I picked up the Sorta Sage Pixel 5 yesterday and, as many people have been doing, thought I'd jot down a few notes about it for people who may be on the fence or live in countries where it hasn't been released. For context, I had the Pixel XL and Pixel 3a before this, and upgraded due to breaking my 3a a week ago. I paid $A999 (over 24 months) with a free Google Nest Hub Max thrown in from my carrier. If people are interested I will write a 1-week review next weekend. I'll play around more with the camera and processor. Aesthetics:
Looks great, feels great. I couldn't work out if I liked the looks of it from the promo videos, especially the Sorta Sage colour. Now that I have it, I really like it. It's light and well-built, I like the capacitive fingerprint scanner on the back, and the edge-to-edge display is great. The "bio-resin" covered aluminium feels a little plasticky, though coming from the 3a that feels normal to me and I emphatically prefer it to glass. The punch-hole camera doesn't bother me at all, and I like having wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and waterproofing for the first time. I miss the headphone jack though, and have ordered a usb-C splitter so I can charge it while I listen to music without relying on Bluetooth (I have a tendency to fall asleep listening to podcasts). Battery Life:
Took it off charge at 8:45am. Used it as a GPS for an hour, took some photos, watched 90 mins of The Office, mucked around on Reddit for... far too long, watched some Youtube, read the news, and configured the look of the phone. Usually on 4G/5G, usually with a VPN, between 50-100% screen brightness, sometimes with Galaxy Buds+ bluetooth headphones. It's now 9:10pm and I'm on 6% battery with a SOT of 6 hours 6 minutes to get to this point, so I'd expect a SOT of about 6:30 or so. Adaptive battery wouldn't have kicked in yet, and I will be interested to see if the SOT improves even further when it does. The battery dropped like a rock on the first night when it was configuring itself, so I wouldn't panic if its rapidly draining on the first day. I'm happy with the battery life, though there are other phones at this price range which can boast even better SOTs. If you're coming from a Pixel 4 I'd imagine it'd be like night and day. Camera:
It's a Pixel camera. It's very similar to the cameras in my OG XL and 3a. For those who haven't used a Pixel before, the main camera takes crisp photos with accurate colour reproduction. The portrait mode is good and does a reasonable job of picking out the foreground subject. The ultrawide is interesting but slightly lower quality than the main cam and I can't see myself using it much. The selfie cam produces some good photos, but has no autofocus and has a narrower field of view than the selfie cams on previous pixels, annoyingly. Still produces some good shots, but I like to take photos of myself and my fiancee when we travel with things in the background so I dislike that the field of view is narrower. I like that the photos are not over-processed or smoothed, and have accurate colour reproduction rather than leaning too heavily on the saturation - if I want to edit them, I can do that later. I want my photos to capture the world as it is and the Pixel 5's cameras do that very well. Speed/Processor:
No issues at this stage. I have only used it for GPS/Netflix/Reddit/photography so far. The 765G / 8GB RAM keeps things flowing, though I don't play many high-end games. It's faster to open apps and navigate around than my 3a, though you'd hope it would be. Given I don't push my phones to the limit you may have to look elsewhere for more information on this, but for what I use my phones for it's great. Screen:
Crisp and sufficiently bright. I had a touch of trouble reading it outdoors on a grey but glarey day - I'm not sure of the peak brightness of the screen but it's fine for most use cases. I like the 90Hz screen - it's definitely smoother than my old 3a. I don't even notice the punch-hole camera. Speakers:
The reviews you may have read are right - the speakers are definitely a bit tinny and unbalanced, but they're plenty loud enough. I have noticed that receiving phone calls can be a little quiet - I'll investigate this further. Other people can hear my calls fine. If I was an audiophile I'd be disappointed, but if I was an audiophile I wouldn't be listening to music on my phone speakers. Alternatives:
The main competitors I considered are the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G FE, the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12, the Nokia 8.3, and the Pixel 4a 5G. Of those, the only one I nearly picked was the Galaxy. An Australian retail chain is offering the s20 5G FE for A$300 on a 12-month, $69 contract, but only if you port into their preferred carrier. I was already on that carrier so wasn't eligible for this deal. If I was... I probably would have gone for it and you'd be reading a review on samsung
. Would I get it again if I had the choice?:
Yes, I think so, assuming I wasn't able to get the S20 5G FE deal noted above (although my first choice was still the Pixel). I wanted the Pixel mostly for the cameras and the software, and everything else about it holds up well. I had had a Galaxy Note 2 in the past and didn't like it (TouchWiz was terrible). However, I can see other brands overtaking Google if they rest on their laurels, and would consider changing brands if the Pixel 6 or 7 did not take a few steps forwards with hardware.
Note that the Pixel 5 doesn't feel like a quantum leap over the 3a, and if I hadn't broken my 3a I wouldn't have felt the need to upgrade. But I'm very happy with the 5 so far. What would I like to see improved?:
Wider-angle selfie cam with autofocus. Better top speaker. I'd accept a thicker top bezel to have those things fixed, and it'd be an insta-buy if they were. I'd like a headphone jack too, but acknowledge I'm fighting a losing battle on that one.