• Sat. Jan 23rd, 2021

Rumor: Pixel 5 is slower than the Pixel 4, has same camera as the Pixel 2 – Ars Technica

Hot on the heels of the first credible Pixel 5 render, we now have a live image and two reports on the specs for Google’s next flagship.

First, we have a report from Android Central, which says the Pixel 5 will have a 6-inch, 90Hz OLED display, a Snapdragon 765G, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The site couldn’t nail down the battery size but says it will be “considerably larger” than the Pixel 4.

The second report is a bit sketchier since it comes from a random Redditor, but the post is backed up by some compelling evidence: the first live picture of the Pixel 5 and its cheaper companion, the Pixel 4a 5G. The Redditor has since deleted their post, but XDA Developers has the best backup of all the information. Besides aligning with Android Central’s previous spec reports, Anonymous Redditor claims the phone has a 4000mAh battery. That would count as “considerably larger” than the Pixel 4’s 2800mAh battery, but that’s only on par with other midrange devices like the OnePlus Nord.

The second camera is apparently a wide-angle lens this time, instead of the telephoto lens that was equipped on the Pixel 4. Anonymous Redditor also reports the back of the phone is plastic, just like the Pixel 4a.

We also get specs on the main camera, which the Redditor claims is a 12MP Sony IMX363. This would not be at all surprising, but it would be disappointing since this would mark the fourth year in a row Google has gone with the same camera hardware. That’s right. Ever since the Pixel 2, Google has used a Sony IMX363 (or the identical IMX362) sensor as its main camera, and you’ll find the chip in the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4a. This is camera hardware from 2016, and sensors with bigger pixels and more light sensitivity are available to Google if it could be bothered to use them.

Despite its incredible age, the Pixel camera has managed to keep up with the competition thanks to Google’s software-first camera approach that it calls the “software-defined camera.” Google pioneered image stacking on a smartphone with better and better algorithms, leading to great low-light modes. Any algorithm would be better with a better input, though, and Google has basically ignored the past four years of camera-hardware progress, allowing its competitors to close the gap.

The other piece of hardware you can put in the “upgrade”-with-scare-quotes category is the Pixel 5’s Snapdragon 765G SoC. The Pixel 4 has a Snapdragon 855 SoC, and since Qualcomm chips perform similarly no matter what phone is built around them, we don’t need device-specific benchmarks to know the Pixel 5 will be slower than the Pixel 4. To give you an idea of just how much slower, we can pick any Snapdragon 765G phone and do a beta Pixel 4 versus Pixel 5 comparison:

With the Pixel 5, Google is making a transition from a flagship device to a midrange phone, which leads to awkward comparisons like this. The other awkward thing is that Google already has a midrange phone, the recently released Pixel 4a. To make things even more complicated, the Pixel 4a 5G will slot in between the two phones and is expected to have a Snapdragon 765G, a 3800mAh battery, and a 60Hz, 6.2-inch display.

Many sites, Ars included, have said that there is little reason for the more expensive Pixels to exist when the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a have been so good. It seems like Google’s response this year is to make the more expensive Pixel cheaper and put even less distance between the flagship Pixel and the “a” line, but now things are just looking very cluttered.

Listing image by Anonymous Redditor