Why the Pixel 5 (not the Pixel 6) will be my favorite Google phone in 2022 – Digital Trends | Hot Mobile Press

Right now is an exciting time for Google’s Pixel family. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are still going strong over eight months after their release – and have only gotten better thanks to frequent software updates. The mid-range Pixel 6a is just around the corner, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are coming this fall, and the mysterious Pixel tablet is set to launch in 2023.

But for most of this year, I haven’t thought about Google’s current lineup or what’s in the pipeline. Instead, I’m excited for 2020’s Pixel 5. Nowadays it is not a perfect smartphone. The Snapdragon 765G chipset takes an extra clock to load some apps, certain animations are a bit choppy, and my earbud speaker inexplicably stopped working for stereo audio. But despite these signs of aging, I get a queasy feeling every time I pick up the Pixel 5. It’s comfortable, familiar, and my favorite Pixel over the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in my office drawer.

Why submit to an almost two-year-old cell phone when its objectively better siblings are available to me? I have my reasons.

It’s the perfect size

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Small phones are a dying breed in our current market. Apple has been testing the waters with the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini for the past few years, but that experiment appears to have failed. After numerous reports of disappointing sales of the mini iPhone, all signs point to Apple scrapping it this year in favor of an oversized iPhone 14 Max. This is also evident throughout the Android space. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have 6.4-inch and 6.7-inch displays, the OnePlus 10 Pro comes with a 6.7-inch screen, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a massive 6.8-inch Canvas. Big phones are in, and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon.

The Pixel 5 is a wonderful exception to this rule. The 6-inch display might not sound tiny on paper, but the phone’s overall dimensions make it tiny compared to newer flagships. The Pixel 5 is 144.7mm high and 70.4mm wide. The Galaxy S22 Ultra? It is 163.3mm high and 77.9mm wide.

Is the Pixel 5 the smallest phone I’ve ever seen? Not at all. But I think it strikes an incredible balance of offering plenty of screen space while still being practical for everyday life. I have plenty of room to watch a YouTube video or play a round Call of Duty: Mobilebut the Pixel 5 is also compact enough that I can slip it into a small bag without fear of it crawling over the top.

So light and comfortable

Someone is holding a green Pixel 5 and showing its back.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Equally important is the weight of the Pixel 5. Not only is it a compact smartphone, it’s also featherweight. At 155g, the Pixel 5 weighs a fraction of its newer Android counterparts. The Pixel 6 weighs 207g, the Pixel 6 Pro 210g and the Galaxy S22 Ultra a whopping 228g. Telephones have not only gotten bigger, but also heavier.

I didn’t pay much attention to that when I first got the Pixel 5. But fast-forward to 2022 with everyday use of the iPhone 13 Pro, and it’s quickly become one of the main reasons I love using the Pixel 5 so much. Weighing in at 204g, it doesn’t take long for my iPhone 13 Pro to feel uncomfortable in your hand thanks to the glass back and stainless steel frame. It’s not that holding the heaviest smartphone available is impossible, but it’s unmistakably a weighty device. Call it “premium feeling” if you will, but I find it annoyingly intense. This also applies to the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and all other modern handsets that weigh over 200g.

In comparison, the Pixel 5 is significantly more comfortable. I can easily hold it in one hand without having to rest it on my pinky for extra support. I can use it lying in bed in the morning and not worry about it falling on my face. Being ~50g lighter than other smartphones might not sound like a big deal, but – combined with the Pixel 5’s compact body – makes the Pixel 5 a phone I enjoy more than anything else. It’s not a factor we often consider when reviewing smartphones, but in day-to-day use I would argue that it’s one of the most important.

attention to detail

The Google Pixel 5 on a table.  We see the front of the phone with the display on.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The Pixel 5’s size and weight are the easiest to mention. But there are many smaller details that I love just as much. Take the material of the back of the phone. Although it’s technically an aluminum unibody, the whole thing is covered in a special “bio-resin coating” that makes it feel soft and smooth. It also gives the Pixel 5 a subtle speckled pattern on the back that looks particularly good on the Sage Green color. The Pixel 6 line’s huge camera bar is interesting to look at, but when you hold it in your hand, the glass back feels like any other flagship in recent years. Almost two years later, the Pixel 5’s hand feel is still very special.

Another thing Google never got enough credit for was the Pixel 5’s uniform bezels around the entire display – something it abandoned with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The top, bottom, left, and right sides of the screen all have perfectly symmetrical bezels. It is a very It’s a small detail worth emphasizing, but it shows how much work has gone into the development of the phone. And with regular use, this symmetry allows me to ignore the bezels and focus solely on the screen, more so than phones with different bezel sizes.

And of course there’s the tried and tested Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. Unlike the Pixel 6’s in-screen sensor, it’s fast, reliable, and performs exactly as I would expect.

Not only has Google nailed the functionality, but they’ve made the fingerprint sensor one of the best smartphone gestures of all time. Swipe down to see your notifications, swipe down again to see your quick settings, and swipe up to hide them. It was magic then, it’s magic now, and I miss it a lot when I’m using the Pixel 6.

The Pixel 5 remains my favorite Google phone

Someone is holding the Google Pixel 5. Yellow flowers in the background, slightly out of focus.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Are the things I mentioned above game changers that have taken the industry by storm? Not at all! If anything, the Pixel 5 was a dud for Google. It got off to a rocky start, wasn’t clearly marketed as a flagship or mid-range device, and was easily outperformed by the Pixel 6.

But I don’t care about these things. All I care about is how it feels to use the Pixel 5. And in that regard, the phone still feels pretty magical. The small design, lightweight body, soft back, consistent bezels, and beautiful fingerprint sensor all combine to create a phone that’s best described as “comfortable.” Where the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro feel like they’re chasing the usual flagship formula, the Pixel 5 has dropped them to try something different. That strategy might not have been a commercial success for Google, but it produced an Android phone I can’t seem to tear myself away from.

As much as I love using the Pixel 5 in 2022, it’s not a phone I really recommend going out and buying if you don’t already have one. Google shut it down with the launch of the Pixel 6 last year, and by all accounts the Pixel 6 is a better product. It has a more powerful chipset, better cameras, additional software features, and will receive longer updates than the Pixel 5. There’s a reason we think the Pixel 6 is one of the best phones for 2022 — even if it’s lost some of that , which made the Pixel 5 great. I can’t imagine Google ever releasing another phone like the Pixel 5, but if I could go my greedy way with things, I certainly would.

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