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The Pixel 5 features tech you won’t see on any iPhone

Updated Oct 5th, 2020 7:39AM EDT
Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12
Image: Google

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  • Pixel 5 has many downsides for a phone that should have been Google’s best answer to the iPhone.
  • The handset features a few compromises that allowed Google to keep the price down, including the mid-range processor and aluminum design.
  • But the Pixel 5 does have a feature the iPhone lacks, and that’s a top speaker placed under the screen.

The Pixel 5 is somewhat of a disappointment this year, given the various compromises Google made for its flagship phone. The handset features a mid-range processor, a strange plastic and metal rear panel, and doesn’t ship with the Pixel 4’s sophisticated 3D face recognition system. It’s also still fairly expensive at $699, a price point that makes the Pixel 4a 5G a lot more attractive. What makes the Pixel 5 one of the best mid-range Android phones you can buy is the camera experience and the promise of three years of fast Android updates. But the handset is hardly the kind of iPhone rival you’d expect from Google. It’s not just the iPhone 12 that the Pixel 5 can really compete against. The iPhone 11 and even the iPhone SE will be faster than the new Google handset. But the Pixel 5 does feature a piece of tech that’s not available on the iPhone for the time being.

Google published support documentation for the Pixel 5 you might not even need right now, considering that the phone will start shipping to buyers who preorder it only in the coming weeks. But the document does reveal the schematics of the phone, indicating the location of the top speaker and microphone.

The Pixel 5 certainly has a much better design than the Pixel 4. While sophisticated, the Soli radar system was overkill for the 3D face recognition system. Google was hardly able to come up with any must-have radar features for the handset. And the components for Soli and the 3D camera forced Google to give the Pixel 4 incredibly ugly top bezels.

Pixel 5 Diagram
Pixel 5 Diagram shows the location of the top speaker (4). Image source: Google

The new all-screen design gives the Pixel 5 the same design available elsewhere on Android. The front panel is almost entirely screen, aside from the hole-punch camera and slightly bigger bezels on the bottom. This is where the exciting Pixel 5 feature comes in. As you can see in the image above, the top speaker is placed under the display, which extends from edge to edge.

That’s not a feature unique to the Pixel 5 series, as other Android phones offered the same tech. LG introduced its own Crystal Sound OLED display with the LG G8, which turned the entire panel into a speaker. It’s unclear whether the Pixel 5 technology works similarly, but it’s one innovation the iPhone doesn’t have.

Apple doesn’t need to turn its iPhone displays into speakers right now, as then notch has enough room for that necessary top speaker. And the iPhone 12 will feature the same screen design as the iPhone 12, top notch included. But once Apple goes true all-screen with the iPhone, the speaker will have to be placed under the screen, just like the selfie camera.

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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