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Why the best Google Pixel phone might come in 2021



This time last year, I wrote a column titled “If you have a Pixel 4 for Christmas, you should probably return it.” I did not want to write it. Ever since Pixel was launched in 2016, I have messed with the success of Google’s phone. No other company is in such a position to bring an iPhone-like level of hardware / software integration and an experience that is unmatched on any other Android phone.

Unfortunately, Google never completely nailed it. The chips were all there – flagship processor, amazing camera, regular Android updates – but the design always left a lot to be desired, the features were gimmicky, and the battery was just good enough. On the Pixel 4, the compromises became too much to bear.

google pixels Michael Simon

Previous Pixel phones never had the right formula.

But things can look up. In 2020, Google launched the strategy with Pixel 4a and 5, and the results were shockingly good. First, the design was fantastic, with a light frame, slim frames and a structured glass that is not in glass. But the more interesting features were inside the phone: Google chose the mid-size Snapdragon 765G instead of the 865, and the Pixel did not lose a step. It still feels fast, still delivers the purest Android experience, and still takes better pictures than phones that cost hundreds of dollars more. It also opens up Pixel for a new world of possibilities.

Lower end, upper class

Pixel may have been just a glimpse into Google’s eye when Android One was launched in 2014, but the two projects have been cut by the same cloth. The vision of Android One was to bring a pure Android experience to lower phones that were often filled with bloatware. The Pixel phones are basically advanced Android One phones. Even with better components and monitors, the focus – and selling point – is on software.

pixel 5 logo Michael Simon / IDG

Pixel 5 lost the glass, but continued wireless charging.

However, this software is largely the reason why the early Pixel phones did not have much impact. The designs did not match the high cost, especially compared to similar phones from Apple and Samsung. Therefore, Pixel 3a and 4a have clearly done better when it comes to sales: The lower prices only make more sense.

With Pixel 4a, 4a 5G and 5, Google creates a better balance between the hardware people want and the software they need. With Android One, Google worked closely with manufacturers of phone and silicon chips … to build phones that are not only good to use, but also affordable, a mantra that has found its way into the Pixel series in 2020. It’s more than just a lower price point or slower piece. For what seems like the first time in a Google phone, the Pixel 5 phone is built solely to harness the power of Android without worrying about exclusive parts and expensive competitors.

Pixel 6 can take it even longer. The lineup this year was a bit confusing with the $ 499 Pixel 4a 5G and $ 699 Pixel 5, especially since the 4a 5G had a larger screen than 5. Google has a lot more room to grow now that it has established the Pixel as a mid-range device.

It starts with the processor. While Qualcomm has not yet announced the successor to the 765G that powers the Pixel 4a and 5, there have been rumors that Google is working on its own processor. Axios reported earlier this year that “Google received its first working versions of the chip” and could be ready by next year. Axios reports that the chip will “include hardware optimized for Google’s machine learning technology,” with a portion of the chip focusing on “improving Google Assistant’s performance and always on features.”




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