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You're almost there, Google: The Pixel 5 looks like a phone I'd spend my own money on

Google Pixel 5 Lifestyle
Google Pixel 5 Lifestyle (Image credit: Google)

If you find 100 different people using 100 different models of phones you'll still find they all have one thing in common: something made the phone they bought attractive to them. Usually, that one thing is all based on the price.

I don't mean that a cheap phone is automatically something more people will like, either. I mean that when a device as simple yet as complicated as a phone can strike the right balance of features versus price, people will find value in it. And when we find things we feel are valuable, it's a lot easier for us to buy them.

This is why a $400 phone and a $2,400 phone can both find a home with someone who thinks they paid just the right amount of cash for just the right amount of features. But no matter how you slice up the feature-to-value ratio, it's pretty easy to say that it's eluded Google the past few years. I think the Pixel 5 changes that.

It's not the price: it's what you get for the price.

Right about here people are ready to tell me about mediocre this and mid-range that and how Google can't compete in 2021 and a bunch of other things I already understand. I also can't say I disagree — You might have a need for very specific hardware and are unable to be content with anything you feel isn't good enough. We're all that way with some things and it's why some prefer Chevy to Ford or two wheels to four or Chips Ahoy to Oreo. But I'm willing to bet that most people only care about one thing — that the phone they buy is pretty damn good at doing all those smartphone things a phone should be able to do.

That leaves only one other part — the price. Don't get me wrong — I think the Pixel 5 would have been a lot better at $599 than it is at $699 but I'm also a realist who knows that things cost money. I also have to admit that it could very well suck at doing all those smartphone things we seem to think it will be able to do so well, but I'm betting that it's just fine there, too.

A phone that doesn't try to be crazy special or have some silly feature that nobody will ever use that also doesn't cost an arm and a leg is not something Google has been able to show us for a while. This one might be it, and the Pixel 5 actually looks like a Pixel phone I would not only be okay using but one I would be willing to buy.

Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

I'd like a $599 Pixel 5 more than the $699 Pixel 5 but I'm also a realist.

I use too many phones, but most of them come from the company I work for. A good diesel mechanic has a box of wrenches and sockets, I have cables and phones. If you were to ask me the last phone from Google that I just bought because it filled the right need at the right time, it would probably be the Nexus 5X. It was dirt cheap and ran reasonably well and did everything Android was supposed to be able to do, and that made it worth a couple of hundred bucks. It wasn't the best Android phone or even the best phone from Google at the time, but it was worth buying if you needed a phone. At least to me, it was. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a feel the same way, I just didn't need a phone right then and hate to spend money that I don't need to spend.

That's where I am with the Pixel 5. I understand that this isn't a glowing endorsement and I'm not worshipping the damn thing. It's just a phone. But it looks like it will be a very solid phone at the right price point which makes it a very good value. Almost like Google learned a thing or two from the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a launches, huh?

I have a like-new Pixel 4 here so I doubt I'm going to rush out and do the whole new phone thing. There's just no need and in a lot of ways a Pixel 5 isn't much different than a 4. But I like knowing that if I had to do it, Google has something I think is worth buying right now so who knows. That green doesn't look too terrible.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

