For months now, the Pixel 5 rumor mills have delivered conflicting messages regarding Google’s upcoming 2020 flagship smartphone. From the design to the phone’s specs, the message has shifted and evolved as we inch our way closer to the eventual launch this fall.
While this isn’t necessarily unusual, the difference between the Pixel 5 and most other devices is that the Pixel 5 has been downgraded from its flagship-tier smartphone to a mid-range device. Mid-range smartphones are extremely important to the market and often make up an overwhelming majority of unit sales for manufacturers, but it often means that sacrifices need to be made in order to offer just the right balance to make sure performance, design, and other capabilities align perfectly with the phone’s lowe price point.
If the latest leak turns out to be true, the Pixel 5 will fail to achieve that balance.
The images in this post claim to depict the design of the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 5 XL. As you can see, the design of the two phones is pretty similar to last year’s Pixel 4 devices. No specifications were shared with the new images, but we can clearly see that the square camera module on the back of the phone only has two cameras and the rear fingerprint sensor implies that Google will be ditching the Pixel 4’s face unlock feature.
Now, the Pixel 4 only had two cameras, but it still delivered one of the best camera experiences on a smartphone in 2019. So why do I take issue with the Pixel 5 only having two cameras? It’s simply: Google got it grown in 2019 and we should all be pissed if they repeat the same mistake in 2020. Anyone who’s used a Pixel 4 knows how amazing the cameras are, but you won’t find very many tech reviewers who still carry around the Pixel 4 or the 4XL as their daily driver. Yes, the phone had battery issues as well, but the competition proved time and time again that having a combination of an ultra-wide, standard and telephoto cameras on the back of the phone is infinitely better than simply having two cameras.
As for the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor: I thought we were living in 2020.
Google made a bold move in 2019 by skipping an in-display sensor and equipping the Pixel 4 devices with secure face unlock, similar to what Apple offers on the iPhone. This forced the Pixel 4 to have a larger bezel above the display than most other Android devices of the time, but the functionality, combined with Motion Sense, worked flawlessly. The inclusion of the feature also allowed Android developers to start using face unlock as a secure biometric identified to log into user accounts.
Moving away from a secure face unlock feature is disappointing enough, but going back to a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor feels like a slap in the face. Mounting a fingerprint sensor below a phone’s display has been the norm for nearly every smartphone over $500 for more than a year now. And while we still don’t have any concrete evidence regarding the Pixel 5’s price, I can guarantee you that it won’t be cheaper than $500.
The good news is that there’s no guarantee that these latest images of the Pixel 5 will turn out to be real. We could be looking at an early concept of the phone or a design variation of the Pixel 4a, we simply don’t know.
That being said, if the Pixel 5 is unveiled with the same features shown in these images, will you buy it?
I know I won’t.