We’re in the annual summer smartphone slump between the busy spring and fall release windows, but at least we have some leaks to tide us over. If you want to know what the Note 20 will look like, for example, we’ve got a pretty good idea about that. Google’s Pixel phones usually leak in excruciating detail over the summer, and there is a new leak purporting to show off the Pixel 5, However, it looks like a budget phone. This leak does seem suspicious at first glance, but 2020 has been tough on Google’s phone division. Perhaps we’re looking at the Pixel’s last gasp.
These renders come from a relatively unknown leaker, David “XLEAKS7” Kowalski. Like renders we’ve seen from more established members of the community, these are based on CAD files that Kowalski says depict the final Pixel 5 hardware. The device has an edge-to-edge 6.1-inch screen with a hole punch camera in the corner. Around back, there’s a fingerprint sensor and a camera module with two sensors.
The Pixel 5 shouldn’t have those things, though. The Pixel 4 dropped the fingerprint sensor in favor of face unlock, and this device looks a great deal like the still-delayed Pixel 4a. So what’s going on here? There are a few possibilities that may affect your smartphone buying decisions in the coming months.
First, this leak could be entirely false. Admittedly, that was my first instinct. Similarly, this might just be a Pixel 4a XL, which Google reportedly canceled several months ago to focus on the 4a by itself. In either case, this phone would never launch. This is still probably the most likely scenario, but 2020 is unprecedented in a lot of ways. What if the leak is right?
Google’s hardware team is clearly having problems making a successful phone. The last few generations of flagship Pixel phones have been flops, and Google has delayed the 4a for months due to the pandemic and Apple’s competitively priced iPhone SE 2. It’s possible this device was the Pixel 4a XL, but now it’s being rebranded as the Pixel 5 XL. If true, Google could even choose to launch the smaller 4a as the Pixel 5. This might mean the end of “flagship” Pixel phones.
Google has struggled to compete at the high end, but its 2019 budget Pixels were fabulous devices. What if… staring down the barrel of 2020, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh decided to play it safe? Instead of producing cutting edge but ultimately uncompetitive flagship phones, maybe the A-series phones will become the fifth-gen Pixels. If we don’t see more credible information in the next few months, this leak could start looking realistic.
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