Google has unveiled its latest Pixel phone with several new and modified features over last year’s Pixel 4. Announced at a launch event on Sept. 30, the Pixel 5 is one of the first two Pixel phones to come with 5G (the other being the Pixel 4a 5G). Beyond sporting the latest cellular standard, the Pixel 5 features a 6-inch OLED 90Hz display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a price tag of $699.
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What are the Google Pixel 5’s key features?
The 5G technology built into the Pixel 5 supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. The sub-6GHz spectrum is more pervasive, can travel farther, and is more resistant to interference. But it’s also more crowded, limiting the actual speeds and bandwidth. In contrast, mmWave is much faster but is more susceptible to interference and blocking and so works best only at close ranges to cell towers. In the US, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless offer both types of networks, but mmWave is considered the up-and-comer, especially by Verizon.
The Pixel 5’s 6-inch always-on OLED display provides a resolution of 1,080×2,340 pixels with a color depth of 24 bits (16 million colors) and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. The 90Hz refresh rate is mid-range these days as most smartphones are stuck at 60Hz, while higher-end models are bumping up the rate to 120Hz. Still, a 90Hz refresh rate should deliver fast screen redraws. The display also supports HDR to achieve higher contrasts between dark and light areas.
The Pixel 5 includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor powers the phone. Though hardly the fastest system-on-a-chip offered by Qualcomm, the 765G is considered a speedy and efficient midrange SOC that promises support for all-day battery life. The processor also teams up a 5G modem with Qualcomm’s artificial intelligence engine and an Adreno 620 graphics processing unit for fast rendering of graphics.
The phone sports two wide-angle rear cameras. Equipped with a resolution of 12.2-megapixels, the main rear camera offers a 77-degree field of view, while the second rear camera uses 16 megapixels with an ultra-wide-angle lens that provides a 107-degree field of view. The 8-megapixel front camera uses a punch-hole cutout tucked away in the left corner.
Google has also touted the advanced photo and video capabilities of the Pixel 5 courtesy of both hardware and software. Portrait mode now includes a Night Sight feature designed to better capture people and objects in the foreground under nighttime and low-light conditions. Another feature called Portrait Light helps illuminate subjects that are severely backlit and would otherwise be washed out.
To smooth your video shooting, the Pixel 5 has three stabilization modes: Locked, Active, and Cinematic Pan. For the Cinematic Pan feature, Google said it studied the techniques of top Hollywood directors and watched video tutorials on YouTube. As a result, this mode can help you create Hollywood-style effects by slowing down the motion in the scene.
The Pixel 5 supports 18W USB-C fast charging wireless charging as well as reverse charging, which means the phone can wirelessly share power with other devices like earbuds. The battery itself is rated at 4,080mAh. A new feature called Extreme Battery Saver can increase battery life by allowing you to decide which apps you want to keep running while other apps get paused.
The phone’s back is made of recycled aluminum, while the front screen uses Gorilla Glass 6 for improved resistance to drops.
For people who don’t like waiting on hold during a phone call, the Pixel 5 has a cool new feature called Hold for Me. Instead of you having to listen to elevator music or silence while you wait for someone to come on the line, Google Assistant will monitor the call for you and alert you when it detects that someone is ready to speak with you.
Google has even kicked in some freebies. With the purchase of a Pixel 5, you can get three months of a Stadia Pro game platform subscription, three months of YouTube Premium, 100GB of storage on Google One, and a Google Play Pass and Google Play points.
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How does the Pixel 5 compare with the Pixel 4?
Google offered two versions of last year’s Pixel—the Pixel 4 and its bigger brother the Pixel 4 XL. The Pixel 5 compares with the two Pixel 4 models in several ways.
The Pixel 4 comes with a 5.7-inch FHD+ display with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,280 pixels, while the Pixel 4XL uses a 6.3-inch QHD+ display with 1,440 x 2,960 pixels. The Pixel 5’s 6-inch OLED display offers a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 px. But the 6-inch screen size may be the sweet spot, large enough for most people who like a big phone but not too large as to be uncomfortable to hold in your hand.
The Pixel 4’s battery is rated at 2,800mAh, while the one in the XL is rated at 3,700mAh. The Pixel 5 offers a decided improvement in battery capacity with a rating of 4,080 mAh. All three phones offer 18W fast charging and wireless charging.
With the Pixel 5, Google has switched to two rear wide-angle cameras vs. the wide-angle and telephoto cameras on the back of Pixel 4. The wide-angle one on the Pixel 4 has a resolution of 2.2-megapixels, while the telephoto offers 16 megapixels. That contrasts with the 12.2-megapixel and 16-megapixel wide-angle lenses on the back of the Pixel 5. Like the Pixel 4, the Pixel 5 uses a hole-punch front camera positioned on the left side of the screen.
The Pixel 4 comes with 6GB of memory and storage of either 64GB or 128GB. The Pixel 5 ups the memory to 8GB but offers 128GB as the only storage option.
The Pixel 4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, while the Pixel 5 houses a Snapdragon 765G chip. Based on testing, the 885 chip is faster than the 765G. But the 765G is more power efficient, so you’re likely to get more out of a single battery charge. Add in the extra battery capacity in the Pixel 5, and the new phone promises to last longer without need of a recharge.
The Pixel 4 uses Face Unlock for authentication, which takes up some space at the top of the front screen, reducing overall screen size. The Pixel 5 eschews facial recognition in favor of a fingerprint sensor on the back. Under some circumstances, using Face Unlock may be preferable to having to reach your finger to the back to authenticate yourself. But with many of us (hopefully) wearing masks when we’re out in public due to the coronavirus, facial recognition isn’t as feasible or easy as it once was. So the return to a fingerprint sensor is a more usable option these days.
