Google owns the most popular mobile operating system in the world, but it’s still somehow unable to make smartphones that people line up to buy. The Nexus and Pixel phones have hardly been best-selling devices despite Google’s significant progress over the years. But just because Google can’t come up with an iPhone or Galaxy S equivalent that the masses want doesn’t mean it can afford to stop making high-end Pixel handsets.

Google phones are the only way the company can express its true vision for Android. With every new Android release, it’s Pixel phones that show the world what the new OS version is all about, and they’re the only phones that receive every update the moment it becomes available. Without a Pixel handset, Google would be stuck waiting for vendors to update their devices to the newest version of Android whenever they can manage it, and risk Android trailing iOS even more when it comes to adoption of the latest OS version. With that in mind, you’re certainly not going to appreciate this new Pixel 5 rumor, especially if you’re a loyal user of the series.

Days after we saw the first Pixel 5 render, a Google engineer confirmed the Pixel 5 name over on the AOSP. That mistake has been remedied since the Pixel 5 product name has been removed for the thread, as 9to5Google reported soon after first noticing the Pixel 5 mention.

The blog also had this to say about Pixel phone development:

Last month, three potential Google Pixel codenames surfaced, along with the mid-range Qualcomm processors those codenamed devices would run on. We currently believe one of those three, Sunfish, will be a mid-range successor to the Pixel 3a, branded as the ‘Google Pixel 4a.’

Meanwhile, we think the other two, Redfin and Bramble, could be the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL codenames, which would make the Pixel 5 series less-than-flagship. Interestingly enough, Bramble has been spotted using the same Linux kernel version, 4.19, as listed for the ‘Pixel 5’ above. This alone isn’t quite enough to confirm that Bramble is indeed the Pixel 5, but it does make the case stronger.

Indeed, Sunfish, Redfin, and Bramble are three codenames that were detailed in a pair of reports. One report said the Sunfish is a Snapdragon 730-based Pixel 4a phone, while the Redfin is expected to be a different Pixel 4a model with a Snapdragon 765 processor and 5G support. Bramble, the report said, is also a 765 device, but it’s only a development board. A second story revealed the same three codenames and concluded that Sunfish and Bramble are the likely codenames of the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL. It also said that the XL version will support 5G connectivity.

All of this puts 9to5Google’s claims in a better perspective. If this new report is accurate and Redfin and Bramble are Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL codenames, then these might be the first next-gen Google phones that don’t offer the best possible hardware. It’s one thing for Google to launch mid-range phones and pretend they can be iPhone replacements after the same-generation flagship hit stores, and quite another to skip flagships altogether.

It’s always possible that the Pixel 5 generation will come in different versions, including mid-range phones and separate flagships. Maybe the codenames for the high-end Pixel 5 flavors haven’t leaked yet. But given that so many Pixel rumors turned out to be right so far, it would be incredibly disappointing for Google to somehow ditch high-end Pixel phones entirely after bailing on the Nexus lineup all those years ago.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.