The Google Pixel 5: A Mini-Review - Small Package, Small Value?by Andrei Frumusanu on January 22, 2021 9:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Pixel 5
The performance of Pixel phones has historically always been quite excellent due to Google’s focus on providing an optimised software stack on top of the provided hardware. For the Pixel 5, this is also the case, and is actually more important than ever given the phone’s not-quite-flagship SoC specifications. We’ve seen other Snapdragon 765 throughout last year – some were good, but others didn’t quite feel as responsive, so let’s see how the Pixel 5 fares.
We’re starting off with PCMark’s web browsing test. In general, this test is more about a phone capability to maintain smooth animations without frame-drops, as most devices nowadays are frame-rate limited and bunch together in the charts depending on their refresh rates, with a few exceptions of some devices which have aggressive DVFS and scheduler settings.
The Pixel 5 here does well and ends up in the middle of the pack. It’s actually a good showing and doesn’t reveal that the phone has weaker hardware as some other Snapdragon 865 phones perform quite similarly.
The writing sub-test here does however showcase that the Pixel 5 uses inferior hardware. The test is amongst the most important in the PCMark suite as it has more heavy workloads which are more representative of general device performance and responsiveness. The Pixel 5 performs similar to the LG Velvet, which doesn’t come as a surprise as both have the same SoC. This is notable below the pack of flagship SoC devices out there.
The photo editing test is accelerated via Renderscript libraries, and the weaker GPU of the Snapdragon 765 also comes into play as it doesn’t have the computational throughput of its bigger siblings.
The data manipulation test is heavily animation bound and has a large single-thread component. We’ve seen this test to be quite sensitive to the way the CPUs are scheduling things around and some devices perform better in the test depending on their software tuning of the scheduler and DVFS algorithms. The Pixel 5 actually fares very well here, which is no surprise given Google’s attention to detail of such things.
In the overall performance score of PCMark, the Pixel 5 fares adequately, and actually quite ahead of the LG Velvet, thanks to its better software tuning, but does fall behind flagship competition, including last year’s Pixel 4.
Overall Performance & Experience
Overall, in subjective device experience, the Pixel 5 still remains a very snappy and responsive phone. There’s a bit of a contradiction here as how to describe the phone – on one hand, Google’s excellent software tuning means that there’s very little lag for the phone, however the device’s lack of more computational power does however show up if you’re doing any heavier workloads, and here, it does become noticeable that it’s not as powerful as other devices which employ flagship SoCs.
The most interesting comparison here is against the Pixel 4 with the Snapdragon 855 – the predecessor device many times actually does outperform and feels more performant than the newer Pixel 5, a reminder that there is quite a difference in this year’s new product category that Google is aiming the phone at.
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Citypoint725 - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkBest Pixel phone yet...in my experience. Been a Google phone owner since the G1.
drmrzmom - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkDon't waste your money! I feel like I paid $699 for extra storage, a smaller phone and no measureable upgrades. It sucks.
Pixel owner - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkThe selling point for me on the Pixel 5 was the battery life. I owned a Pixel XL, Pixel 3 XL, and now the 5. My only issue is the size. It's kinda small. My vision is getting bad so reading the small print on certain games is difficult. If the games had a way to change the font size it wouldn't be a problem. I like the fact that it's super lightweight. I haven't noticed the performance being slower then the 3 XL. It actually seems faster. I love the calling feature screen call. No other flagship phones have it. That being said overall I'm happy to own a pixel 5 and would recommend getting one. As long as your not one of those I need the best of everything types. If you are then go spend $1300 on a flagship. I bet you won't be as happy.
patel21 - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkThe phone would provide a lot more value of they would have just kept telephoto lens from Pixel 4, and added Ultra wide.
Spunjji - Monday, January 25, 2021 - linkYeah, I'm confused by the people who were happy with them removing a lens. My personal preference is for telephoto, though, so I'm biased 😬
DocDAT2 - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkTo me the pixel 5 is close to the perfect phone. It's at the maximum size that I want (can't find any comparable phones in the same size. I could easily afford a phone twice the cost but would never buy one of the modern brick sized "super" phones and I can't stand iOS.
It has great quality construction, awesome camera and camera software (the best of the android phones IMO), and the battery easily lasts a whole day of heavy usage. It's plenty fast for all I've used it for - I've never understood people who use their phone for 3D gaming, so I couldn't care less about the 3d performance.
Broonsby - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkPixel 5 is like a Camry: nothing special to look at, but is a solid daily user. It just works and gets out of the way while being fuel efficient. I manage an average of 2 days usage before charging w/ roughly 40% battery capacity left. If you don't like the package then there are you spoiled for choice right now. But this is the kind of phone you'll have in 3 years & finally upgrade because of the battery finally fading.
shady28 - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - linkA Camry that costs the same as a BMW. This is a midrange spec phone with, as far as I can tell, an $680 MSRP price tag and going for $800. For that you can buy an S21 5G, or an iPhone 11 128GB is $30 less, or an iPhone 12 is $70 more. You can get an LG 5G with similar specs for half this price? This phone makes no sense, just like a $60,000 Camry.
1_rick - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkFor six hundos you can get a Galaxy S20 FE 5G. I don't remember if it has mmWave or not but isn't that the one that's really only available for a few blocks in the downtown of major cities? But you get super-fast charging, an actual flagship SoC, and a 120Hz display.
supdawgwtfd - Friday, January 22, 2021 - linkWhat's interesting is that in my Country even though they are meant to have the same MSRP the Samsung costs $100 more.
Plus who really likes Samsung software....