The Google Pixel 5 could prove to be the most important smartphone that Google has released to date based on the rumors that it may represent a change of direction for the Pixel series of smartphones.
The Pixel has come to be known primarily for its first-class photography experience, which is due in large part to Google’s computational photography rather than the hardware itself.
With the release of the Pixel 3a last year and the Pixel 4a this year, Google has proven its camera-making abilities thoroughly as these devices, which launched at $399 and $349, respectively, have both been widely praised for the fantastic camera performance, beating virtually anything else at their price point.
If the rumors are true, the company may be taking those lessons and applying them to the Pixel 5 as well, moving away from the high-end flagship market entirely and, instead, offering a nearly flagship experience with a combination of fantastic software and hardware that is good enough while costing hundreds less than the competition.
Here’s a look at everything that we know so far about the Pixel 5 from its release date and price to specs, design, camera, software and more.
Google Pixel 5 release date
Google will reveal the Pixel 5 alongside the Pixel 4a 5G at its “Launch Night In” virtual event on September 30 that will be live-streamed on YouTube starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time (11 a.m. Pacific).
According to the most recent rumors from reliable leaker Jon Prosser the phones will go up for pre-order later that day, but the shipping date for the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G could be quite different.
Pixel 5 5G(Just Black & Subtle Sage)- Preorder: Sep 30- Launch: October 15They made an oopsie with the 4a 😂👇Pixel 4a 5G (Just Black)- Preorder: Sep 30- Launch: Nov 19Pixel 4a 5G (Clearly White)- Delayed to 2021 😂(Will most likely be canceled altogether) pic.twitter.com/Qh4L0TZ3RySeptember 25, 2020
The Pixel 5 will start shipping first according to Prosser on October 15 in its Just Black and Subtle Sage color options. The Pixel 4a 5G on the other hand won’t make it into consumers hands until November 19 for the Just Black version and sometime in 2021 for the Clearly White if it arrives at all.
Google Pixel 5 price
Pricing is going to be one of the more interesting stories with the Pixel 5 as Google moves it into a more upper mid-range smartphone rather than a true flagship, like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or iPhone 11.
While high-end smartphone fans may grumble at this move, we should see a price reduction from the $799 and $899 price points for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, and in a year when every other flagship has had its price increase that’s not a bad thing.
A Google survey allegedly captured by a Reddit user back in June asked users about two Google Pixel Phones with a brief description of each, including the starting price. The “Google Pixel Phone” that was listed is the Pixel 4a and both the description and $349 price proved to be dead on. A $699 price was listed for a “Premium Google Pixel Phone” and subsequent rumors and an accidental price leak from Google Japan have all pointed to this being accurate as well.
OFFICIAL – Pixel 5 Costs ¥74,800 in Japan pic.twitter.com/JQFYvA0BAUSeptember 26, 2020
Google Pixel 5 specs
The processor is likely going to be the Pixel 5 spec that gets the most attention as it will reportedly be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or 865+ found in the flagship smartphones from Samsung and most other Android manufacturers this year.
While multiple rumors have pointed to this over the last several months, evidence found in the code of the Google Camera app by the team at 9to5Google gave the final confirmation. In this leak, the Pixel 5 was matched with the codename “Bramble,” which had previously been identified in Google code as a device that would be using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset.
There is no arguing that this will put the Pixel 5 behind the rest of the 2020 flagships in terms of raw processing power. The Snapdragon 765G is closer to the Snapdragon 845 of 2018 in terms of benchmark performance, but the chipset does have a number of advantages beyond the cost savings. It features built-in 5G support for both sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies just like the Snapdragon 865 (although with slightly lower top speeds). Power efficiency is another hallmark of the 765G and its 7nm process, which has historically been an issue for the Pixel line.
RAM has also often been a shortcoming for Pixels, but it appears that Google won’t be skimping there this year as a recent leak showed that the Pixel 5 should feature 8GB of RAM, up from 6GB in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. That’s the same amount of RAM found in the $999 Galaxy Note 20, so it should be plenty for the Pixel 5.
Google Pixel 5 Appears On AI Benchmark With Snapdragon 765G & 8GB Of Ram pic.twitter.com/13FFmWR8lGAugust 10, 2020
While there was some concern that Google could repeat its frustrating base 64GB of storage again with the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a has essentially eliminated those concerns. The Pixel 4a has launched with 128GB of storage and there is no chance that Google’s premium smartphone launches with less.
Google Pixel 5 design
Google had been holding tough on design leaks until relatively late in the game, but over the past month, we have seen a number of credible leaks that show off the design of the Pixel 5 in both its Just Black and Subtle Sage colors. The image above includes the Pixel 5 on the left and the larger Pixel 4a 5G on the right.
