We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Is the Google Pixel 5 Still Worth Buying?

The Pixel 5 smartphone on a stump.
Cameron Summerson / Review Geek
The Pixel 5 is a serious bargain in 2023, but it will receive its final OS and security updates by the end of the year. For that reason, you may want to choose a newer phone instead.

The Google Pixel 5 was our favorite smartphone of 2020, largely thanks to its awesome camera quality, ultra-comfortable design, and reasonable price tag. Today, you can buy the Pixel 5 for less than $200—it’s an incredible value, but unfortunately, it may not be the best long-term investment.

Note that the Pixel 5 was discontinued in late 2021. If you buy this phone, it will be “renewed” or “refurbished,” usually by the retailer that you purchase it from.

The Pixel 5 Is Still an Excellent Phone

Despite its modest looks, the Pixel 5 is a very capable device. Its Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset is comparable to what you’ll find in today’s sub-$300 phones, and its 6-inch OLED display OLED sports a  90Hz with support for HDR10+.

But we’re more interested in the Pixel 5’s camera quality and design, which are the two things that help stand out from similarly-priced devices. This phone uses a modest 12.2MP main camera and 16MP ultra-wide lens, but it shoots amazing photos thanks to Google’s computational photography software.

The above photos were shot in 2020 for our Pixel 5 review. Note the quality of the indoor shots—I’m still impressed by how well these cameras work in low-light environments. And the ultra-wide camera still stands up to that of the Pixel 7, which I reviewed in late 2022.

We only have a few complaints about the Pixel 5’s cameras. First, the phone can take a while to finish processing an image, which makes it difficult to shoot a ton of photos back-to-back. And we’re not a fan of this device’s 2x zoom setting, which has a noticeable impact on image quality (though the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 also suffer from this problem).

But what about the Pixel 5’s design? Well, this was the last Pixel phone to prioritize ergonomics over flashiness. Its 6-inch screen is easy to use with one hand, and its plastic chassis contributes to an incredibly lightweight design. Plus, its rear-mounted fingerprint reader is way more intuitive (and responsive) than the under-display fingerprint sensors in today’s Pixel phones.

And notably, the Pixel 5 is more durable than new phones in the sub-$300 price bracket. Its screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6, and an IP68 rating ensures flagship-level dust and water resistance. The plastic body also contributes to durability—plastic doesn’t shatter like glass!

How Does the Pixel 5 Compare to Newer Devices?

The Google Pixel 5's camera array.
Justin Duino / Review Geek

This may come as a surprise, but the Pixel 5 isn’t radically different from Google’s newer phones. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 offer noticeable improvements in some areas, but they aren’t a long way off from the Pixel 5. (After all, the Pixel 5 is only a few years old!)

Let’s start with the cameras, since that’s the big selling point for Google’s phones. The Pixel 5’s cameras are fantastic, but Google made the leap to a 50MP camera sensor in the Pixel 6. In some situations, particularly low-light or night photography, this provides a massive boost in photo quality.

But when you shoot photos in suitable lighting, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6’s cameras. The only tangible difference is Google’s image processing algorithm, which is a bit more aggressive on the Pixel 5 and may over-sharpen images. (The Pixel 7’s camera quality is only slightly better than that of the Pixel 6, by the way.)

In terms of processing power, Google claims that the Pixel 6 is “80% faster” than the Pixel 5. But this boost in performance mainly contributes to Google’s artificial intelligence software. As a result, the Pixel 6 isn’t that much faster than the Pixel 5, but it offers some exclusive features, including a Motion photography mode, Live Translate, faster voice typing, and transcriptions for audio menus (“press 1 for English,” etc) when calling businesses.

And while the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch display is larger than that of the Pixel 5, both phones cap out at 90Hz. The same goes for the Pixel 7. If you want a 120Hz refresh rate, you need to blow your budget on a Pixel 6 Pro or Pixel 7 Pro.

Google Pixel 5 (Renewed)

The Google Pixel 5 is still an excellent smartphone, especially if you need high-quality cameras at a low price. Unfortunately, the Pixel 5 will receive its final OS and security updates in late 2023, meaning that it isn't the best long-term investment.

Unfortunately, the Pixel 5 Has a Limited Support Cycle

The Google Pixel 5 sitting on a table with the Android 11 on its display.
Justin Duino / Review Geek

All things considered, the Pixel 5 is still a fantastic phone. And now that it’s a few years old, you can grab a Pixel 5 for under $200. But there’s one big problem that might dissuade you from buying a Pixel 5; the support cycle.

According to Google’s support page, the Pixel 5 will receive its final OS and security updates in October of 2023. The lack of OS updates isn’t a big deal—Google’s done a great job ensuring app compatibility across older versions of Android. In two or three years, the Pixel 5 will still run your favorite apps, even if it’s stuck on Android 14.

But security updates are very important. After October of 2023, the list of known Pixel 5 vulnerabilities will start to pile up. And any personal information accessed through the Pixel 5, such as banking data, may not be protected against malware or hackers.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know exactly when a phone will become a security risk. That’s why we suggest replacing your Android phone within a year of its final security update.

For what it’s worth, the Pixel 5a (a slightly downgraded version of the Pixel 5) is set to receive updates  until August of 2024. If you’re just looking for a cheap phone with good cameras, the Pixel 5a may be a better option than the phone we’re discussing today.

If you’re deeply concerned about security updates, you should consider one of Google’s newer phones (which enjoy a much longer support cycle than previous devices). The Pixel 6 gets security updates until 2026, while the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7 will enjoy security updates until 2027.

Google Pixel 5A (Renewed)

The Google Pixel 5A is a slight downgrade from the Pixel 5, but it will continue receiving software updates until 2024.

Should You Buy the Pixel 5?

Holding the Sage Green Google Pixel 5.
Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

Those who need a cheap-but-awesome phone should seriously consider the Pixel 5. It offers killer camera quality, a comfortable design, and an impressive 90Hz OLED display. The only major drawback, of course, is that updates for this device will end in late 2023.

I don’t think that the Pixel 5 is a good long-term investment. If you like to keep your phone for a few years, you should buy something newer for the sake of security. But hey, maybe you just need something to tide you over for a while. In that case, the Pixel 5 is a bargain.

If you’re concerned about security, look into the Pixel 5a or the Pixel 6a. Both phones are inexpensive and will continue receiving updates after 2023. That said, the Pixel 6a might be the best option of the bunch, as it’s guaranteed to receive security updates for another four years.

Google Pixel 6a

Why not upgrade to the Google Pixel 6a? It's more powerful than the Pixel 5, and it will receive updates until 2027.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »