Google brings Pixel 5 features to older Pixel phones

Pixel phones are also getting Adaptive Sound as part of the lineup's December update.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Google is giving Pixel 3 devices and later models access to features that launched with the Pixel 5 as part of the line’s December update. One of those features is Assistant’s “Hold for Me,” which allows the voice assistant to wait for someone to come on the line if you were put on hold. The tech giant says the feature saves eight minutes per call on average, though it’s only available in English in the US at the moment. Older Pixel phones will now also get access to Extreme Battery Saver mode, which you can toggle on if you want your device to only run the most crucial apps in order to make it last as long as possible.

Adaptive Sound, a feature that debuted with the Pixel Buds that can automatically adjust the volume based on your surroundings, is now on Pixel phones, as well. Google says it can improve the sound quality of the phones’ speakers by using their mic to assess your environmental acoustics and adjusting in-app sound equalizer settings.


If you plan to use Duo to chat with family members this holiday season, take note that screen sharing is now available for group calls on WiFi or 5G. The December update also gives Pixel devices the ability to automatically detect if you’re looking at a website in a different language and translate it using Google Lens. You’ll have new icons, grid views and app shapes to choose from for customization, as well. And if you’ve enabled Now Playing so that your phone can recognize the songs you hear while on commute or walking around, you’ll now be able to export those songs to a playlist in YouTube Music.

Finally, in case you have a Pixel 5 or a Pixel 4a 5G, you’re getting a handful of improvements and features exclusively for those models. Google has made the GPS on those devices more accurate when you’re on foot, though it’s not available for all countries yet.

You’re also getting new context-aware battery features. Adaptive Battery can save more power if you’re likely to miss your usual charging schedule, while Adaptive Charging can help preserve battery health by controlling how quickly your phone charges. There’s also Adaptive Connectivity that can automatically switch between 5G and 4G, based on what app you’re on. It can move you to a 5G connection for movies and downloads, for instance, and then switch you to 4G for activities that don’t require that kind of internet speed.