22 Comments
  • My OG Pixel died in May and I got a OnePlus 8 through T-Mobile. While I love that device, I am missing the Pixel software and am a little sad that I am missing out on this phone.
  • Shattered the screen on my 3a a few weeks ago and am currently using an iPhone SE. Great device for the price but iOS just isn’t Android. Too many compromises. I have pre-ordered the Pixel 5. I seem to be in the minority in thinking the pricing is perfect. When I buy a device, the experience is what matters to me the most. The One Plus phones seem really great but.. They are 100% Chinese and my info will not be trusted on one. Minus the hideous hole punch, the Pixel 5 seems like the perfect phone for me.
  • Does it ship with Android 10 or 11?
  • Ships with Android 11
  • Agreed not a worthwhile upgrade from the 4/4xl I don't go out enough these days to ever have battery issues. This year I went with the note. It's been great but I still miss that pixel life
  • I think Google could have nailed it by offering a non-5G variant for $599. I think they lose more than they gain by only offering the more expensive 5G model.
  • Nah. If they had a non 5G version no would spend the extra money on 5G which is mostly useless right now. Also, they would've spent more money for little in return. From a business perspective the way they did it was much smarter. From a customer perspective it's hostile and option limited.
  • What do you expect. The customer is not the main focus. Its the bottom line. People are like lemmings. They will buy it either way. So what the CX whats means less than nothing.
  • 5 generations... still can't get it right.
  • I would buy this if I needed a phone. I'd hold out as long as I could to let them sort out the likely bugs and maybe get a discount.. I don't need a phone though, my Pixel 3 is doing just fine and should through the next year.....
  • Wait til black friday for sales
  • 4a 5G seems to be the better of the deal. I just can't see paying $200 extra for +2GB RAM, wireless charging, the 90 Hz screen and IP68 with the smaller screen. Like the author said, it's about value, and none of those features move the needle at all for that kind of extra $. I really am sold on the idea of upgrading to a mid-ranger every other year rather than a top notch phone every 4-5 years. Google nailed the one most important thing which is camera. If they go back and add the telephoto to make it a 3 camera setup and still keep the price in the $500 range and make a phone that can hang for 3 years spec wise they will crush it. I will throw the money at them. iPhone SE has a great processor but the small screen and lesser camera performance compared to the 4a 5G is too much of a deal breaker.
  • "But I'm willing to bet that most people only care about one thing — that the phone they buy is pretty damn good at doing all those smartphone things a phone should be able to do." That about sums it up, with the caveat of price balancing out expectations. I basically started with a list of capabilities I needed, prioritized them, and went shopping. It turned out well, and two years later I'm still happy. Google does seem to be getting closer to what people want. The Pixel 5 is not $1000, it does have an excellent camera for photos, they finally got a wide angle, and someone protected it from the ugly stick! 90 Hz display is a nice balance between smoothness and battery drain, and a normal headphone jack is a nice touch, even if this is not a phone for audiophiles. Hopefully there will be no significant hardware flaws, and if that's the case, the only significant deal breaker for many may be video quality.
  • The pixel 5 does not have a headphone jack
  • I'm in the UK, so the price is perfect for me. If I was in the USA, I think that price would be a little too high for just an additional 5G bandwidth with questionable necessity: I'm fine with sub6. The gap between the 4A 5G and the 5 in the UK is also just right, where the elevated price between the two phones turns into a chasm that I think will make a lot of customers feel unhappy. I'm very much looking forward to getting one, especially with the Google store's free Bose headphones offer. I kind of wish they were some type of buds rather than over-ear but that's still a great deal.
  • As always, wait a bit for the black Friday deals where google typically slashes 100-150 USD of the new pixel phones or will give some perks with it.
    Every year, the pre-ordering people are getting upset when the phone is discounted 2-4 later...
  • It's pretty obvious by this point to wait for Holiday deals and secure a good price.
  • samsung fe beats the pixel 5 in almost category and proves you can put a 865 processor and still charge the same price as the mediocre processor found on the pixel 5. goggle keeps making mistake after mistake every year. no wonder pixel doesn't sell
  • I'm glad it's your money, because it will not be my money! LOL
    Overpriced piece of junk! It's way past time for Google to get out of the hardware business and "hopefully" put their billions in revenue into providing a good, solid, Android experience and quit trying to be the masters of everything because as is clearly evident...it will NOT work! It never does.
  • I can’t wait to pounce on this phone when it on sale for less than 600
  • At least Google has finally conceded that Pixel will never be the Android iPhone. Still, the S20FE is a far better phone.
  • Outside of the 📷's the S20 FE, same price better features. Plus Amazon has it for 599.00, kinda a no-brainer at that price. The 865, 120hz, & a 4500mamp battery. Easy choice. Asking 700.00 for the 765processer is not a road I wish to travel!