After dropping official teaser images for the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G earlier this winter, today at its Launch Night In event Google has finally given us a full rundown on its newest Pixel phones.
For the Pixel 5, Google is trying something a bit different. Instead of competing directly with super expensive high-end phones from Apple, Samsung, and others, Google is making more of a “budget flagship,” with prices for the Pixel 5 starting at $999.
So instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, as you’d find in a premium Android phone, the Pixel 5 features a Snapdragon 765G chip, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4,000 mAh battery. You’ll also get a 6-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and dual rear cameras, including a 12-MP main cam and a 16-MP ultra-wide-angle lens. Sadly, this means the 2x telephoto lens found on last year’s Pixel 4 is gone, though you will still have access to Google’s Super Res Zoom feature when you want to zoom in.
Google lowering its ambitions for the Pixel 5 might seem strange at first, but it actually makes sense. When it came to flagship phones, Google’s Pixels were already being crowded out by Apple and Samsung. Furthermore, unlike cutting-edge iPhones or Galaxy phones, the best aspects of the Pixel line have never been related to hardware. So by making a handset featuring solid but not super high-end specs, Google can deliver a more affordable phone that’s still reasonably fast while still concentrating on what Google does best: software and the overall Pixel experience.
That said, it’s also important to note that Google has ditched the Motion Sense system used on the Pixel 4 in favour of a simple fingerprint sensor, and while you should still be able to unlock the phone with your face, it won’t be quite as secure as what you’d find on an iPhone.
One new feature on the Pixel 5 is that in addition to standard Qi wireless charging, you also get reverse wireless charging that you can use to do things like recharge your Pixel Buds or other wireless earbuds on the go.
For its camera, Google has improved its class-leading image quality with a new focus bracketing feature that works with HDR to produce brighter more colourful photos, while also adding the ability to use the Pixel’s powerful low light Night Sight feature in Portrait mode. Furthermore, Portrait mode has been improved with a new Portrait Light tool to help prevent things like a backlit scene from blowing out your pics. And with the new Google Photos editor, many of the Pixel 5’s camera features can be applied to pics you’ve already shot.
As for video, Google is also introducing three stabilizing modes to help you capture steady, shake-free footage, along with a new Cinematic Pan mode to help you capture more engaging shots. Finally, to help make sure the Pixel 5 won’t die on you, its getting a new Extreme Battery Saver mode that allows you to chose which features you need and which ones can be shut down to save on juice.
Aside from the Pixel 5, there’s also another new Pixel: The Pixel 4a 5G is basically a larger, slightly more powerful version of the standard Pixel 4a with an additional ultra-wide camera in back and support for 5G connectivity. Starting at $799, the Pixel 4a 5G costs $200 more than its small sibling and sports a 6.2-inch OLED display (up from 5.8 inches on the Pixel 4a). Inside there’s a Snapdragon 765G chip instead of the Snapdragon 730G chip. (And yes, you do get a headphone jack.)
As smartphones continue to get more sophisticated and more expensive, there’s a question that becomes increasingly relevant: How much phone do you actually need? Features like a built-in stylus, a foldable screen, and wireless charging are certainly nice to have, especially when they’re built into the same device you use...Read more
While I haven’t had to test either phone out in person yet, this year Google seems really focused on making solid, straightforward phones, and considering the increasing number weird and wacky handsets on the market, keeping things simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Pixel 5 will available starting at $999 on October 15 in some regions while the Pixel 4a 5G will be available for $799 sometime later in November.