Google Pixel 5a camera samples just leaked — here’s your first look

Google Pixel 6 leak
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Google Pixel 5a is coming later this year, something confirmed by Google a few weeks ago in the face of cancellation rumors over chip shortages. Now the company has revealed something else about the upcoming handset, albeit this time completely by accident.

The Google AI blog published a research post reviewing the advancements in bracketing (taking several shots of the same subject using different camera settings) in HDR+ photography in its phones, name checking the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a versions in the process. However, in the accompanying gallery two now deleted photos got special attention. 

The EXIF metadata from the picture below, captured by 9to5Google before it was taken down, shows it was taken using a Google Pixel 5a handset. The movie theater in the shot also indicates the photo was taken in Taiwan, which is unsurprising as that’s where Pixel phones are developed. 

Pixel 5a camera sample

(Image credit: 9to5Google / Google)

Other than that it’s a nicely composed photo, which is unsurprising given Google’s photography heritage and the fact that the company decided to use it in a promotional blog post, two other details stand out. 

Firstly, it uses an ultrawide f/2.2 lens which gives us a solid specification to pin to the upcoming handset. Secondly, the picture was taken back on October 1, 2020, which is actually two weeks before the Pixel 5 was released. In other words, Google has been working on this handset for some time.

The second picture that Google deleted is more mysterious, as the metadata didn’t reveal a handset name. But given it was removed at the same time, it seems likely it’s from the Pixel 5a as well, or another unannounced handset. This snap was taken more recently, back on February 16.

Pixel 5a camera sample

(Image credit: 9to5Google / Google)

We'll be curious to see whether Google sticks with its philosophy of one camera is good enough for the Pixel a-series phones. Or if it'll take a leaf out of the Google Pixel 4a 5G's book an add a second camera. Given the Pixel 4a XL has an ultrawide angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture, we'd predict that Pixel 5a will have two rear cameras. 

According to code found within Android 12, the Pixel 5a could use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G as the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, and given a leaked design shows a similar look to its predecessor, it will be interesting to see what material changes Google has actually made between generations. 

Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out: Google IO is next month, and there’s a good chance we’ll see it unveiled there, although we did have to deal with myriad delays before the Pixel 4a finally arrived last year.   

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.