Google is under pressure to ensure its 2020 smartphones are a hit. The mid-range Pixel 3a has arguably been the highlight of the Pixel lineup to date, with the flagships sporting various inconsistencies that make them hard to recommend.
For example, the Pixel 4 is an excellent phone that has been blighted by poor battery life and an uninspiring design.
Google is in a unique position as the developer of Android, making it the only company that can truly rival Apple for synergy between hardware and software. But for too long its phones haven’t been able to compete, making it hard to justify buying a Google device.
While we don’t know much just yet, Google is set to go big as it tries to catch up with the likes of Samsung and Apple in producing a killer flagship phone for 2020.
When is the Google Pixel 5 coming out?
In line with previous releases, we’re expecting the Pixel 5 and 5 XL to be available at some point in October 2020.
The Pixel 4 series was unveiled on 15 October 2019, and went on general sale nine days later. A similar time frame is anticipated for the next Pixel flagships.
How much will the Google Pixel 5 cost?
The Pixel 4 started at £669, while you had to jump up to at least £829 for the Pixel 4 XL. We’d expect pricing to be fairly similar, undercutting the most expensive flagships but very much out of the mid-range bracket.
What are we expecting to see in the Google Pixel 5?
While many people would assume that the Pixel 5 will come with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor, that might not be the case.
9to5Google has been exploring some unreleased code in the camera app. This suggests the Pixel 5 and 5 XL will come with a Snapdragon 765G, as opposed to the 865 we were all expecting. This processor is designed to support 5G, implying we’ll get that feature, but lacks the blazing speed of the 865. Make of that what you will.
We’ve already got an idea of what Google’s next flagship might look like, too. Jon Prosser at Front Page Tech is claiming that this is the first official prototype of the Pixel 5 XL:
— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks)
February 14, 2020
This would serve as a huge design change from the Pixel 4 and 4 XL (or any previous Pixel for that matter), with what looks like a raised camera module in a more central position along the top edge of the phone’s back. The arrangement of the triple cameras may invite ridicule due to its likeness to a shocked face but it will at least help the device to stand out in a world where so many smartphones look so similar.
The other clear observation is the addition of a third camera lens. We really hope this to be a wide-angle, which Google left out in favour of telephoto on last year’s phones.
What might not be kept from the Pixel 4 is Motion Sense, which was made possible by the Soli motion-sensing radar. It allowed users to interact with the phone with gestures but looks like Google will ditch this feature for the Pixel 5 due to it not working well and users disliking it, according to a 9to5Google podcast.
If true, the Pixel 5 will also lose 3D Face Unlock, which relied on Soli to work. It’s thought the phone will still have some sort of face unlock but will use a different method.
We still expect the Pixel 5 to borrow a few design influences from the Pixel 4a, which is due in May 2020. This unique back of the phone would be an easy way to tell the models apart on first glance.
It’ll be interesting to see what Google does with the Pixel 5’s camera setup, considering the person responsible for the excellent pictures Pixel phones have been taking up until now, left the company in March 2020; not long after another senior member of the Pixel team, general manager – Mario Queiroz, also walked.
The cameras would still be among the best in the business, even if Google made no changes to the setup, but expect it to be a priority once again. Don’t expect crazy specs such as the 108Mp sensor used on Xiaomi and (later) Samsung phones, Google instead relies on its software processing to produce great stills.
We doubt Google will come up with a unique solution for its front-facing sensor, but expect a hole-punch camera as opposed to a notch, particularly as the latter proved so unpopular on the Pixel 3 XL.
The battery life was the main reason we couldn’t recommend the Pixel 4 in our review, so improvements here must be imminent too.
Our Google Pixel 5 wishlist
While there has been no confirmation that any of these features will be making their way to the Pixel 5, we’d love to see them on Google’s next flagship:
- More modern design – There was nothing wrong with the Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s design per se, but they seemed out of place in a market where manufacturers are constantly pushing the limits of their devices. Google appears to have overestimated people’s desire for a display free of cut-outs and notches, so its approach will surely have to change.
- Improved video capture – Pixel devices have always had superb cameras for taking stills, but its video remains below par. Improving this would make for a more complete camera experience.
- Support for expandable storage – The Pixel 4 and 4 XL start with 64GB of storage and although we’d like a boost here that was perfectly acceptable for 2019. What’s more disappointing, however, is the lack of expandandable storage, which would allow users to add more storage as and when they needed it.
- More RAM – Like Apple, Google will claim it doesn’t need as much RAM as other manufacturers as it is able to control both the hardware and software side, but 6GB of RAM is the only option on the Pixel 4 series. We’d like to see the option for 8 or even 12GB of RAM.
- Wide-angle front and rear cameras – Google strangely chose a telephoto over a wide-angle for the second lens on the back of the Pixel 4, but we hope it adds a third, wide-angle sensor in 2020. All the software in the world won’t help when your field of view is just 77°
- Bigger battery – The paltry 2800mAh cell on the Pixel 4 just didn’t cut it, with truly awful battery life for the price. We’d hope to see a big boost here, especially with some handsets having almost double that capacity nowadays.
- 5G support – This is by no means necessary for most people, but Google will probably need to release a 5G-enabled phone if it wants to keep up with other 2020 flagships.
We’ll update this article as and when we here more on how the Pixel 5 is shaping up. In the meantime, check out all the latest on the Pixel 4a.
Read next: Best New Phones Coming in 2020
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