Updated, July 9, 2021 (04:00 PM ET): We’ve updated this article with information gleaned from the Google Pixel 5a passing through the FCC. Read on for more!
Original article: Last year, the Google Pixel 4a and its bigger brother, the Google Pixel 4a 5G, became two of our top-five smartphones of 2020. While the vanilla model didn’t take the top crown overall, it certainly took the crown for value. Now, in 2021, all eyes are on the follow-up, officially known as the Google Pixel 5a 5G.
We expect this new entry in the “a” series to fit into the same mold as previous models. That means it should have a similar camera system to the Pixel 5 and should be very inexpensive.
Below, you’ll find all the official info and credible rumors we have so far on the Google Pixel 5a. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can stay up-to-date, as we’ll be adding new rumors here as they land!
Name and release date
On April 9, Google officially confirmed that the name of its next “a” series phone would be the Google Pixel 5a 5G. This isn’t too surprising as Google has kept strictly to its numbering system ever since the launch of the very first Pixel in 2016.
The release date for the phone is much more ambiguous. The first “a” series phone — the Google Pixel 3a — dropped in May 2019. We fully expected the follow-up to that phone to land in May 2020. However, that didn’t come to pass. This is very likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which at that point was making business difficult for pretty much every industry.
See also: All Google Pixel phones released so far
Eventually, the Pixel 4a landed in August 2020. With such a disparity between those two launch dates, it’s hard to pinpoint when the Google Pixel 5a could launch. The only hint we have is Google saying that it would launch “later this year” and “announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.” So that could mean August 2021 or slightly before or slightly after.
Most recently, a phone that is almost certainly the Pixel 5a passed through the FCC. This is usually a sign that a launch is imminent, so an August date is still our best bet.
Google Pixel 5a: Design
Thanks to frequent and reliable leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka @OnLeaks), we already have a good idea of how the Google Pixel 5a could look. According to the leaked renders, the Pixel 5a could be a near-clone of the Pixel 4a 5G.
The renders show a phone that carries the same design elements as the Pixel 4a 5G, including a dual-lens rear camera. If this comes to pass, it would be a nice upgrade over the Pixel 4a and Pixel 3a, which both only had single-lens rear cameras. It’s also nice to see that the 3.5mm port doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
The one thing we can conclude, though, is that the camera system of the Pixel 5a will almost certainly be better than the Pixel 4a’s simply due to the presence of that secondary lens. This alone could be enough of a reason for Pixel 4a owners to upgrade, to say nothing of Pixel 3a owners.
Google Pixel 5a: Specs
As mentioned earlier, the official name of the next “a” device from Google is the Google Pixel 5a 5G. The inclusion of 5G here puts the internal specs of the phone into question. After all, if Google makes the Pixel 5a too similar in specs and features to the Pixel 4a 5G, what’s even the point of the Pixel 4a 5G existing?
If the Google Pixel 5a looks just like the Pixel 4a 5G, does that mean it will have the same specs, too?
If the phone looks like the Pixel 4a 5G and even has the same processor, how is Google going to make it not just be a Pixel 4a 5G with a different name? One theory is that Google would remove mmWave support from the Pixel 5a, which would reduce costs. A couple of other cut corners such as this could get the price low enough.
Whatever the case, we can expect the Google Pixel 5a to not have lower-grade specs than its predecessor. That means it should have at least 128GB of internal storage, at least 6GB of RAM, a 1080p or better display, 18W wired charging or better, etc. It is highly unlikely wireless charging or an IP rating are in the cards. It is also unlikely that it would have a high refresh rate display, as Google appears to be locking that out of the “a” series.
Price and availability
Google wowed us last year when it announced that the Pixel 4a would actually be $50 cheaper than its predecessor. Considering the bevy of upgrades the Pixel 4a offered over the Pixel 3a, this was a true bargain.
It is highly unlikely that we’ll see a repeat of that this year. Although we don’t have any solid rumors on pricing yet, we can’t imagine Google dropping the Google Pixel 5a price even lower than the Pixel 4a’s $349. If anything, we should expect the price to stay the same or even go back up to the $399 price of the Pixel 3a.
That being said, it is also very unlikely that Google would go much higher than $399. The Pixel 4a 5G starts at $499 and was sold as a more premium version of the Pixel 4a (or a weaker version of the $699 Pixel 5, take your pick). As such, the Pixel 5a would need to come in at a much lower price, and $399 seems like the appropriate price ceiling.
For what it’s worth, Max Weinbach posits that the Pixel 5a will be more expensive than the Pixel 4a. Take that as you will.
As far as availability goes, Google confirmed the phone would land in the United States and Japan. While that confirmation doesn’t mean it would only land in those countries, it does make it unlikely we’ll see it anywhere else. It’s possible that Google planned to launch the phone in more countries but faced setbacks due to the ongoing global chip shortage. We’ll need to wait and see when the phone launches to be certain.
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