Google Pixel 5 key spec just leaked — and it's bad news

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

What do you get if you mix a high refresh-rate QHD+ display with a small battery? The answer is probably the Google Pixel 5

According to a tech leaker going by the name of ImJustSayingJC on Twitter, the Pixel 5 will have a 6.67-inch display with a pixel density of 540 PPI, which translates to a QHD+ resolution and a denser display than the Pixel 4 XL. But it will only have a 3,080 mAh battery, which seems oddly small for a 2020 phone with a QHD+ display. 

It was previously thought that the Pixel 5, which could just come in an XL model, will have a 120Hz refresh rate to keep up with the likes of the OnePlus 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and the upcoming iPhone 12 Pro models. But ImJustSayingJC said that “depending on battery performance” Google could give the Pixel 5 a 90Hz refresh rate to save on battery consumption.  

And with a 3,080 mAh battery capacity and a QHD+ screen to power, there’s an argument that a 120Hz display would be too heavy on a rather middling-sized battery. The Pixel 4 has a 2,800 mAh battery and the Pixel 4 XL has a ‎3,700 mAh capacity, and both had 90Hz refresh-rate displays and failed to impress us with their battery life. 

But ImJustSayingJC said that Google plans some heavy battery optimizations so that it can equip the Pixel 5 with a smaller battery in the same vein as what Apple is supposedly doing with its iPhones. 

The iPhone 12 models are rumored to have rather small batteries, with only the iPhone 12 Pro Max sporting a battery with over 3,000 mAh capacity. But Apple has a strong track record of excellent battery optimization, so we’d expect it to get a lot out of of its meager battery packs. Google’s track record is arguably less impressive, with the Pixel 4 delivering a disappointing battery life. 

But if the Pixel 5 is coming in an XL version only, then why equip it with a battery that’s on the smaller size? The answer to that is open to speculation, but it could be that Google will use the extra space under the hood to add in a special feature to the Pixel 5, much like the Pixel 4 had the Soli radar chip. Or it could use the space to add in more hardware, such as improved image signal processors, to boost the camera capabilities if the Pixel 5. 

The Pixel 5 is expected to have a trio of rear cameras, adding a wide-angle lens alongside the main and telephoto camera. More hardware-accelerated image processing could give the Pixel 5 the edge to hit back at the iPhone 11 Pro, which arguably offers some of the best smartphone photography around. 

With the Pixel 5 expected to make use of a mid-range Snapdragon 765G, it might not have a particularly power-hungry chipset either, which could help with saving battery life. 

Currently, a smartphone needs to last more than 11 hours in our in-house battery test to get on our list as one of the handsets with the best phone battery life. No Pixel phones are on that list, and with a 3,080 mAh battery, we’d not expect the Pixel 5 to make it either — unless Google pulls some clever optimization out of the bag. 

Time will tell in this case. And with the Pixel 5 expected to arrive in October, we might not have to wait very long to see it.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.