The Pixel 4 uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the front display, while the Pixel 5 uses Gorilla Glass 6. Based on its own testing, Corning has said that Gorilla Glass 6 is more durable than its predecessor, having survived drops from a height of up to 1.6 meters (5 feet, 2 inches) onto hard, rough surfaces.
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What are the Pixel 5’s main competitors?
By pricing the Pixel 5 at $699, Google is aiming for the mid-range market, an arena that’s starting to get crowded as many consumers around the world shy away from paying $1,000 and up for a high-end phone. As such, the Pixel 5 competes with other mid-range phones such as the new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, the Samsung Galaxy S10e, the OnePlus Nord, and even the 64GB iPhone 11, and well as lower-cost phones from Chinese vendors Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.
Of course, Google also is competing with itself by offering the Pixel 5, the current Pixel 4A, and the new Pixel 4A 5G all at the same time. Plus, the competition is likely to heat up next month as Apple is expected to unveil its 2020 iPhone lineup, including a reported iPhone mini and a 64GB iPhone 12.
Even consumers in the market for a budget-friendly 5G smartphone will certainly want to look at the Pixel 4A 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, or the OnePlus Nord. Unless you’re a strict Android user, it may also pay to wait a few more weeks to see what Apple cooks up with its new iPhones.
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Google Pixel 5 specs
Display: 6-inch always-on OLED, FHD+ (1,080×2,340 px), 432 ppi, 24-bit depth for 16 million colors, HDR support, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 90Hz refresh rate.
Case: Corning Gorilla Glass 6 cover glass; 100% recycled aluminum enclosure.
Memory: 8GB LPDDR4x.
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 2.4 GHz Octa-Core with Adreno 620 GPU and Titan M Security Module.
- Rear Main: 12.2MP dual-pixel 1.4 μm pixel width, autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, optical + electronic image stabilization, ƒ/1.7 aperture.
- Rear Ultrawide: 16MP ultrawide, 1.0 μm pixel width, ƒ/2.2 aperture.
- Front: 8MP, 1.12 μm pixel width, ƒ/2.0 aperture, fixed focus.
- Rear Camera: 1080p at 30FPS, 60FPS, 120FPS, and 240FPS; 4K at 30FPS, 60FPS.
- Front Camera: 1080p at 30FPS.
Battery: Minimum 4,000mAh, typical 4,080mAh.
Login security: Pixel Imprint back-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Ports: USB-C, dual SIM (nano and e-SIM)
- Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO
- Bluetooth v5.0 + LE
- A2DP (HD codecs: AptX, AptX HD, LDAC)
- Google Cast
- 5G Sub-6: TDD: Up to 1CC x 100MHz 4×4 MIMO DL & 1CC x 100MHz UL. FDD: Up to 1CC x 20MHz 4×4 MIMO DL & 1CC x 20MHz UL.
- 5G mmWave: TDD: Up to 4CC x 100MHz 2×2 MIMO DL & 1CC x 100MHz 2×2 MIMO UL9.
- LTE: Up to 4CC (12 layers) DL & 2CC UL.
Sensors: Proximity/ambient light sensor, accelerometer/gyrometer, magnetometer, barometer, spectral and flicker sensor.
Charging: USB-C 18W adapter with USB-PD 2.0, 18W fast charging, Qi-compatible wireless charging, reverse wireless charging.
Buttons and ports: USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, power button, volume controls.
SIMs: Single nano SIM, eSIM.
Media and audio: Stereo speakers, three microphones, noise suppression.
Certification: IP68-certified for water and dust resistance.
Operating System: Android 11. Minimum three years of OS and security updates.
Dimensions: 5.7″ x 2.8″ x 0.3″ (144 x 70.4 x 8 mm), 5.03 oz (151g)
Colors: Just Black and Sorta Sage (green).
In the box: 18W USB-C power adapter, 1m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0), Quick Start Guide, Quick Switch Adapter, SIM tool.
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Why should businesses and professionals consider the Pixel 5?
There are a few reasons the Google Pixel 5 might be a good purchase for individuals and organizations. The introduction of 5G promises faster speed, better throughput, and lower latency on supported 5G networks. Even if you don’t normally use a 5G network, the addition makes the phone somewhat future-proof when 5G is more pervasive.
Like the Pixel 3 and 4 phones, the Pixel 5 includes Google’s Titan M security chip. Described by Google as “enterprise grade,” the Titan M provides an effective technology for securing the device. The Titan M is integrated into the bootloader to verify that the OS hasn’t been maliciously modified. It encrypts the device when it’s locked. It also uses secure APIs to ensure that only trusted apps are running on the device.
If you take a lot of photos and videos for personal or business reasons, the new camera features that come with the Pixel 5 promise to improve the quality of your shots.
The Pixel 5 comes with Google’s Personal Safety app, which can perform such tasks as automatically call 911 when a vehicle accident is detected or schedule safety checks that will notify emergency contacts when the safety check notification isn’t acknowledged. Both of those features can be lifesavers for people who are traveling or working remotely.
Because it’s made by Google, the Pixel 5 will always be one of the first phones to receive Android updates, which can mean important security patches arrive more quickly.
When and where will the Pixel 5 be available?
The Pixel 5 is available for preorders as of Sept. 30 and will appear in stores starting Oct. 15. The phone will be sold in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. In the US, the new Pixel will be offered on Verizon, Google Fi, and as an unlocked model designed to work with all major carriers.