Pixel 5 Follow-Up
I’ve had a number of people ping me to ask me if I had any further thoughts on the Pixel 5 since I did my first impressions review a couple weeks back; apparently a lot of folks are in the market for a phone right about now. The answer is, yes, I do, and they are mostly: I really like this phone.
Some bullet points to expand on this:
* To begin, the battery life is, for me at least, phenomenal. For the first time that I’ve owned a cell phone, I’m not experiencing battery anxiety; I can use the phone like I usually do all day and still have a significant amount of battery left at the end of the day, when I set it back on the charger. I honestly don’t know what to do with myself; I keep checking my battery levels in the middle of the day, expecting them to be something like 30%, and then the Pixel 5 tells me it’s at, like, 85% and looks at me judgingly. Eventually over the lifespan of the phone the battery life will decrease, as this is the way of all things, but even when it does, it’s likely to get to the sort of battery level I had on the Pixel 4 when it was new. That’s acceptable to me. I can enthusiastically recommend the Pixel 5 simply on the battery experience alone.
* But the rest of the Pixel 5 experience is quite pleasant too! As noted before, the pictures out of the phone are as good as they ever are out of the Pixel line, the Pixel-specific phone features continue to be lovely, and if there’s any slowdown in the daily function of the phone because it’s using the 765 Snapdragon chip (save for a slight lag in photo-processing when you ask it to do portrait mode), I haven’t noticed it. The phone continues to be a delight to hold; the “bio-resin” coating on the aluminum back is not slippery and doesn’t attract fingerprints, and I can use it with a single hand.
If I have any complaint at all, it is that the fingerprint scanner on the back is slightly too sensitive and it accidentally drops down my notification drawer from time to time. But I think that’s at least partly due to me being out of the habit of positioning my finger on the back, thanks to the Pixel 4 using face unlock. I suspect the muscle memory will return.
But by and large, the Pixel 5, as a piece of technology, is transparent to me, which is to say that I don’t have to think about it as hardware, in order to access the things I use it for. It’s really well-designed as an everyday tool.
(Oh, and, I finally saw 5G on my phone the other day! It’s fine, it runs a little faster than 4G here in the boonies, but not enough so that I’m going to spend any amount of time thinking about it.)
* I was forwarded an Ars Technica review of the Pixel 5 today, which effectively said “why pay for the Pixel 5 when the Pixel 4a is almost as good for half as much?” For me, the answer is: Better camera, better screen, better build quality and better battery (also better processor and RAM, but I’m sure the 4a’s processor and RAM are fine). The way the review sort of elides all of that is a bit, well, sloppy. But honestly, if the 4a fits your lifestyle better, I’m sure Google, who makes both, would be happy to take your money either way!
It’s about use cases. In my use case, the Pixel 4a wouldn’t be enough, while the Pixel 5 is perfect. If you really like the feature set of the Pixel 5 but are kinda on the fence on the cost, you might check out the Pixel 4a 5G phone (No, Google is not helping with these too similar phone labels). The 4a 5G has the same camera and processor as the 5, but the build quality is slightly less robust, and it doesn’t have as much RAM. But it’s $200 cheaper! So, again, it’s about what you want out of a phone.
As it happens, I think the price of the Pixel 5 is perfectly reasonable for what you get, and also (and again, as noted in my previous writeup), the price is going to go down real soon anyway as the holiday sales get fired up. So if you want the phone but are price sensitive, wait a couple more weeks and you’ll see some price drops.
* So, yes. To repeat: I really like the Pixel 5; it sort of perfectly fits how I use a phone here in 2020, and I suspect that it will be a solid fit for a lot of other people. To borrow a phrase from one Google’s competitors in the phone arena, “it just works.” I like it just working.