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Fast Charge: Ditching the flagship chipset is right for the Pixel 5

Rumours have once again swirled that the forthcoming Pixel 5 will ditch the typical flagship internals for a more modest, mid-range chipset.

According to a tweet from Android Police’s Editor-in-Chief David Ruddock, along with numerous other internet rumours, the next flagship from Google won’t use the top-end Snapdragon 865 chipset, with the phone instead getting its power from a Snapdragon 765.

The news that Google’s Pixel 5 won’t use the same super-fast chip as the Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro probably hit those who value benchmark scores above everything hard but, in reality, this move makes a lot of sense.

Google’s Pixel phones have never been about specs. While Samsung and OnePlus will devote plenty of time to performance chat during their yearly phone reveals, Google nearly always missed it out completely. Instead, it’s far more likely to show how the power is used and what the phone can actually do. I find it so refreshing to see. Having reviewed lots of phones that pack the 865 and come with prices over £1000, I consistently feel that, for a lot of people, the amount of power is wasted.

There’s a whole new section of premium mid-range devices that focus on other areas aside from performance that could appear if Google does indeed take this step and it’s a type of phone I have been waiting to see.

There are many reasons why switching from the high-end 865 to the mid-range, but still supremely capable, 765 make complete sense.

Take the price of the phone, for instance. The flagship Pixels have never been huge sellers for Google, at least when compared to the Galaxy S series, and being able to offer the key features people come to the Pixel line for (think camera, software, functional design) at a more reasonable price could be key. And I am not talking about Pixel 3a price – price this at around £500/£600 for the larger model and you should have the perfect mix between price and functionality. Market the Pixel 3a (or likely the upcoming Pixel 4a) as the budget choice, with the Pixel 5 offering more ‘flagship’ features at a price that undercuts much of the competition. Then, finally, the Pixel series has a real differentiating factor to the masses.

Cutting back on the chipset should, hopefully, help in other areas too. While I wanted to love the Pixel 4 XL, the battery life was so bad that I would need to always carry a portable charger if I was going to be out for the whole day. These less powerful chipsets tend to have better endurance, so Google could ensure the phone lasts longer without making it bigger or heavier.

Having a less powerful chipset shouldn’t compromise what makes the Pixel 5 a true Pixel phone. That comes from the unique design (Pixel 4 remains my favourite phone design in a long time), clever software features and, importantly, a good camera.

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