Google Pixel 5a could be 'significant' announcement at Google I/O

Google Pixel 5a
(Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer/Voice)

A teaser for the Google Pixel 5a may have just come from the most senior figure at Google. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai mentioned "significant product updates and announcements" on the way for Google I/O in May. The comments were made in an earnings call, which you can find on YouTube.

The comment doesn't specify what products Pichai is talking about, and there are other upcoming products that he could be referring to, including the Pixel Watch. However, other rumors about the Pixel 5a suggest the upcoming phone is a strong bet.

Currently, the Pixel 5a is rumored to launch on June 11. Google I/O we know is being held on May 18 through 20. Therefore, Google's plan could be to announce the phone at I/O, and then schedule the retail release for the date in June.

Another potential product could be the rumored Pixel Watch. This would be Google's first smartwatch, and while it's been rumored for several years already, momentum seems to be building for it to appear this year. That could happen at I/O, but we may still have to wait longer since the current leaks don't offer a specific release date.

Pichai's opening message also assured investors that Google product announcements will return to a more regular pattern after the lockdowns of 2020 disrupted everything. This means we could see the Google Pixel 6, plus some Google Assistant enhancements and new smart home gear, at a Made by Google event in the fall — as per similar events in pre-COVID years.

While the Pixel 5a or Pixel Watch are strong possibilities for Google I/O, Google will definitely be talking about Android 12. It's likely we'll see the final list of features confirmed for the latest version of the operating system. That currently includes refinements to the UI, new usability via a one-hand mode, more responsive notifications, a new method of calling the Google Assistant and several other enhancements.

Another possible announcement could be about Whitechapel, the rumored Google-designed chipset that will appear in the Pixel 6. As the first non-Snapdragon chip to be used in a Pixel phone, it would be exactly the sort of thing Google would want to announce to the developer-heavy crowd tuning into I/O. The Google Pixel Buds A is another possibility.

Google Pixel 4a is not only the best of the best cheap phones, but one of the overall best phones alongside far more expensive devices. The Pixel 5a has big shoes to fill, and while it will it seems to be based on the also excellent Google Pixel 4a 5G, the rumors so far show a worrying lack of new features and upgrades. Disappointingly, it seems the Pixel 5a won't be available in the U.K., with the only rumored launch countries being the U.S. and Japan.

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.