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New Pixel 5 leak suggests Google is about to make a huge mistake

Published Mar 16th, 2020 4:34PM EDT
Pixel 5 Release Date
Image: Zach Epstein for BGR
  • The Pixel 5 is supposed to be Google’s alternative to the iPhone 12 this year, but a disturbing rumor says the new device might not offer buyers access to true high-end hardware.
  • A new leak says the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL will both be powered by an inferior Qualcomm CPU which won’t be as fast as the Snapdragon 865 found in the Galaxy S20 and other Android flagships.
  • There’s no indication that Google is developing a third Pixel 5 with hardware matching the best Android handsets currently available.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Google struggles to sell Pixel phones, yet the handset is critical for Android’s success. No matter how well they sell, the Pixel phones have a clear role for Google, one they inherited from the Nexus line. They’re the perfect vessel to carry Google’s vision of Android. They’re the first devices to run Android out of the box and the first to get the new releases, starting from the early beta versions made available to developers each spring.

Without Pixels, regular users will have to wait several months to get their handsets updated, and Google would have no choice but to rely on its partners when it comes to showing off the new capabilities of Android. With all that in mind, Google has no choice but to continue making Pixel phones going forward. And Google’s hardware has to be able to compete directly against the latest iPhone, Galaxy S, and Huawei flagships — at least on paper. But, with the Pixel 5, Google is seemingly about to make a huge mistake.

It was about a month ago that we talked about the most disturbing Pixel 5 rumor so far — and probably the most worrisome Pixel rumor ever. The Pixel 5 would be a mid-range phone, that rumor said, packing a mid-range Qualcomm processor rather than the Snapdragon 865 that powers the Galaxy S20 and other high-end Android handsets.

There’s one other leak, also from 9to5Google, that seems to confirm that the Pixel 5 will not be the flagship we all expect it to be. A pre-release version of the Google Camera app mentions two internal Google codenames that have been associated with the Pixel 5. Bramble and Redfin are supposed to be next-gen Pixel devices, and they both appear to be based on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 765G processor:

Now that the Google Camera app has confirmed that Redfin and Bramble are Google’s main series Pixel phones for 2020, we can now say with relative confidence that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL will use the Snapdragon 765G as its base SoC. This breaks from the tradition of Pixels past which all used that year’s flagship chip from Qualcomm.

The same Google Camera code also listed details about the upcoming Pixel 4a, which is going to be a mid-range device. So the Redfin and Bramble codenames above aren’t tied to the forthcoming Pixel 4a series.

This detail is incredibly disturbing if accurate, and there’s really no reason to distrust Pixel rumors. After all, most Pixel leaks do come true. Ideally, Google would pair a mid-range Pixel 5 with an expensive high-end version, but there’s no trace of a Snapdragon 865-based Pixel 5 for the time being.

A brand new iPhone 12 leak, meanwhile, suggests the new A14 chip that will power this year’s iOS devices will be significantly faster than the A13 inside the iPhone 11. That’s terrible news for Android device makers, but especially for Google, if this Pixel 5 leak is accurate.

The Pixel 5 line will not hit stores earlier than October, assuming the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t ruin Google’s launch plans. This gives us plenty of time to learn more details about Google’s smartphone plans for 2020. The Pixel 4a, meanwhile, is expected to drop in May at I/O 2020, soon after which it will arrive in stores.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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