Google Pixel 5 could lose this key Pixel 4 feature — and that’s good

Google Pixel 5 design render
(Image credit: Sarang Sheth)

The Google Pixel 5 is rumored to be losing the Soli radar chip that debuted in the Pixel 4. While that will mean fewer advanced features for the next Google flagship phone, it could be a move that helps the Pixel 5 challenge the best Android phones.

Stephen Hall of 9to5Google (via PhoneArena) broke the news during an episode of the Android-focussed site's Alphabet Scoop podcast, but then later tweeted about it, as you can see below.

Removing the Soli radar chip would mean no more Motion Sense - the ability to control certain actions on the Pixel 4 using air gestures. Motion Sense also allowed the Pixel 4's face unlock to work faster, as it woke up and prepared the phone so so that it was ready to be unlocked when you picked it up.

It's also likely that Motion Sense and the Soli chip contributed to the Pixel 4's disappointing battery life, as did its relatively small 2,800 mAh battery. Other Pixel 4 troubles included the 90Hz refresh rate not being consistent.

There are some upsides though. The Soli sensor was one of the reasons the Pixel 4 had a large top bezel, which made the phone look old fashioned. But without this sensor, and with the Pixel 4a likely getting a punch-hole camera notch when it releases in a month or so, it's looking likely that the Pixel 5 will get a similarly sleek design.

Losing the Soli chip should also help keep the Google Pixel 5's price down while also allowing it to run longer on a charge. 

The Pixel 5 is also rumored to bring some other big changes. It could potentially use a less powerful Snapdragon 765 CPU instead of the Snapdragon 865 chipset that many Android flagships currently use, such as the OnePlus 8 Pro. We're expecting 5G capabilities either way, and another camera sensor to join the Pixel 4's main and telephoto sensors.

As is typical with Google, we're also anticipating the Pixel 5 will be the first phone to launch with the newest version of the Android operating system: Android 11. Ultimately, the Pixel line is best known for its cameras, but now that the team's camera lead has left Google, it remains to be seen how that might impact the Pixel 5.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.