The Google smartphone offering has grown bigger and better in recent years.

The latest flagship release – the Pixel 5 – brings 5G and some other new gizmos to the lineup.

DESIGN

The first thing you notice when you unbox the Pixel 5 is its size.

This is not a big phone – more "normal" in size, making it easy to hold and grip.

It is light too, weighing in at 151g.

The look of the device remains quite Google-ish and this is reflected in the two quirky colour names – Just Black and Sorta Sage.

The Gorilla Glass 6 covered curved corner display gives way to a wrapped around single piece aluminium body with a coloured matte finish.

Near the top of that back a fingerprint reader sits in the centre, with the quite discrete and almost level rectangular shaped camera block in the top left.

On the right is a power button and volume rocker, while the SIM tray is positioned on the left. Don't expect a slot for an SD card though, as there isn’t one, which is a bit of a disappointment.

The USB-C connector for charging, headphones and data connections sit at the bottom, as does the speaker setup.

It is a design which boasts simplicity, but is somewhat unremarkable compared to more unique looks on the new iPhone 12 range and Samsung Galaxy S20 handsets.

DISPLAY

While the overall frame of the phone feels small in the hand, that doesn’t mean you are missing out on display.

The device carries a 6-inch Full HD+ Flexible OLED screen with very tight bezels that make it feel like a decently sized, immersive experience.

There is a small punch hole for the front facing camera at the top left of the display, which doesn’t detract overly from the viewing experience.

With a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 432ppi, a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 and 24-bit depth, the screen performs well.

It is bright, with strong contrasts and smooth to use, despite only having a 90Hz refresh rate.

It also supports HDR, which is to be expected at this tier of the market.

There is also the option to have the screen always-on displaying time, date, battery and other info.

It all adds up to a decent screen experience, but perhaps not one that will set the Pixel 5 apart from its competitors.

PERFORMANCE

Under the hood the Pixel 5 packs a reasonable punch.

It is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor coupled with 8GB of RAM.

This is optimised for the latest Android 11 operating system, leading to a smooth, fast and powerful experience.

Apps open and close quickly, heavier duty apps don’t show lag and the device is well capable of running games without difficulty.

There’s 128GB of storage on board but no option to pay for more.

The 4,000 mAh battery is decent in size for such a small device and with average use you’ll easily get through the day without needing to top up.

If you do though, the device does support wireless charging, as well as fast charging using the 18W charger in the box.

You can also use it to reverse charge other wireless devices, by flipping the phone face down and placing your ear buds, or watch, or whatever on top.

To do this the phone must either be plugged into the wall or the feature has to be manually enabled.

The Pixel 5 also has a new Extreme Battery Saver feature. This will enable you to add a full day to the battery life by pausing everything while at the same time allowing you to access it.

Handy if you get stuck somewhere without a charger or just need the device to stay alive that little bit longer.

Obviously the big new selling point of the Pixel 5 is that it comes with 5G which brings a host of new possibilities, including higher quality video calls, faster mobile downloads and gaming.

CAMERA

The main camera on the device is a dual lens set-up.

The first camera is a 12.2MP dual-pixel snapper, while there is also a new 16MP ultrawide sensor.

It’s disappointing that there is no telephoto option here though, as it has given way to the ultrawide lens.

Pretty much all high-end smartphones in the category where Google hopes the Pixel 5 will compete have a triple main camera including a telephoto lens.

What the device lacks in hardware though is to some extent made up with the excellent software running in the background.

The main cameras have auto-focus with dual pixel phase detection as well as optical and electronic image stabilisation.

Night Sight kicks-in in low light environments to boost the levels, both in the default camera mode and in Portrait Mode.

But as we’ve seen before on the Pixel range, it is the use of software in post-processing that makes the real difference to image quality.

Portrait Light mode allows you to take a portrait style photo and then adjust the position of the light after you have taken a shot.

The Cinematic Pan function enables you to turn video clips into something a bit more, well, cinematic before posting to social media, through the addition of moves like pans, tilts and dollying.

In general the quality of photos produced by the main camera is pretty good – although perhaps not as high a standard as you’ll get from the iPhone 12 Max, Samsung Galaxy S20 or Huawei P40 Pro.

And if you want to get in close from a distance, all the software in the world can’t stop pixilation caused when you zoom digitally rather than with a telephoto lens.

The rear camera shoots 1080p video at up to 240fps and 4k at up to 60fps.

On the front is an 8MP camera that does the job, and can also capture 1080p video at 30fps.

OTHER FEATURES

The Pixel 5 carries an IPX8 rating which means it is water resistant.

One other interesting feature is crash detection.

It will sense if you have been in a car accident and help you to call 999 if needed.

As you would expect, Google Assistant is well embedded into the device if you like the virtual helper.

If you want a second SIM option, the Pixel 5 also supports an eSIM.

CONCLUSION

Google has done another decent job on the Pixel 5, making a simple but effectively designed device, with a respectable display, quality camera system and of course 5G.

There are some disappointing deficiencies though – chief among them the absence of any telephoto lens and SD card expansion.

The pricing though is what makes this offering particularly interesting. The Pixel 5 retails SIM free for €618 here, which is considerably less than the cost of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range or iPhone 12 range for example.

So while you might not get all the features on the Pixel that you would on those other devices, you get a lot on the Google phone, plus some change.

It is a proposition that just might swing it for some.