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Rumor: Pixel 5 won't be the flagship you're expecting

Rumor has it the Pixel 5 will be less powerful than the Pixel 4. And that might just be a good thing.

Published onMarch 14, 2020

google pixel 4 vs pixel 3 vs pixel 3a 11

Leaks are still just starting to trickle on Google’s upcoming mid-range Pixel 4a devices, but a bit of sleuthing by the folks at 9to5Google may have revealed the first few precious details about the Google Pixel 5.

And if those details are accurate, the Pixel 5 may not be what anyone was expecting.

Without getting too deep into the methodology, the rumors come from detailed analysis of a pre-release version of the Google Camera app. The app’s codebase contains hints about what’s to come in future hardware, including the Pixel 5.

The first revelation is that the Pixel 5 lineup will likely have a telephoto lens, which isn’t surprising considering the feature was also present on last year’s Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

More surprising was the processor codenames tied to the presumed Pixel 5 configuration file. According to 9to5Google, Evidence suggests that these codenames (“Bramble” and “Redfin”) refer to Qualcomm’s recently released mid-range Snapdragon 765G chip, and not the more powerful Snapdragon 865 found in other 2020 flagships like the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

If this turns out to be true, the Google Pixel 5 lineup will be even less powerful than the Pixel 4. It would, however, come with 5G support out of the box.

Read also: The industry sees 5G as a cash cow. That could backfire.

At this point it’s worth pointing out that we are still more than six months away from the release of these devices, so these rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, there is some logic behind the decision to switch to a less powerful processor.

Why dropping a flagship chip might make sense

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in hand front

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor is its most powerful to date, but it’s also the most expensive by some margin. Flagships prices have ballooned as a result, with smartphones like the OPPO Find X2 Pro and Galaxy S20 Ultra coming in at well over $1300.

The cost of current flagship processors (and prices remaining steady for last year’s Snapdragon 855 and 855 Plus) are also what prevented a true POCOphone F1 successor. Switching to a cheaper chip could keep the Pixel 5 price well under $1000.

Switching to a mid-range processor would keep the Pixel 5 price low and improve battery life.

Another big benefit of mid-range processors over their more powerful counterparts is power efficiency. Battery life has always been the Achilles heel of Pixel devices, and switching to a less power-hungry chipset could extend screen-on time without having to add a bulkier battery (which Google still refuses to do for some reason).

A 'mid-range' Pixel 5 actually makes total sense
google pixel 4 xl oh so orange google logo 2

The relative success of the Pixel 3a could also have prompted a change in strategy for Google’s hardware division. Instead of adding gimmicks like Motion Sense, it can provide a great smartphone experience by delivering on the basics: camera, software, and battery life.

What do you make of the latest Pixel 5 rumor? Is cheaper the way to go or are you still hoping for a Pixel Ultra?

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