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Would you pay Rs 50,000 for the Google Pixel 5?

By ASHISH NARSALE
October 07, 2020 10:47 IST
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Will the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G phones tempt you? Are they worth their price?
Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com has the answers.

IMAGE: The Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G are almost identical. All photographs: Kind courtesy store.google.com
 

Just two months after the Pixel 4a was launched internationally -- it is yet to hit Indian shores -- Google has launched two new 5G-enabled phones.

The Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G might evoke mixed feelings as they are not flagship phones.

This time, unlike the recently launched Pixel 4/4XL, Google has focused on comparatively affordable phones with essential features.

Both the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G have almost identical hardware specifications, though the Pixel 5 has some additional premium features.

The Pixel 5 is priced at $699 (approximately Rs 51,191), while the Pixel 4a 5G will cost $499 (approximately Rs 36,544) in the US.

Will the new Pixel phones tempt you? Are they worth their price? The analysis that follows should help you decide.

Hardware

Both phones run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor -- the latest mid-ranger -- which, when compared to the 2018 flagship Snapdragon 845, is a shade less impressive.

The Pixel 5 is available with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage and the Pixel 4a 5G is embedded with 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM.

As usual, there is no SD card slot for storage expansion.

Instead, Google has a three-month offer of 100GB of cloud storage for photos and videos -- yes, you read that right; no more no unlimited cloud storage.

These phones support a single nano SIM and an eSIM that can be registered via the carrier (in selected markets).

The Pixel Neural Core, a dedicated processor chip to process the Machine Learning work load for computational photography and other features like voice and face recognition, has been dropped. And that is a huge letdown.

As this is designated to aid the main Snapdragon 765G processor, there may be a slight delay in image processing as compared to the Pixel 4/4XL.

Google has also skipped the Project Soli-based Radar system, the main reason why the Google Pixel 4/4 XL never made it to India. As a result, these phones may be available here.

But both are 5G-enabled and the 5G roll out is not expected to happen in India soon.

Currently the Pixel 5 and the 4a 5G will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States.

Despite these exclusions, Google does not skimp on security.

Both the Pixel phones are embedded with a dedicated Titan M chip to secure the OS and sensitive user data like passwords and online transactions.

IMAGE: The Pixel 4a 5G has a polycarbonate body.

Design

Here's where the cost cutting reflects the most.

The Pixel 5's body design uses recycled aluminium, while the Pixel 4a uses polycarbonate.

The former -- 5.7-inch tall and 2.8-inch wide -- has a slightly smaller body and a 6.0-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340 pixel resolution) OLED display.

The Pixel 4a 5G has a 6.1-inch tall and 2.9-inch wide body, with 6.2-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340 pixel resolution) OLED display.

The display for the Pixel 5 is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6, while the older Corning Gorilla Glass 3 does the job for the Pixel 4a 5G.

The Pixel 5 comes with IPX8 certification for protection against dust and water; the 4a 5G does not.

Camera

The main selling point of the Pixel is its photography capability.

Google phone cameras are known to click DSLR-like photos with the help of their computational photography feature.

Both the phones have identical camera hardware and features.

The two cameras in the rear include the main 12.2 MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture lens and a 16MP ultra wide sensor with f/1.7 aperture.

The main sensor supports Optical + electronic image stabilisation; this helps eliminate minor shakes while taking still photographs in low light conditions or while shooting videos in motion.

At the front, there is a fixed focus camera with an 8MP sensor and an f/2.0 aperture lens.

Since these phones don't offer face unlock, you will have to depend on the fingerprint sensor (which is the fastest and most reliable one in its category) and password, pin and pattern unlocking protection.

Software

If anyone is tempted to own a Pixel phone, it will be for the software experience and camera performance.

You get a 'vanilla' -- without any bloatware or additional unwanted features -- experience right out of Google's lab, as it was made to give a superb operating system user experience.

Also, Pixel phones are the first to get any software or security patch updates for almost three years. 

The phone is set to run on the latest Android 11 out of the box.

The on-the-fly speech to text transcription utility will attract those who want to transcribe interviews or lectures.

The transcription process also works when the phone is not connected to the Internet.

But functions like Call Screen and call 911 on accident detection will not be available in India.

IMAGE: The Pixel 5 supports wireless and wireless reverse charging.

Sound

Both phones have a dual stereo speaker setup.

They support audio through the USB type C port; the Pixel 4a 5G also retains the 3.5mm audio port.

Battery

The Pixel 5 is loaded with a 4080mAh battery whereas the Pixel 4a 5G has a slightly smaller capacity 3885mAh battery.

But that's not a big issue as both phones support fast charging and the 18W fast charger comes with the box.

The Pixel 5 also supports wireless and wireless reverse charging for Qi compatible devices (Qi -- pronounced in Chinese as Chee -- is a wireless charging system developed by the Wireless Power Consortium. It uses a charging pad on which Qi compatible devices can be placed to charge wirelessly. Nowadays portable devices like mobile phones, tablets, smart watches and TWS ear buds come with Qi-enabled systems).

Verdict

The Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G may seem attractive as far as the camera and software are concerned, but do remember that 5G is a long way from being implemented in India. And by the time that happens, there will be better phones available for the same price.

Besides, the price does seem steep considering the specs and hardware offered. If I was waiting to buy a Pixel, I would wait for the Pixel 4a which will soon be available in India.

 

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