Here's why Google probably won't release a 'true flagship Pixel' next March

Google Pixel 5 review
Google Pixel 5 review (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The latest rumor says that Google is going to release a "true flagship" Pixel in March 2021. There's no reason to even consider this one, though.

To be fair, the latest person to utter the words out loud (in 2020 Twitter is the new out loud) is Max Weinbach and even he doesn't seem to give it much weight, calling unsubstantiated.

Of course, a lot of people are ignoring the unsubstantiated part and only remember that Weinbach does get a lot of early leaks and has a good track record. That doesn't change anything this time, though, and I'm going to have to say nope. This one isn't happening.

Google's hardware division has seen more leaks than Mario.

There are a lot of good reasons to not buy into this one. A Pixel coming in March means the software is mostly finalized and the phone is entering its manufacturing stage. Even Samsung or Apple can't snap fingers and make phones appear; it takes months of work to get the first shipment into a box. If a new Pixel was past the prototype stage someone, somewhere would have taken a blurry photo or something. Think about how early we saw the Pixel 4a. And the Pixel 4, and Pixel 3, and so on and so on.

Another reason is that Android's code review, the company uses Gerrit, is available for everyone to read online. It's filled with edits and comments and even though someone tries to sift through them and delete things like a reference to the Pixel 5a (probably what's coming in Q2 2021) not all of Google's secrets can be wiped from the face of the web before they are seen. People love to dig through Google's code review specifically to look for stuff like new devices.

Pixel 5 vs Pixel 4a 5G

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Finally, what exactly is a true flagship Pixel anyway? Is it a Pixel 5 with a Snapdragon 875 inside and a $1,100 price outside? Or is it a Pixel 4a 5G with that new Snapdragon and that high price? Google has wisely, in my opinion, moved away from super expensive phones because it knows it can't sell super expensive phones without adding more exclusive software features and pissing off every other phone maker.

I think we'll see the Pixel 5a sometime in early 2021 because it has been "leaked" in Google's code.

Some people are hoping that this might be the rumored foldable Pixel. I do think Google has to make one eventually if Android is going to be great on folding phones but now isn't the time. Google can instead work with Samsung and Microsoft to figure out all the basics and just what needs to be added to Android for foldables before it makes one with only standard APIs for developers to use. March 2021 isn't that time.

So here's what I expect, but this is even less than a rumor and just an opinion of someone who has seen and covered Google's hardware releases for the past 10 years: Pixel 5a around May. Probably a single phone with the latest Snapdragon 700 series chip and 5G radios. A Pixel 6 sometime in the fall, placed between Samsung's new Note and Apple's new iPhone so it has no chance of selling well.

The Pixel 5 is Google's flagship. Don't expect that to change for at least a year.

I know a lot of people are hungry for another expensive Pixel phone with a better SoC inside, but I just don't see it happening any time soon. In the meantime, the Pixel 5 is Google's new "flagship" and it's a damn nice phone.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.