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.

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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.

  • Yup, I agree. People are still gonna dream though. I'm happy with the Pixel 5.
  • Just like the rumor of the Pixel Ultra model
  • As much as this will probably not happen. This would be the smartest move for them to make. Every year except for what's going on now. They've many days late and dollars short when it comes to releasing their handsets. It's been not a few but nearly 8 months old chipset. That Samsung stole all the purchases from ages ago. Then instead of pricing it aggressively they've played the BIG Boy game and failed miserably. Give it to us early and make a proper splash. Wait the is Google never mind.
  • You are dreaming. You want something that will never happen. Why piss off Samsung that much? A perfect Pixel phone will never happen unless Google buys Samsung. They cannot piss off the biggest supplier of Android.
  • First there isn't going to be a perfect Pixel phone. We are talking about Google here. Samsung could use some ******* off but that's another conversation. It doesn't have to be just as Sammy releases the S whatever. Say instead of October have it in June. This gives time for the Big OEM's and then it's ahead of Apple. Coming in late just emphasizes all the more how behind Google is.
  • Shame Google have dropped out of the high-end premium market, but makes sense - they were never compelling products for the prices they charged and the market, unsurprisingly, didn't respond to them well. I have a Pixel 5, and even though it's only $100 less than the Pixel 4 was, it seems to have cut/cheapened so many features. The Pixel 4 had better vibration motor, face unlock, soli, squeeze for assistant, better build/quality, flagship Snapdragon 8xx processor - all that for an extra $100. I don't get why the Pixel 5 is priced at $700. I'd honestly rather all those features back and pay an extra $100 than all of it scalped and still being charged $700. No one knows what on earth Google's 'strategy' is when it comes to phones (not even Google), as every year seems to be a reset year. The phones have absolutely no consistency between them, every year the design changes rapidly, features change and get cut and now pricing has changed. Google don't know themselves what they're doing, so not surprised the Pixel 'flagship' phones were a total and utter failure. And I don't see it improving. I don't see the point of the Pixel 5, or why anyone would buy that over the Galaxy S20 FE (which is a much better value proposition) or iPhone 12 for an extra $100 (and even less when it's subsidised on a plan, so the monthly $ out of pocket is marginal). Google might as well just stop making 'flagship' Pixel phones altogether and just make Pixel 'a' phones as their only devices. They're the only ones with an actual reasonable value proposition for the consumer, hence why they're the only ones selling more than a few dozen units. The only thing I could see happen would be if Google move their phone released to Q2 in the year so it's far away from the iPhone. I have no idea why Google thought it would be a good idea to reveal their flagship phones in October, a couple of weeks after the iPhone. People by then have already decided to get the iPhone, have placed pre-orders, the news is dominated by the iPhone release - no one is paying attention or waiting to hold out for the Pixel phones, aside from die-hard Pixel/Nexus fans. Having the phone released in April/May would distance itself from the iPhone so then *maybe* someone who needs to upgrade might make a snap decision to buy a Google phone as it's new rather than waiting for the iPhone in September. But right now, these October releases are just horrible reveal/release windows.
  • From my reading the P5 was priced at 700 due to the inclusion of Verizon mmWav tech. Note in other countries it cost less. For me the 5 is 100 too expensive, especially with the merely adequate processor
  • The 4a 5G is essentially a 5a, no? Or would a 5a combine the 4a's size, processor and price with the 5's camera. That'd be a nice upgrade. Then the 6 can get a nice camera bump to keep it premium.
  • I have questions about the clorox wipes article. Do they have reverse wireless charging. I heard they were going to have a headphone 🎧 jack. Will there be timely updates and for how long are they guaranteed.
  • They could bump the screen resolution, top of line processor, more ram and a third camera and new main sensor. Go all glass, etc. Makes sense to have a phone at every level. They are never going to cannablize many Samsung sales.