Google’s line of mid-range smartphones have been quite the hit in recent years and no sooner has the Pixel 4a arrived than rumours have started about the Pixel 5a.
There’s not much to go on now but 9to5Google has acquired a document that appears to confirm the existence of the next model.
Said document lists the builds of Android for Pixel devices that are already on the market but also mentioned upcoming and unannounced devices. So as well as the Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 – which will arrive this autumn in October – the Pixel 5a makes an appearance.
It’s codenamed ‘barbette’, although that doesn’t really tell us anything useful.
Interestingly, the document also refers to three other devices: ‘raven’, ‘oriole’ and ‘passport’. Google normally uses fish codenames but the doc notes these are different from those used in the Android Open Source Project.
Although we’re talking about the Pixel 5a here, the Raven and Oriole devices might well be Pixel 6 models, but the Passport is specifically referred to as a ‘foldable’ so will seemingly take on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Huawei Mate Xs and Motorola Razr 2.
When is the Pixel 5a release date?
The Pixel 4a is now on sale, but it’s no big surprise that there are no specific Pixel 5a rumours just yet.
However, we can safely say that it will arrive next year since the Raven, Oriole and Passport are all listed for ‘Q4 2021’. The Pixel 5a is likely to arrive earlier in the year to those Pixels and could well match the Pixel 4a with an August release if Google sticks to a 12-month cycle.
However, it could be May 2021 at Google’s I/O conference which is when the 4a was originally supposed to arrive, but the event was cancelled due to coronavirus.
With all the delays to the 4a, we’d expect it to be later in 2021 rather than sooner.
How much will the Pixel 5a cost?
It’s too early for any rumours, but we don’t think Google will stray far from the Pixel 4a price which is £349/US$349.
Here are the prices of current and previous Pixels:
Pixel 4 – £669/$799
Pixel 4 XL – £829/$899
Pixel 3a – £399/$399
Pixel 4a – £349/$349
Pixel 4a 5G – £499/$499
Pixel 5 – £599/$699
What specs will the Pixel 5a have?
With a fairly radical design change for the 4a, we don’t think Google will do anything to drastic with the Pixel 5a. It must be hard to be designing and building 2021 phones during the pandemic.
So we think it’s likely to sport a similar style and design. That is to say, a bezel-free front, probably with another punch-hole camera.
Keeping costs down means it’s unlikely for Google to move the fingerprint scanner from the back into the screen.
What we would like to see is some additions like wireless charging and waterproofing as these would make a bigger difference to the user experience. The iPhone SE has them, albeit at a higher cost so perhaps one, but not both is a realistic outlook.
There will almost certainly be an upgraded processor, likely another mid-range Qualcomm such as the Snapdragon 750G with decent RAM and storage as per the 4a. This could be good news for potential buyers, as the processor supports 5G, 120Hz refresh rates, 4K HDR recording and playback, plus a maximum of 12GB of RAM.
True, we don’t think the Pixel 5a will necessarily come with those features, but the processor means that any are possible if Google wants to bless their customers with some upgrades. We’re quite confident that at least the 5G capability will arrive in the new model.
However, don’t expect Google to change its Apple-esque policy on expandable storage.
Camera tech will likely be one of the biggest lures for the Pixel 5a. Google has done a great job of offering a flagship camera at an affordable price. The big question is whether Google will add a secondary camera.
The Pixel 4 has a telephoto lens so that could be brought to the 5a if Google can make it work cost-wise.
The Tech Advisor team would prefer a wide-angle lens but we also wouldn’t be too surprised if Google sticks to a single lens to differentiate with its flagship phones.