Forget Pixel 4a: Google is already working on a Pixel 5a

Google Pixel 4a
(Image credit: Google Store)

The Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a aren’t even officially confirmed yet, but now we have some unofficial confirmation that Google is already planning a Pixel 5a.

First spotted by 9to5Google, a code change in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) has a developer summarizing the existing Pixel lineup and what version of Android it came or will come with out of the box. Sure enough, at the bottom is the Pixel 5a. 

An extract from the AOSP documentation

(Image credit: Android Open Source Project)

Ordinarily “company plans follow-up phone” wouldn’t exactly be headline news, but this is no ordinary year. And when you consider the song-and-dance Google has made with the Pixel 4a — finally due out this week — you might wonder if the company’s heart was really in its excellent budget line.

Originally due to arrive in May, the Pixel 4a has been ready for some time, but subject to near-monthly delays despite it being ready to go. At some point, Google also decided to kill off the Pixel 4a XL, which is hardly a good omen for those already looking ahead to next year’s models.  

But this AOSP reference shows that, for now at least, Google is working on a Pixel 5a. You might think that the Pixel 4a’s delays would result in the Pixel 5a getting pushed back to much later in the year, but that doesn’t currently seem to be the plan, given it’s listed as running Android 11 (R) rather than next year’s Android 12. That said, if there’s one thing we can learn from the Pixel 4a saga it’s that release dates are subject to change.

As leaks go, this is quite unfortunate timing. The Pixel 4a is due to arrive on August 3, and hearing that its follow up isn’t too far away might push potential buyers into waiting just a little bit longer. That’s a pity, as from what we’ve seen it looks like the Pixel 4a will be a capable little handset, with a Snapdragon 730 processor backed by 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage. 

But as with last year’s Pixel 3a, the best features are likely to be elsewhere: the camera and early access to Android updates. For the camera, it looks like we’re getting a single 12-megapixel lens, but if previous Pixels are anything to go by, this will punch well above its weight thanks to Google’s best-in-class image processing. Yes, it’s a pity that the Pixel 4a won’t be inheriting the Pixel 4’s 16-megapixel telephoto lens, but you can’t have everything.

Or more accurately, you can’t have everything at this price. The Pixel 4a is set to go on sale for $349 — quite a bit cheaper than the $799 RRP of the original Pixel 4. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.