Google doesn’t make phones like any other Android OEM and the Pixel 5 is threatening to be the most unique and potentially divisive handset from the search giant to date.
We’re still some ways out from the expected Pixel 5 release date which will likely slot into the calendar in the series’ usual October launch window. However, there are already rumors circulating that the Pixel 5 may not be the flagship phone you might be expecting to see.
After the mixed bag that was the Google Pixel 4, there are plenty of areas the Pixel 5 could improve on the Pixel formula. With this and those fascinating rumors in mind, here are five things we want to see from the Google Pixel 5.
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Ultra wide-angle camera
I’m willing to bet an ultra wide-angle camera is on every Pixel fan’s wishlist for the fifth-generation phone.
Google’s decision to stick with a dual-lens camera on the Pixel 4 when essentially every other OEM (even Apple!) had shifted to a triple-lens shooter was a massive head-scratcher. After all, zoom is great, but when you’re buying a flagship phone you shouldn’t have to choose in the first place.
While we’re talking cameras, can we also extend that zoom beyond just 2x optical? Super Res Zoom is impressive, but if the Pixel 5 is going to compete with the best we’d like to see the optical zoom stretch to at least 3x.
128GB storage as standard
At the last count, Google managed to snag the dubious honor of being the worst OEM when it comes to price gouging over smartphone storage.
While we’d also like to see the price difference between configurations reduced from the current $100 hike, the core issue is that 64GB base model. Just get rid of it.
128GB is the standard storage capacity for basically every Android flagship and the Pixel 5 should be no different. 64GB isn’t enough. 256GB is potentially overkill if you use cloud storage. 128GB is just right.
Better battery life
You might be thinking this should say “a bigger battery,” but having a large cell packed into a phone doesn’t tell the whole story.
Unfortunately, while many OEMs are pushing their custom hardware and software to achieve greater power efficiency and reduce battery drain, Google has been more interested in expanding its phones’ feature sets with AI smarts. That’s a noble goal and one I’d like to see continue, but not at the cost of atrocious battery life like the vanilla Pixel 4.
It's not all about having a bigger battery... but that'd be welcome too.
Thankfully, there are positive signs. Android 11, which the Pixel 5 will almost definitely run out of the box, is rumored to feature an ultra low power mode for eking out extra juice when your battery is about to die.
Hopefully that’s just the start and Google will fine-tune its hardware and software package to give us a phone that doesn’t hit zero well before bedtime. And hey, if that means we need a bigger battery too, then that’s just fine too.
Motion Sense… but better this time
I really wanted to like Motion Sense. It’s the kind of quirky extra feature that makes phones fun and not just another bland handset that doesn’t take any risks.
There was just one problem: it kind of didn’t work.
Google has improved things with software updates, but the Soli tech in the Pixel 4 is still woefully underused and many of the gestures are awkward and often don’t register.
Instead of scrapping it, however, it’d be great to see Google double down on Motion Sense and make it an essential part of the Pixel experience like we’ve seen with Edge Sense.
More gestures, improved accuracy, and greater app compatibility would all make for Soli-d upgrades.
Something special to balance out that mid-range processor
Here it is, the elephant in the room: the Pixel 5 will reportedly run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset as opposed to the Snapdragon 865 that powers the vast majority of Android flagships in 2020.
We already have an article discussing the merits of Google opting for a mid-range SoC instead of Qualcomm’s top-tier silicon, as well as some of the potential reasoning (tl;dr: it’s much cheaper). In addition, we’ve tested the Snapdragon 765G to see how it might stack up for the Pixel 5. It’s also worth noting that both chipsets are 5G enabled, so that’s not an issue.
The harsh reality is that a Pixel 5 with a 765G processor won’t have the raw power to match its rivals. However, that may not be a problem if Google has something extra up its sleeve.
The Pixel 4 series already has the Pixel Neural Core which enables features like Night Sight, the new Google Assistant, the Recorder app, as well as boosting its imaging capabilities to push its camera — the Pixel series’ key selling point — beyond its hardware limitations with computational photography.
The Snapdragon 765G is already a more than capable chipset that near-enough matches the Snapdragon 855 already found in the Pixel 4, albeit with an inferior GPU. By improving the Pixel Neural Core, Google could close the gap with Qualcomm’s best in terms of AI performance while also still being cheaper to build and more power-efficient overall.
If a more affordable Pixel 5 can close the AI gap while also delivering killer battery life and a bunch of exciting, unique software features, would you really care if it wasn’t winning any benchmark races?
That’s my Pixel 5 wishlist. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments and be sure to check out some of our other Google Pixel content below: