Product Reviews

Which Google Pixel Phone (and Gear) Should You Buy?

The Pixel 5, however, has a few extra perks that make it a more worthwhile proposition. First of all, it’s one of the more compact high-end Android phones around, so it’s a great option if you like small phones. It shares many of the same features as the Pixel 5A, including the processor, water resistance, and camera system, but you do get wireless charging and a screen with a 90-Hz refresh rate, meaning the display will look and feel more responsive as you interact with it. 

5G support on the Pixel 5 is also better. Depending on your carrier, you’ll be able to access millimeter-wave 5G, which is the super-fast version. It’s not as accessible throughout the country so this may be a moot point. However, the phone does support C-band, which is the upcoming spectrum carriers like AT&T and Verizon plan on implementing by the end of the year to deliver improved sub-6 5G access and speeds. It’s more future-proofed in this area over the Pixel 5A. 

Unfortunately, these improvements aren’t worth the $250 bump in price. Worse yet, we’re already having trouble finding the Pixel 5 at other retailers. If you want to buy it used, we don’t recommend spending more than $450 on it

Avoid These Older Pixel Phones

The Pixel 3 range is too old, and that includes the Pixel 3A. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL suffer from poor battery performance. All of these older phones will also stop getting software updates in 2022. You’re better off buying one of the newer models.

Cases and Accessories We Like

Google Pixel Stand.

Photograph: Google 

The official Pixel 5A case feels like it delivers more protection than previous ones from Google. It comes in several fun colors, has a dual-layer design that helps absorbs shocks when you drop it, and has raised edges on the front to protect the screen. The inner layer is made with 75 percent recycled plastic. My only gripe is that it’s not very svelte, which adds heft to an already large phone.

Of all the Pixel cases I’ve tried, this feels the best. It has a wonderful texture that’s pleasant to touch, and the case keeps a slim profile. The buttons remain clicky, and the ports are well exposed. It’s affordable, but the front edges aren’t raised. There’s a good chance the screen will hit the ground when you drop it.

Pixel phones don’t have a great track record with screen durability—they scratch easily. For the new Pixel 5A, I like Caseology’s tempered glass screen protector. Installation is easy and it includes a squeegee to get rid of air bubbles. You get two screen protectors for the price, including a microfiber cloth, a wipe, and dust removal stickers.

This dual-layer case from Otterbox feels really tough, yet it’s fairly slim. The edges around the camera module and front screen are raised, the buttons are easy to press, and the headphone jack and USB-C port are protected from the elements. This one offers a step up in terms of protection compared to the above picks. 

This plastic case is made from 85 percent recycled plastic from salvaged fishing gear. It’s a sturdy and tough case that keeps its shape, and the buttons on the side remain clicky even after extended use. If you buy a case, LifeProof donates a dollar to a water conservation nonprofit of your choice.

The Pixels have great cameras, but you can take them further by using third-party lenses like these from Moment. Slap on a fisheye lens for a fun, distorted photo effect. Use a 58-mm telephoto to get even closer to your subject. Whatever lens you pick, you’ll need a Moment case for the system to work. The company’s cases don’t add much heft to the phone, the buttons are still clicky, and there’s a nice grippy texture on the back. It takes about two seconds to attach or remove a lens with a simple twist. Unfortunately, Moment isn’t making a case for the new Pixel 5A 5G.

This is a good Pixel case with a kickstand. You can prop it up at various angles with the foldable leather flap on the back in a horizontal or vertical orientation. It can even store a credit card or two. It’s chunky, and the cards can be a little tough to remove, but the buttons are easy to press. It also has raised edges on the front to protect the screen. 

Here’s another solid (and affordable) kickstand case. It’s thick but offers good protection and the buttons remain very clicky. Unfortunately, the kickstand only props up the phone in landscape orientation. Not so great for binging TikToks hands-free.

Wireless charging is only available on the Pixel 5 (out of the Pixels in this guide). Google’s very own Pixel Stand is one of the best wireless chargers around because it’s simple. The base doesn’t slide around, the phone stays put, and it enables some fun features, like turning the screen into a digital photo frame and quick access to Google Assistant. Our Best Wireless Chargers guide has more options.

Hidden Tricks to Try If You Get a Pixel

Google’s Hold for Me. 

Video: Google

There are some key features exclusive to Pixels you won’t find on any other Android phone. Here’s a quick breakdown so you take advantage of them:

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