The design could be a bit polarizing as it is definitely a step forward and a step back in some ways. The bezels are certainly reduced from previous models and the significant notch is gone from the front of the device in favor of an in-display hole-punch front-facing camera in the upper-left corner.
The rear camera module appears virtually identical to the Pixel 4 in regards to placement and sensors with the exception of the flash and time of flight sensor. In the images, the camera module does seem to be slightly more pronounced than on the Pixel 4, with leaks claiming the phone is 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches, which would be appropriate as the Pixel 4 was 5.8 x 2.7 x 0.32 inches.
Unlike the Pixel 4a, there is no return of the headphone jack seen here; the USB Type-C port is the lone opening in the Pixel 5 and we know from the previously mentioned Google survey that it will be water-resistant and support wireless charging.
Google Pixel 5 cameras
The Pixel line has been synonymous with a fantastic photo experience since it first launched in 2016, but this has been attributed to Google’s unsurpassed computational photography skills rather than the actual hardware in its smartphones. This was very much on display last year as the Pixel 4 included only a standard and telephoto lens rather than the more common triple-camera array that adds a wide or ultra-wide-angle sensor to that lineup.
While some other manufacturers have moved on to four camera arrays now, Google is expected to stick to simply two lenses and possibly move from telephoto to ultrawide with the second lens.
Other specifics regarding the hardware are still a mystery, but we do know about the Pixel 5 camera is that a number of new software features are coming; these were included in the Google Camera app update for Android 11 that will launch with the Pixel 5.
A new Motion Blur mode will give action shots a more natural blurred look with fast-moving subjects, like what would be possible with a DSLR. Audio Zoom is something that Samsung has been pushing in its flagships of late. It allows you to focus your microphones on a specific subject or at least in a specific direction when you are recording a video and zoom in. Flash intensity is an interesting addition that lets you dictate how bright your flash is rather than simply on or off. The Pixel’s incredible Night Sight functionality makes this less crucial, but for subjects that can’t or won’t stay still, a flash is still a crucial tool for low-light photography.
One final addition is a faster and simpler video share feature that would function much like the current photo sharing with the option to quickly share a video directly after it is captured to one of about 25 different social media or messaging services.
Google Pixel 5 display
The display is another area where there is some disagreement among leakers. Everyone agrees that it will be an OLED display and, if Google has indeed opted for the Snapdragon 765G rather than the standard 765, it will be able to support a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Then again, 90Hz to match the performance of the Pixel 4 is probably more likely.
Display size has varied between 5.8 and 6 inches, which would be just a bit larger than last year’s Pixel 4, although they suggest that it would be QHD like the Pixel 4 XL rather than the FHD resolution of the Pixel 4.
Google Pixel 5 software
Android 11 became publicly available on September 9 and will be pre-installed on the Pixel 5 when it ships.
Some of the highlights for Android 11 include a host of new messaging related features like chat bubbles to give you easier access to ongoing chats and a new Conversations category for notifications that will automatically be at the top of your Notification Shade with the ability to prioritize specific conversations to take the top spot.
Speaking of the Notification Shade, it is getting a visual makeover that is meant to help make it more visually distinct from the Quick Settings panel. For those who need to capture their own screens, a new screenshot UI and native screen recording are both coming in Android 11 as well.
Permissions have been a big issue in recent years with many apps seeming to overreach with how much information they need about users and how often. In Android 11, a new feature will let you grant an app permission for “only this time” if you don’t want it to have constant access or even access every time you open it.
There’s, of course, much more to come in Android 11, but that’s a quick look at some of the new features that we expect with the Pixel 5. As for Pixel 5-specific features, those are less certain. If the rumors that the Pixel 5 will eliminate the Soli sensor are true, that would do away with one of the only unique features of the Pixel 4.I suspect most won’t be sorry to see it go as it fell short of expectations.
Google Pixel 5 outlook
It seems clear that Google is taking a gamble with the Pixel 5 this year. The move away from a true flagship is not really something we have seen a prominent manufacturer do. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE is taking a swing at this same market, but Samsung is hardly giving up on its higher end models.
Despite the competition, Google could be uniquely positioned to make this work. The Pixel line has never really managed to go toe-to-toe with the competition when it came to specs anyway and it was more of a triumph of software that even made it close. This move to a Snapdragon 765G basically concedes that point while still delivering 5G and what should be solid performance for daily use and some gaming.
The question is whether Google has made the right cuts and if it can deliver 90% of the $999+ flagship experience but at $699. If it can, particularly in our current economic conditions, it may be able to carve out a solid niche for itself.