Whenever a new version of Android is released, there’s always a rush to throw it on a compatible Pixel phone just so you can play around with new features. The same rang true when the first Android 12 Developer Preview was dropped, but there are some differences between this version and Developer Preview’s of years past.
We’ve covered many of the new features that can be found in Android 12, but not all of these are “user-facing”. This means that the new ‘Silky Home’ settings interface can only be enabled when plugging your Pixel into a computer and using ADB commands to activate it. But I would argue that there’s some Google magic going on in the background fixing the biggest problem with almost every flagship smartphone today — battery life.
For the sake of transparency, I was only using the Pixel 5 sporadically ahead of the release of Android 12. Instead, I’ve been bouncing around between the likes of the ZTE Blade, OnePlus Nord N10, and Galaxy S21 Ultra. This pre-requisite is a necessity, just because I have no “entrenched” feelings on what battery life looked like on Android 11.
Battery life is a dream
Moving past that, I decided to pop my primary SIM card into the Pixel 5 for the last week and a half or so, and there was one recurring realization. Battery life was absolutely, positively incredible. Using the Pixel 5 for everything from playing Pokemon Go to keeping track of MLB Spring Training and endlessly scrolling Twitter or Reddit, there was nothing that I could do to “kill” the battery.
Sure, some things like watching YouTube videos, or leaving Pokemon Go open on my desk since I live next to a PokeStop definitely wouldn’t help matters. But the reality is that the Pixel 5 continued to have at least 20% of battery when it was time to go to bed. It didn’t matter whether bedtime was around midnight or 3am, there was not a single night over the past week where I felt the need to recharge my Pixel to get me through the rest of the day.
The grass is not greener on the other side
Over the weekend, I switched back over to the S21 Ultra, and over the past two days, I’ve been seeing battery drainage, even if the phone was not actively being used. I’m not sure what’s going on with the Ultra, but I’ve been seeing about 5% remaining when my head hits the pillow at night. And before you ask, the resolution is turned down to FHD+ while Adaptive Smoothness and Adaptive Brightness enabled.
Of course, the SD888 chipset is much more power-hungry than that of the Pixel 5, but this phone also is priced $400 higher than the Pixel 5 and it doesn’t even hold a candle to Google’s 2020 flagship. It’s gotten to the point that I’m going to try and stick it out with the S21 Ultra for a little bit longer, but the Pixel 5 continues to stare at me with its Sorta Sage-goodness, promising to last all day, and then some.
Don’t install Android 12 quite yet
We’re not sitting here telling you that you should go and install the Android 12 Developer Preview, but it’s getting close. Of course, the next Preview version could throw a wrench in all of this, but there’s already been a bug fix released and that hasn’t caused any performance or battery drain with the Pixel 5.
It’s entirely possible that this is just a placebo effect from switching to stock Android, but even the standby time on Android 12 has been insane. There are a lot of things that could change between now and the first public beta release for Android 12. Notably, we’re still waiting to see if Google will enable the Silky Home interface change, along with some of the other one-handed features that are still hidden behind ADB commands.
But for the time being, the Pixel 5 on Android 12 has been an absolute dream to use.