Google Pixel 5 won’t be a Galaxy S20 or iPhone 12 rival? That’s great news

(Image credit: Future)

If leaked specs are to be believed, the Google Pixel 5 won’t offer the same beastly Snapdragon 865 processor as the Samsung Galaxy S20. And the Pixel 5 wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 12’s expected A14 Bionic chip when it presumably launches this fall. 

Instead, the Pixel 5 will reportedly feature a more mid-range chip in the Snapdragon 765G, which is a step below the Snapdragon 865, while still offering 5G capability. And that’s actually good news —  both for Google and for shoppers.

Up until now, Google has used its flagship Pixel phones to challenge Apple’s and Samsung’s top flagships, but time and time again it has failed to crack this duopoly. And Google is not alone. Just look at HTC, which has now faded into the background, and LG, which is struggling to stay relevant in the smartphone market with its LG V60 ThinQ.

A mid-range or upper-mid-range Pixel 5 would make a lot more sense for Google. It would allow the company to potentially undercut the iPhone 12, which will presumably cost more than today’s $699 iPhone 11 due to the addition of 5G. And Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup starts at $999.

Meanwhile, OnePlus has moved up market with its phones, as its OnePlus 7T started at $599. It’s currently on sale for $499 from T-Mobile. That price reduction likely has something to do with the fact that the OnePlus 8 Pro is on the way, which will likely cost more than $599 due to the addition of 5G.

For Google, going up against the likes of OnePlus make a lot more sense than battling it out with Apple and Samsung. At the same time, the Pixel 5 can undercut the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S20 while giving the OnePlus 8 a run for its money. And Google has more marketing muscle than OnePlus.

But here’s where things get tricky. If the rumored Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL start at the same price as their predecessors, you would be looking at $399 and $479, respectively. Those prices could also creep up if Google decides to add 5G capability. But my bet is on a 4G-only experience for this year on the a-series phones in order to keep prices down.

Pixel 5 cameras

The Pixel 5 may get an ultra-wide camera, but this design is definitely not confirmed (Image credit: Front Page Tech)

Still, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the Pixel 5 to compete in between the $479 Pixel 4a XL and an iPhone 12 at $699 (or a little more). It looks like Google will want to hit the $599 sweet spot with the Pixel 5 to be at least $100 less than the newest iPhone this fall.

Previous Pixel 5 rumors have pointed to the possible (and overdue) addition of a ultra-wide camera to complement its wide-angle and telephoto lenses. And you can also expect reverse wireless charging, a feature that Samsung has offered for a couple of years. Also expect an ultra-low power mode, which would be welcome since the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL didn't offer the best phone battery life.

Some rumors point to Google offering a Pixel 5 Ultra that would be a true flagship to rival the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S20 Ultra, but given the troubles Google has had competing on the high end of the phone market, a non-flagship, flagship killer could be just what shoppers will want.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.