The Pixel 5 looks to be a reimagining of Google’s smartphone strategy, with many signs pointing towards a “fixed” version of the Pixel 4 in a pack that takes design cues from the excellent Pixel 4a.
The Google Pixel series might make up the most frustrating range of phones ever. From the beginning, it seemed as though Google’s phones would be fierce – bringing together a stock Android UI and a stunning camera experience.
However, a multitude of setbacks have meant that the Pixel has never cemented its place among the best of the best and, with the Pixel 4, Google truly fell on its sword. Here’s what we want from the Pixel 5 to see it finally grab some smartphone glory.
Related: We handed Google’s latest release a Recombu Gold Award, read full our Pixel 4a review
1. Fix the bonkers battery life
The Pixel 4 had a few faults but few were as infuriatingly impactful as the naff battery life. As soon as we heard that Google’s latest handset would have a 2800mAh cell, we were anxious – then the news came that the phone would have a 90Hz display. Uh oh.
Normally, a higher refresh rate display would be cause for celebration but that combo was just asking for trouble. Regular use of the phone wasn’t that far behind competitors, if a bit worse, but when the phone was stressed with games or heavier loads then battery drain resembled the bursting of a dam.
The Pixel 5 will have to be a major improvement on its predecessor if it’s to have success in the mid-range market we expect it to slide into, with the likes of OnePlus 8 and its much stronger battery life being a key challenger.
2. A splash of premium
While the Pixel 5 looks set to be ditching the high-end flagship goals of previous iterations, the new phone still needs to have some aspects of premium design. Phones like the OnePlus 8, Realme X50 5G and iPhone SE all represent cheaper phones that still use premium materials and offer near-flagship looks.
The Pixel 5 can’t just be a Pixel 4a with better internals. If so, prospective Google fans will continue to flock to competitors that offer more for your money. The inclusion of better materials and a couple of more modern tweaks is all we ask.
3. The next step up in Pixel photography
Google’s post-processing has stood at the top of the mountain for many years, ever with strong challenges from Huawei and Apple, but the Pixel 5 needs to go beyond last year’s offering.
Rumours are pointing to a dual camera return for Pixel 5, which is perfectly fine, but Google really needs to give its photo-processing capabilities a serious boost. While competent, the Pixel 4 had its camera crown stolen by the incredible iPhone 11 Pro, which felt like a giant leap for smartphone photography in general. If Google’s serious about winning people back, it needs to figure out a way of showing that it has Apple beat in the camera department.
4. Don’t fall behind on biometric tech
Google put quite the focus on its front-facing camera tech with the Pixel 4 – from Face Unlock to Soli-powered gestures – but not many people were ranting and raving about the new addition come launch.
While we aren’t craving its return for Pixel 5, rumours are suggesting the new phone could feature a rear fingerprint sensor akin to Pixel 4a and previous Pixel iterations. A rear fingerprint scanner is fine but when rivals like the OnePlus 8 are sporting handy under-display scanner tech, reverting to the old Pixel formula would feel like a step backwards.
5. Shave down those bezels
Something that could be helped if Google opts to ditch its Pixel 4 front-facing camera tech are those “chunky” bezels. Well, chunky may be a bit harsh as we are spoiled with razor-thin bezels on many phones, but the Pixel 4 was certainly playing catch up – featuring a sizeable chin and forehead.
If Pixel 5 is getting a similar punch-hole cut-out for the selfie camera that Pixel 4a has then there’s little excuse for those belligerent bezels. A phone-spanning high refresh rate display would go some way to grabbing eyeballs for Pixel 5 that Google desperately needs.