Oh, and the Pixel 4’s motion-detecting radar chip has quietly been removed
With 2020 rapidly coming to a close, the big autumn push for hardware launches is well underway. While we sit twiddling our thumbs waiting for Apple to show off the (currently delayed) iPhone 12, Google has unveiled its newest premium flagship smartphone, the Pixel 5, alongside a brand-new Chromecast, a long-awaited update to the original Google Home smart speaker and a 5G variant of the Pixel 4a.
What’s new with the Pixel 5, then? If you were hoping for a long list of hardware upgrades, then you might want to reset your expectations before you continue reading. As it turns out, very little has changed this year, and some of these changes aren’t for the better, either.
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To start with, the Pixel 5’s OLED screen is much the same as last year. The native resolution is still FHD+, with a refresh rate of 90Hz, although it has slightly increased in size, though not by much. The Pixel 5’s display measures 6in across the diagonal (up from 5.7in) with skinnier screen-bordering bezels as well as a new hole-punch selfie camera.
Speaking of which, photography buffs might also be disappointed to learn that the primary camera remains unchanged yet again. Google is using the same 12.2MP (f/1.7) camera sensor that’s served its Pixel phones for the last few years, although this time around the telephoto lens from the Pixel 4 has been replaced with a 16MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide unit.
As always, though, the Pixel’s camera changes mostly come from the software side of things. Google’s excellent Night Sight shooting mode is now available in Portrait; stabilisation has been improved with three different stabilisation modes in video; and the new Portrait Light feature allows you to artificially drop lighting into your image if the lighting conditions aren’t flattering enough.
As for the Pixel 5’s internal specifications, Google has decided to use the Snapdragon 765G chipset for processing duties, rather than the more powerful Snapdragon 865 found inside most modern flagship phones. This 7nm chipset is clocked at 2.4GHz and is slower than the Snapdragon 855 CPU that powered last year’s Pixel 4.
A chief benefit of the Snapdragon 765G, though, is that it has an integrated X52 5G modem, which means the Pixel 5 (unlike the Pixel 4) will be able to connect to the UK’s sub-6GHz 5G network. The Pixel 5 also comes with double the base storage at 128GB, has an extra 2GB of RAM (8GB) and uses a larger 4,080mAh battery, with wireless charging support.
How much will all of this set you back? Well, the good news is that the Pixel 5 is slightly cheaper than last year’s model, and you’ll be able to buy one for £599 when it appears on virtual shelves on 15 October.
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Before we finish, though, it’s worth briefly mentioning that you might get a better deal if you went for the Pixel 4a 5G instead. Launching alongside the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a 5G shares the Snapdragon 765G, also has a dual-camera array and has 5G support for £100 less.