Google Pixel 5a specs leak reveals an unexpected twist

Pixel 5a
Google Pixel 5a front and back offset (Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer/Voice)

The Google Pixel 5a in 2021 may be seriously held back if new leaks are to be believed.

Code found within Android 12 seems to confirm the new budget Pixel will use the same Snapdragon 765G chipset as the Google Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. This apparent stagnation in the Pixel 5a's hardware could spell disaster for Google's sales figures as rivals continue to gain ground.

By rooting around in the back end of the newly launched Android 12 Developer Preview 3, 9to5Google was able to find a mention of the Pixel 5a's codename "barbet," alongside the codename for the Snapdragon 765G: "sm7250."

Google Pixel 5a chipset codename in Android 12

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

The decision to stick to the same chip as last year is likely due to the current worldwide chipset shortage affecting smartphone, computer and games console makers alike. It's the same reason that's led Google to already confirm that while the Pixel 5a will launch, it will only be sold in a limited number of countries, including the U.S. but excluding the U.K.

Leaked renders of the Pixel 5a also suggest that the rest of the design won't change much from the Pixel 4a 5G. That includes the 6.2-inch FHD display and the dual rear cameras, consisting of a main sensor and an ultrawide sensor.

The 5a's launch may happen as soon as next month. The first Pixel a-series phone, the Google Pixel 3a, debuted at 2019's Google I/O developer event. With Google I/O 2021 taking place from May 18 - 20, the Pixel 5a could be just weeks from launch. However an alternate rumor claims that we should mark our calendars for June 11 instead, which also seems to line up with Google's vague statement on the launch window.

Last year's Google Pixel 4a and Google Pixel 4a 5G are both good mid-range phones, with the 4a heading up our best cheap phones guide. However holding back on hardware upgrades may give ground to newer rivals, like the freshly debuted Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G or the iPhone SE

If the components of the Pixel 5a have to remain almost the same as the last generation, then the best thing Google could do is offer it at a highly competitive price. Keeping the price lower than or around $400, similar to how the Pixel 4a is priced, would be ideal.

At least the new generation of Pixel phones will be able to benefit from the new features within Android 12 from launch. This is something that other comparable phones may not get for several months.

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.