I have no idea what Google is thinking right now. 9to5 Google has uncovered some pretty substantial evidence pointing to the reality that Google may very well ship the Pixel 5a with the exact same internal SoC as the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. The Snapdragon 765G those phones possess is fine for mid-range devices and it has proven itself a good fit for the money, but there’s something extremely confusing about the idea of a third device added to the mix in Google’s Pixel lineup with the exact same internals.
Generally, Google uses their ‘A’ branding to denote a downgrade in hardware and an increase in overall value. The Pixel 3a and 4a both did this quite well, skimping on specs from their earlier siblings in order to deliver a pared-down, distilled Pixel experience on a more friendly budget. It’s a great system, honestly, and one I think Apple and Samsung mimicked with their iPhone SE and Galaxy FE phones.
However, with the pandemic throwing a wrench in things in 2020 and with the upcoming plan to move the main Pixel lineup to in-house silicon (the GS101 chip), Google chose to put mid-range specs inside the Pixel 5 and things just got a bit awkward. With the release of the Pixel 4a 5G in conjunction with the Pixel 5, things were already a bit confusing. The two shared the same Snapdragon 765G processors, same cameras, and same software. The Pixel 5 had a better screen with 90hz refresh rates and better build quality, but the middling processor inside had us wondering what – if anything – could be done to make a Pixel 5a make sense. Do you go with a slightly better processor over the 4a 5G and, by default, a better processor than the Pixel 5? Do you use the Pixel 5 as a base and cut corners? Nope, because that’s basically what the 4a 5G is. Where could this thing even think about fitting in?
Now you have this report showing Google looks to be going with the same Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5a and I’m left wondering exactly what it is Google is planning to do with this device. How do you make a phone that cuts corners on the Pixel 5 without it basically becoming the Pixel 4a 5G? I’ll be honest, I have no idea and I think we’re in for a bit of a confusing season for Pixel phones until the vaunted Pixel 6 arrives this fall. With the arrival of that device, I’d hope Google gets back to a tick-tock pattern of a flagship in the fall and a budget version in the spring or summer. I understand they needed to bide time for the custom silicon that will come in the Pixel 6, but I also think the Pixel 5a could simply make things a confusing mess until it arrives. I suppose we’ll know soon enough with Google I/O just around the corner.