Many Android phone manufacturers have made the leap into 5G during 2019, but Google is not among them. The company defied speculation of a 5G Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL smartphone, when it revealed the devices at the Made by Google event on October 14.
Now Google has explained why it decided to hang fire on the next-gen mobile data connectivity, in a number of interviews published since the hardware showcase.
Google VP of product management Brian Rakowski told PCMag the time isn’t yet right to offer a 5G phone within the flagship range because of the lack of widespread service availability, and tradeoffs with power efficiency.
“It will get there,” Rakowski said, “but now is not the right time to buy a 5G phone. Both from a deployment perspective—the coverage is not broadly available in enough places for enough users to benefit from it—[and] from a hardware and phone perspective—it’s still power hungry [and] immature.
“There’s work to be done there,” Rakowski added. “We’re tracking it closely and we’ll bring a phone out when we feel like it’s a good time for users, but now’s not the time.”
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This echoes comments from Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh who said Google didn’t want to launch a massively expensive phone rocking 5G mobile connectivity, while the 5G ‘fundamentals could be better’.
He told The Vergecast: “5G is still pretty early and we could have made a $1,200 phone like everyone else. We didn’t because we didn’t think a $1,200 phone was the best thing to do right now. I think 5G will be interesting eventually, but it’s early. We’ll keep working on it, but we didn’t feel the timing was right for us now.
“I think my point of view is that right now, 5G has a lot of fundamentals that could be better… Like better useful, I mean. You’re going to get more capacity out of networks. You’ll get reduced latency. You’ll get better IP support. So, there’s a lot of positive things that can come of it, but it’s just like everyone is in the process of upgrading and it’s going to take a very long time.”
Google saying it’ll be a long time before the effects of 5G are truly felt already casts doubt on whether a 5G Pixel 5 will arrive in 2020.