Less than a year after its release, Google has discontinued sales of the Pixel 4 and 4XL in the US meaning all eyes are on the forthcoming Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G.
Discontinuing a device so soon after its release feels odd, but really the duo of Pixel 4 devices have always felt like they were waiting to be put out of their misery. These were two phones that promised so much, but ultimately failed to deliver.
When I reviewed the Pixel 4s last year I wanted to love them and it looked like they would offer everything I’d look for in a phone. That ace Pixel camera now with a bit more variety thanks to a telephoto secondary lens, a smooth 90Hz display, clean design and welcome extras like wireless charging and real, secure face unlock.
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But while there was a lot to like, the result was a phone that couldn’t compete with the best of what Android had to offer – even if it had the finest stills camera going.
Hyped features like the Project Soli radar-powered gesture method fell flat, while the battery life was widely ridiculed and even reported to be slammed by some at Google.
Now, with the Pixel 4 on its way out its up to the Pixel 5 to make sure Google’s line of phones stays relevant in the higher end of the market. If the 5 lacks in areas like the Pixel 4 did then it might be hard to see Google not just focussing on its cheaper, and resoundingly excellent, A line.
Looking at the Pixel 4a does give us an idea about where the brand could go. This is a simple phone that has great battery life, a flagship-worthy camera and design that’s the complete opposite to the glitzy glamour of the Mystic Bronze Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. If you take the blueprint of the 4a, add a few extra flourishes expected of a flagship like a fast screen, wireless charging and a multi-sensor camera array you could have a real winner.
See, I don’t want the Pixel 5 to be flashy. And if you look at teaser image (see above) Google showed when it announced the phone was coming it seems neither do they. Instead of being like the competition, Google needs to offer an alternative.
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We already know the Pixel 5 will a 5G phone, and if the other rumours are to believed then it’ll go with a mid-range chip inside rather than the high-end, and expensive, 865 or 865 Plus. This move, if true, could see the Pixel 5 priced more aggressively. We know the Pixel 4a 5G is coming at $499, so a $699 or $799 Pixel 5 could be able to mix features with affordability and be a complete package.
The Pixel line has always been an Android phone that attempts to offer what I want and until the Pixel 4 they’d be in my pocket for months after release. That tradition ended with the Pixel 4, but came back with Pixel 4a and that has given me hope that with the Pixel 5 Google might just right the wrongs. Maybe.