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Since the Google Pixel 4a was launched in early August 2020, its successor – the Google Pixel 5a – may not be here for a while. Then again, there’s growing evidence that it could land as soon as May. In any case, we’re excited for the next affordable Pixel phone, and we’ve now heard some official and unofficial news around the upcoming handset.
The Pixel 4a was quickly followed up by the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5, rounding off the company’s contingent of 2020 smartphones. But now that the dust has settled, we have to ask: what’s coming in the Google Pixel 5a, the rumored affordable take on the Pixel 5?
The Pixel 4a followed the Google Pixel 4, and so we might get some clues on what the Pixel 5a will bring from the Pixel 5 – which was in some ways a step back in terms of features, offering users a more affordable flagship option.
We can also look at what the Pixel 4a didn’t incorporate and list which features we would be truly excited to see in its successor. Read on for what we’ve already heard, along with what we want to see in the Pixel 5a.
It looks as though Google has inadvertently let the first Pixel 5a camera sample image slip out on one of its own blogs, giving us some idea of the sort of photo quality to expect.
Google Pixel 5a price and release date
- What is the Google Pixel 5a? The next mid-range Google smartphone
- When will the Google Pixel 5a come out? Probably May
- How much will the Google Pixel 5a cost? At or above $349 / £349 / AU$599
The Google Pixel 5a release date hasn’t been announced, but the Google IO 2021 dates have, and it’s likely that the Pixel 5a will be in attendance.
Google IO 2021 will run from May 18-20, as an online-only event, so those dates are our best guess for the launch window of the Google Pixel 5a.
That said, there’s still no guarantee: one earlier leak says the Google Pixel 5a will launch on June 11. Plus, the Google Pixel 4a wasn’t announced until August 2020. That was later than expected, and was probably a delay caused by the pandemic, but even so, it’s possible that the Pixel 5a would land in or around August of 2021 to leave a year’s gap between them.
It’s also unclear if the Pixel 5a will have a global launch – after rumors that it was cancelled outright started cropping up, Google confirmed that the Pixel 5a 5G is coming to US and Japan, but didn’t go into detail about worldwide availability (or whether there would be a 4G LTE version of the Pixel 5a).
As for the price, the Google Pixel 3a, the first mid-range phone in the series, was released at $399 / £399 / AU$649. The Pixel 4a went even lower, costing $349 / £349 / AU$599 at launch. While the cost could go higher – especially if 5G is included – we wouldn’t expect it to drop any lower. But we have been wrong before…
Here are the Pixel 4a prices in your region:
- What we know so far about the Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 5a news and rumors
The first rumor we heard…is that the Google Pixel 5a exists. Really! A supposedly official document listed the Pixel 5a by name, along with codenames for what we expect are future Pixel phones – including the Google Pixel 6 and 6 XL, as well as what could be the rumored Google foldable phone.
We’ve seen a second info-dump, but it tells us of even fewer new features than the first rumors. According to renders and feature leaks, the Google Pixel 5a will be near-identical to the Pixel 4a 5G with the same design, screen specs and cameras. Google likely wouldn’t put out the same phone twice though, so presumably there’s more we have to learn.
For one thing, it might have a new chipset. More specifically it might have the Snapdragon 780G chipset that’s made its debut in the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G. This is the successor to the Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 4a 5G, and it offers up to a 40% CPU performance uplift, plus improved photography, among other things.
That said, more recent reports point to the Pixel 5a using the same Snapdragon 765G processor we saw in the Pixel 4a 5G and indeed the Pixel 5. We know there’s a shortage of chips around the world at the moment, so this might be Google’s way of ensuring supply while also guaranteeing decent levels of performance.
We’ve already mentioned the brouhaha over whether the Google Pixel 5a is cancelled or not: some sources said it had, but Google stepped in to say that it hadn’t. At least, not in the US and Japan.
We got a very brief look at the sort of photo quality to expect from the Pixel 5a when a camera sample was very briefly posted to a Google blog before being taken down again. It revealed that one of the rear camera lenses on the phone will be an ultrawide f/2.2 lens.
Google Pixel 5a what we want to see
We’re still enamored with the Pixel 4a, but even more eager to speculate how it could be improved in the next affordable Pixel phone.
1. More rear cameras
We’ve wanted more rear cameras on the entire Pixel line for years, and were hoping the Pixel 4a would inherit the telephoto lens of the Pixel 4. Since that didn’t happen, our hopes shift to the Pixel 5a, which we’d love to see with a zoom and ultrawide lens (and heck, why not a macro while we’re at it).
2. 5G connectivity standard
While the Pixel 4a 5G will define how viable the mid-range 5G phone is in a market that seems happy enough with 4G LTE cheap phones, we’d love to see the Pixel 5a pack 5G as a standard feature. This might be dependent on whether 2021 phones that connect to the advanced networks come any cheaper, given the price hike that this year’s 5G-capable phones experienced, but even an affordable 5G phone would be a stellar option.
3. Better battery life
The Pixel 4a didn’t quite suffer the Pixel 4’s abysmal battery life, but it wasn’t spectacular, either, often with single-digit capacity left at the end of a single day. Given many budget phones have 4,000mAh batteries or larger, we’d love to have the mid-range Pixel 5a last as long as the competition.
4. Metal and glass body
Yes, the mid-range line has had a polycarbonate plastic body since it debuted in the Pixel 3a – but it’s the biggest budget compromise on a device with incredible software and a reliable camera. We’d love to see the Pixel 5a step up its game, especially since other equally-priced phones like the iPhone SE 2020 with glass backs and metal frames.
5. A micro SD slot
Google. Please. If you’re not going to ship your Pixel 4a with more than 128GB of storage, at least let us expand it on our own. Here’s hoping that’s amended in the Pixel 5a.
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