our day-to-day use. Indeed, if the few benchmark results are there to give a ranking, the reality is quite different and we never really felt a limit on a daily basis compared to the Snapdragon 865 for example. The 90Hz refresh rate is perfectly exploited and everything remains fluid in use. No particular problem in use, we used the Pixel 5 with a significant number of applications and we did not feel any discomfort or slowdown (except in games of course and this, depending on the level of graphics). The smartphone does not heat up (except for applications such as very greedy games) regardless of the applications launched. The user experience remains fluid and in everyday use, there is clearly no complaints. Now, you can still feel the difference in power between a Pixel 5 and a Pixel 4. Just look at the photo processing time which is less instantaneous than on last year's model. Nothing blocking but it could be better. We realize how much power Google's algorithms demand.

The Google Pixel 5 offers a 4000 mAh battery, which is great for this type of smartphone with such a screen and a 90Hz refresh rate. We left everything by default. In our practice, we shot with an average of 5 to 6 hours of screen per day to end the day around 30%, which is good. As a reminder, the Google Pixel 5 also offers wireless charging, always practical and reverse charging for your headphones for example. Finally, note an extreme energy-saving mode if you need essential functions and cannot recharge immediately.

Photo and Video

No matter how much we criticized Google's choices on the presence or not of such or such technology, there is one point that we cannot take away from them, which is that the Pixels remain the benchmark in photos, even when benchmarks do not apply. don't prove them right. This year, exit the Pixel 4 telephoto for an ultra wide angle. It was a little the remark we had made to them last year, namely that we found the ultra wide-angle more useful than a telephoto, especially since Google still offers their Super Res Zoom technology which allows to simulate easily a 2x optical zoom. In practice, if it does not compete with a true x2 optical zoom, the results are still very convincing. Basically, the Pixel 5 takes multiple images and using algorithms, reconstructs a much more detailed photo. Afterwards, needless to say that we can forget the SpaceZoom 100x of a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra for example, but it does the job.

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For more traditional photos with the main camera, we'd expect the Google Pixel 5 to do really well. Colors are always a bit cooler than those produced by an iPhone 11 Pro and less saturated than those of a Galaxy S20. It's a matter of taste and it will delight those looking for the best loyalty possible. As in years before, where the Pixel 5 continues in the Pixel legacy is in its ability to recognize the right scenes and always be 100% reliable. With the Pixel 5, it's very difficult to fault Google's smartphone. The exposure and the white balance are controlled and the colors are faithful. Thanks to the algorithms that allow the Pixel 5 to be one of those smartphones that we can take out in all circumstances and be sure to have the photo we had in mind. On the other hand, big disappointment on the side of the ultra wide-angle insofar as if the colors are well respected as the exposure or the white balance, there is a flagrant lack of details and sharpness in the photos. in ultra wide-angle without forgetting the chromatic aberration as soon as one moves away from the center of the photo. For comparison, Super Res Zoom photos offer more sharpness than ultra wide-angle photos. Besides, in the absence of insane ultra-wide-angle photo quality, we will notice that Google catches up very well with the ultra-wide-angle to avoid the distortions associated with this type of lens.

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The night vision is still there of course and it's still impressive. Note that on the Pixel 5, the camera is able, depending on the light, to automatically launch night vision mode. Compared to previous Pixels, we had the impression that the algorithms had evolved somewhat to provide photos closer to reality. The white balance in this mode is still too cold for night shots but the details and sharpness are there. To this is obviously added the ultra wide angle which still lacks consistency compared to the main camera. And of course, there is Astronomical Photography which allows very long exposures when the Pixel 5 is detected on a tripod. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to test this function on the Pixel 5, thank you Paris … But I had been able to test this summer with the Pixel 4a and it was amazing. There is no reason not to have at least the same results.

Portrait mode continues to be as effective as ever, even without the Pixel 4's telephoto. The algorithms work wonders. As a result, Google has added, as some competitors already proposed, Portrait Light technology, which allows you to add light to portraits and therefore have better control. The technology is applied automatically and the user can then adjust everything in post-production. On the side, finally, of the functions, we obviously find the Tracking AF, always so practical to follow a subject, the Top Shot function which detects the movements and allows itself to take a burst in order to allow the user the best photo afterwards. stroke. Now you add Live HDR. Basically, you see what the final photo is going to be, it's so convenient and most importantly, it allows you to best adjust the exposure and get exactly the shot you want. Convenient.

Here are some sample photos to give you a better idea:

Regarding video, the pixels get better over time. While the Pixel 4 had been criticized for some limitations at the start, Google quickly caught up to what the competition has to offer. With a resolution of up to 4K at 60fps, you can use the ultra wide angle as well as the main wide angle or the Super Res Zoom in x2. Convenient. Added to this is a rather practical mode, the Panoramic Shot, which allows you to reduce the speed by 2x, mute the sound and therefore ensure more cinematic videos.

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