The Google Pixel 5 is Google’s latest flagship and the successor to Google Pixel 4 from 2019. However, the new phone isn’t as an upgrade as you might expect – in fact, it’s probably not an upgrade at all like the chipset lies in the middle range and the price is temptingly low.
Hence, you may be wondering whether it is better to just use a Pixel 4 instead, or is it worth upgrading from Pixel 4 to Pixel 5? To help you answer these questions, we compared the two phones based on their core specs and features, as well as – in the case of the Pixel 4 – our hands-on experience.
So read on to see how the new Google Pixel 5 holds up against the older Google Pixel 4 in all the key areas ̵
From the back, the Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 5 look pretty similar. Both have a square camera block in the upper left corner and a Google logo in the lower corner. Otherwise, they are in the vicinity of strange monochrome plates.
However, there are two main differences. First, the Pixel 5 has a fingerprint scanner on the back, while the Pixel 4 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner at all. The other big difference is that while the back of the Pixel 4 is made of glass, Google made the unusual choice of using aluminum for the Pixel 5.
The colors of the back also differ – the Pixel 4 is available in black, white and orange, while the Pixel 5 is available in either green or black.
From the front, these phones look very different because while the Google Pixel 4 has a large bezel above the screen that houses the front-facing camera, the Google Pixel 5 has a more modern (and Pixel 4a-like) punch Pinhole camera and minimal bezel. However, one thing you get with both phones is water and dust resistance.
In terms of dimensions and weight, the Google Pixel 5 is 144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm and 151 g, while the Pixel 4 is 147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2 mm and 162 g. So the size is very similar, but the Pixel 5 is a bit shorter, wider, thinner and lighter.
The Pixel 5 has a larger screen than the Pixel 4: it’s a 6-inch OLED display with 1080 x 2340 pixels, 432 pixels per inch and a refresh rate of 90 Hz.
The Google Pixel 4 has a 5.7-inch format with a slightly lower resolution of 1080 x 2280 and 444 pixels per inch. It’s still OLED, however, and it also has a 90Hz refresh rate, so interactions should feel just as smooth.
On paper, there are minimal differences between these two screens – the Pixel 5s are a bit bigger, but that’s all. Of course, it could work better in practice, but we won’t know that until we’ve put the phone through our testing process.
For what it’s worth, we were pretty impressed with the Pixel 4’s screen, calling it “bright and colorful” in our review.
As with the screen, there isn’t much of a difference between the cameras on these two phones, at least on paper.
Both have a dual lens camera with a 12.2MP f / 1.7 main snapper. While the Pixel 4 has a 16 MP 1: 2.4 telephoto camera (with 2x optical zoom), the Pixel 5 swaps this for a 16 MP 1: 2.2 Ultra from one wide. Both phones have an 8MP camera on the front.
The fact that the Pixel 5 has the same main camera isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the Google Pixel 4’s snapper is excellent. In our test, we called it “great” and found that it performs well even in poor lighting conditions.
But we also liked the telephoto camera. It remains to be seen whether switching to an ultra-wide camera on the Pixel 5 will prove the right decision.
A big upgrade to the Google Pixel 5 is the battery, as the phone has a 4,080 mAh cell while the Pixel 4 only has 2,800 mAh.
It remains to be seen whether this will lead to a significantly better service life for the Pixel 5. While Google claims that both phones offer “all day” lifespan, we found in our Pixel 4 review that the phone has “frustratingly short” battery life and the phone often fails to last a full day.
We therefore definitely hope that the larger capacity leads to a significantly longer service life. It probably is, but we will surely let you know once we have a full review of the Pixel 5.
Both phones support 18W fast charging and both phones support wireless charging.
Technical data and functions
The Google Pixel 5 has an upper mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. While these specs are reasonable, the processor can’t compete with the Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 865 Plus found in phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
In fact, it’s questionable whether the Pixel 5’s chipset is an upgrade from the Pixel 4 at all, namely the Snapdragon 855. That’s an older chipset, but it was high-end at launch. However, it’s paired with just 6GB of RAM in the Pixel 4, as well as 64GB or 128GB of storage. It’s also worth noting that the Google Pixel 5 supports 5G, but the Pixel 4 doesn’t.
In terms of software, both phones will run Android 11 – although the Pixel 5 will be ready to use right out of the box, the Pixel 4 will boot to Android 10 and will likely not receive any updates until the Pixel 5 does.
One of the biggest features of the Pixel 4 was Motion Sense. This way the phone will recognize when you are nearby and automatically turn on the screen. You can also make aerial gestures over the screen so you can interact with your handset without touching it.
However, we found that its usefulness was limited and that the battery was draining heavily. So, it may not come as a surprise that Google stopped the feature for Pixel 5.
However, one thing you get with the Google Pixel 5 is a fingerprint scanner. Located on the back of the phone, this is something the Pixel 4 doesn’t have at all – it relies on facial recognition instead.
Price and availability
The Google Pixel 5 costs $ 699 / £ 599 / AU $ 1,079. It’s not yet available at the time of writing, but you can pre-order it now and it will land on October 15th.
The Google Pixel 4 has been on sale for a while, of course, starting at $ 799 / £ 669 / AU $ 1,049 for 64GB of storage and rising to $ 899 / £ 769 / AU $ 1,199 for 128GB.
So the Pixel 5 is actually cheaper than its predecessor, presumably thanks to its smaller chipset – although the Pixel 4 will likely be heavily discounted once the Pixel 5 lands, so you might be able to find the older phone for less than the new one.
Based on first impressions, the Google Pixel 5 is a bit strange – it’s a clear upgrade of the Pixel 4 in some ways, offering a bigger battery, 5G, more RAM, and a bigger screen.
But the chipset is arguably a downgrade, and some other aspects are either the same or different without necessarily being better, such as switching from a telephoto lens to an ultra-wide-angle lens.
The phone is priced accordingly, but as the successor to the Pixel 4, it could disappoint people hoping for a Google flagship in 2020. We need to do a full review to be sure, however – and the lower price tag may make the phone more mainstream in appeal than its predecessor.