Pixel 4Source: Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google may not launch a flagship phone later this year.
  • Instead, the Pixel 5 series may have a Snapdragon 765G powering them.
  • It's unclear what the pricing of the new phones will be if this comes to pass, or what the fate of the Pixel Xa series will be.

According to a teardown of the Google Camera app on a pre-release version of the Pixel 4a obtained by 9to5Google, next year's Pixel phones may not be true-blue flagships, eschewing the Snapdragon 865 in favor of a Snapdragon 765G, the top-end of Qualcomm's midrange lineup.

The teardown revealed two files called "photo_pixel_2020_midrange_config" and "photo_pixel_2020_config." These are seemingly references to the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 series, since Google's naming convention for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4 was previously "photo_pixel_2019_midrange_config" and "photo_pixel_2019_config."

The device codenames corresponding to the "photo_pixel_2020_config" — by all accounts, Google's nomenclature for the 2020 'flagships' — are Bramble and Redfin, as per 9to5Google's breakdown. These codenames are also backed up by an investigation by @Cstark_27 on Twitter.

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Where things get really interesting, though, is the fact that we've seen these codenames before. Back in January, the same codenames were discovered in the AOSP source code, with both Redfin and Bramble sporting a Snapdragon 765G. At the time, it wasn't clear if Google was just planning on releasing more midrange phones like the Pixel 4a in 2020 or if these were simply codenames for internal prototypes.

The reality, according to this latest report, is perhaps far stranger, and it looks like the company may entirely forego flagship offerings this year, with both the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 5 XL launching as midrange phones. Both phones will support 5G, however, thanks to the integrated 5G modem in the Snapdragon 765G.

If this is, indeed, true, it would undoubtedly be a significant departure from the company's direction so far. At the same time, since the biggest draw of the Pixel line is Google's software, it's certainly possible for the company to pull off many of the same camera tricks that it's achieved on the Pixel series with a less expensive but still very capable processor. It was, after all, able to do just that with the Pixel 3a.

How much these phones would, then, cost and what the change would mean for the future of any Pixel 5a remains to be seen.

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