Google Pixel 5: Release date, rumours, specs and leaks

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Google’s next flagship smartphone is still a little way off but that doesn’t mean the leaks and rumours haven’t started to appear, offering some indication as to what we can expect.

The mid-range Pixel 4a is due to be announced first – though it’s currently AWOL – but here is everything we have heard so far about the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL, thought to be codenamed Redfin and Bramble. 

Release date and price

  • October 2020 announcement
  • Likely to be cheaper than Pixel 4 models

All the previous Pixel models have been revealed at the October Made by Google event, so we’d expect that to also be the case for the Pixel 5. As that’s some months away, there’s currently no clue as to the actual date of that event.

In terms of price, the Pixel 4 starts at £669 or $799, while the Pixel 4 XL starts at £829 or $899. Rumours are suggesting there’s going to be a slight shift in strategy that sees the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL coming in a little more affordable than previous models.

Pixel 5 design

  • Different camera housing
  • Matt glass rear

There haven’t been a huge number of leaks regarding the design of the Pixel 5 as yet, but that’s likely to change over the next couple of months – so watch this space. Google itself teased snippets of the Pixel 4 months before it was announced so perhaps the same will happen for the Pixel 5.

So far, there has been a leak claiming to be one of three prototypes of the Pixel 5. It was shown on Front Page Tech’s YouTube channel and it shows a triple rear camera in a U-shaped housing in the centre at the top of the device. The flash sits in the middle of the three lenses, making it look like a face. 

Front Page Tech does say it is just one of the prototypes for now though so if you aren’t a fan, there’s a chance it won’t happen. Apparently the other two prototypes have square rear camera housings like the Pixel 4.

Other details show a coloured power button – a signature Pixel feature – and it’s also claimed the Pixel 5 will have a matt glass finish on the rear like the Pixel 4. We’ve seen concept renders created using this U design camera layout, while some code leaks suggesting reverse wireless charging on the battery appear to show a squared camera – although that might be the Pixel 4a.

In truth, there’s very little indicator as to what the Pixel 5 will look like at the time of writing.

Display 

  • Two sizes?
  • OLED likely
  • Higher refresh rate possible

The Pixel 4 has a 5.7-inch display, while the Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3-inch display. We expect the Pixel 5 to come in two sizes again, as the Pixel line has done since launch, but it is not yet clear if Google will stick with the same sizes for the 2020 devices.

According to Front Page Tech, the front of the Pixel 5 prototype still has a bezel at the top of the display, although there’s rumours that Google will be dropping the Soli radar technology. That might mean there’s less to pack into the top bezel so the Pixel 5 can be a little more competitive with design in this area.

The Pixel 4 devices have a 90Hz refresh rate, OLED panels and HDR support so we’d expect the same for the Pixel 5, if not a step up to 120Hz refresh rate to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S20 range. Whether Google will see that as a priority is unknown.

Pixel 5 cameras 

  • Triple rear camera possible
  • Night Sight 

The Google Pixel 5 could come with three cameras on the rear, matching the likes of the Apple iPhone 11 Pro. According to Front Page Tech, the third lens will be a wide angle lens. What we have seen is confirmation from a pre-release Google Camera app that the Pixel will have telephoto lens, so the zoom we can be pretty certain about. 

What might change, however, is Google’s approach to cameras, with the departure of Marc Levoy, who is often credited with the success of the Pixel cameras. However, as the lead of a team, the departure of one person might not have a huge impact on the direction the camera take – and the camera has been one of the Pixel’s strongest points.

We’d expect Google to continue offering features like Night Sight and the ability to capture the stars, with more improvements and features likely to appear on the Pixel 5.  

Hardware and specs

  • Qualcomm SD765G
  • Reverse wireless charging?

While previous Pixel models have been flagship positioned, there’s rumours that Google might be looking to change the direction slightly. Having seen the success of the mid-range Pixel 3a, Google might be preparing to move the Pixel 5 onto Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G hardware. This hardware integrates 5G, but is much more affordable. 

That might see a drop on the benchmark performance of this phone, but with Google’s emphasis on cloud computing and AI, the real world losses for potential customers might not be that great. Indeed, paired with a more approachable price, we’d not expect any real difference to day-to-day performance against flagship hardware. 

A jump in battery capacity would also be welcomed. The Pixel 4 has a 2800mAh battery, while the Pixel 4 XL has a 3700mAh battery. A report has suggested the Pixel 5 could support reverse wireless charging, allowing it to charge other wireless charging compatible devices, but nothing is confirmed as yet.

In terms of biometrics, the Pixel 4 offered face unlock but no fingerprint sensor. While Soli made for great seamless unlocking on the Pixel, if that’s to be ditched, it will likely revert to an under-display fingerprint sensor.

Google Pixel 5: What’s happened so far?

This is everything that has been speculated about the Google Pixel 5 so far.

11 June 2020: Android 11 is on track

Instead of being revealed at Google I/O or a promised event which was then postponed, Google made Android 11‘s public beta available via press release in June. So expect it to be ready for full release by the end of the summer – and in plenty of time for the release of the Pixel 5 and 5XL.

15 May 2020: Google Pixel 5 might ditch the Soli chip

According to rumours from 9to5Google, the Soli radar chip might be ditched in the forthcoming Pixel 5.

13 May 2020: Pixel team loses key members

Reports from The Information reveal that key members of the Pixel development team have left, including Marc Levoy often credited with developing the camera and Mario Queiroz, general manager, who worked on Pixel from the beginning.

13 May 2020: Google Camera app reveals Pixel plans

Code from an unreleased version of the Google Camera app reveals references to 2020 phones with the codenames Redfin and Bramble, thought to be the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL.

12 May 2020: Concept Pixel 5 design reveals new looks

A concept artist has come up with what the Pixel 5 might look like based on recent rumours and leaks.

19 February 2020: Pixel 5 could support reverse wireless charging 

XDA Developers spotted a hidden Battery Share menu in the first Android 11 Developer Preview for Pixel devices. According to the site, the Battery Share menu page says “your phone’s battery will run out faster when using battery share. Battery share works with compatible ear buds, watches, phones, and more.”

Reverse wireless charging isn’t mentioned directly, nor is the Pixel 5, but the description is pretty much what reverse wireless charging is so it’s not unreasonable to suggest it could be coming to the next Pixel device.

14 February 2020: Render of Pixel 5 XL appears on Twitter

A render of one of three prototypes of the Pixel 5 XL has been shown on Front Page Tech’s YouTube channel showing another camera housing that is likely to divide opinion.

According to presenter Jon Prosser, the prototype has a matte glass finish like the current Pixel 4 and the third lens at the bottom of the housing is claimed to be an ultra-wide angle sensor.

17 January 2020: Google might be working on a mid-range 5G phone

Evidence from leaked code suggests that Google is developing two devices using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765. That would include 5G, but move out of the flagship bracket. The codenames for these devices are Redfin and Bramble and they could be the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL.

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