For most of last year, up until the Pixel 6 dropped, I used Google’s Pixel 5, one of the weirdest phones released by the company in some time. The phone launched at the end of 2020 as a part of the pandemic, came off like a placeholder while Google worked on something better, was overpriced, and featured few improvements over the previous year’s Pixel 4 line, yet I couldn’t get enough of it. It was almost a perfect phone for my needs, even if there were other, more powerful and polished phones on the market.
When the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro finally rolled around, I gave up that Pixel 5, even if the larger size of the new Pixels almost turned me off. I really was anxious to dive into Google’s new offerings because of that size. However, with big redesigns and their first chip, it was clear within a matter of weeks that Google had made really nice new phones that most people would enjoy and could afford, even if there were some software issues and update delays that annoyed the diehards among us.
I bring all of this up because both my brother and mom have been running a Pixel 3 for a couple of years now and realized within recent months that it might be time to upgrade. Battery life had severely degraded on their smaller Pixel 3 units and they also knew that software support had ended. They turned to me to talk phones and I initially told them they should probably go for the regular Pixel 6. The phone was the smallest of Google’s new devices and also quite affordable at $600. They weren’t sold.
They weren’t sold for the same reason I wasn’t – the size. Neither wanted to adopt a whale, even as close as we all live to the ocean in Oregon, so I told them they could consider a Pixel 5 with one caveat. They should only consider Google’s Pixel 5 if it was around the $300 mark. But I recommended it because it really is a built phone for those who need a manageable device with an excellent camera, incredible battery life, the Google software experience, and lots of software support still to come (through 2023). And that’s everything they want. It also helped that I raved about the weird little guy.
My brother was the first to pull the trigger on a Pixel 5 from eBay, marked as “open box,” for around $300-$350. It’s basically a brand new phone, just not in retail packaging. He’s been using it for a couple of weeks, is pretty blown away by battery life, and talked my mom into ordering one. Her’s showed up this past week and she brought it over for help setting it up, which is basically how this post was born.
Damn do I miss that phone. She bought a green version and my brother a black model, both of which feel incredible in hand. There’s this premium feel to the Pixel 5 that is unassuming because Google coated all of the metal in a textured plastic. But the phone is absolutely the perfect size, plus that balance of bezel around the display is a joy to look at. Not only that, but the phone isn’t the oddly elongated setup of all other phones (like the Pixel 6 line) and feels more throw-back style in shape, with a boxier iPhone-like design.
Holding each of their phones reminded me of my time with the Pixel 5 and everything I enjoyed about it. I took a ton of pictures with it over the year I used it, all of which are good enough. I got updates on time, all of the time, and was even able to test out Android 12 through previews and betas. The 90Hz display was fast and smooth enough, and yeah, the battery life was absurdly good. Oh, and the back not being glass is a huge bonus. I used a case at times, but mostly didn’t, and never once had to worry about gently placing it down over fears of cracking. Glass backsides really suck, still.
Sometimes the phone that everyone ignored needs to have a light shined on it. Google may have used the Pixel 5 as a space filler while it worked on its future, the Pixel 6, but I think it was their best Pixel alongside the Pixel 2 XL.