Google Pixel 5 review: An off year for Pixel fans

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It used to be that, if you bought a Google Pixel, you were getting a powerful smartphone with some of the cleanest, most clever software around. Then, last year, things started to change: Google started offering lower-cost smartphones that, while maybe not as technically impressive, retained that focus on excellent software and intelligent features. That embrace of the mid-range has culminated in Google’s 2020 smartphone lineup. There’s the cheap and cheerful Pixel 4a, the slightly slicker Pixel 4a 5G, and now the Pixel 5 — a device that seems more like a lateral move from the 4a than a significant upgrade.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider what the Pixel 5 offers. Google’s approach to Android is as charming as ever, and at $700, the Pixel 5 is one of the least expensive Pixels ever, at least if you discount all those deliberately lower-end ‘a’ phones. (To wit, it costs $100 less than the Pixel 4 did last year.) And now that 5G networks are widely available, you can finally use a Pixel to tap into them. Those are all good things, but Google has a problem: There's now a handful of excellent phones in the same price range, and I'm not convinced the Pixel 5 has what it takes to beat them.

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