When the Google Pixel 5 arrived a few months back, it felt like something was missing. Past Pixel phones launched with an XL model, but the Pixel 5 made a solo debut. Could the Pixel 5 Pro be the missing piece in Google's smartphone puzzle?
There's a lot of mystery surrounding the Pixel 5 Pro, not the least of which is the debate as to whether the phone is actually in Google's pipeline. Nevertheless, a few rumors have emerged about the potential addition to Google's lineup — some of them contradicting each other — so it's worth trying to keep all the Google Pixel 5 Pro speculation straight.
Here's what we've heard so far about the Google Pixel 5 Pro and the chances that this phone will go from rumor to reality.
Google Pixel 5 Pro: Where it fits in Google's lineup
Before we get into Pixel 5 Pro rumors, we need to first recap the state of Google's Pixel lineup. Currently, Google sells three phones with the Pixel 5 as its flagship device. Introduced in October, this $699 Pixel continues Google's tradition of software-powered mobile photography, making it one of the best camera phones you can buy. It also features 5G connectivity.
But the Pixel 5 may not be the best 5G phone Google offers. That honor goes to the Pixel 4a 5G, which offers many of the same features — including dual rear cameras and an identical Snapdragon 765G processor. The Pixel 4a 5G lacks the faster refresh rate of the Pixel 5's display and it doesn't have a water resistance rating like the Pixel 5 does. But it also costs $200 less and its screen is slightly larger, at 6.2 inches versus 6 inches.
The Pixel 4a rounds out Google's phone lineup. It only features one rear camera, runs on a less powerful processor, and lacks 5G connectivity. But at $349, it's one of the best smartphone bargains you can find, especially with the high-quality pictures it can produce.
So that's three phones, ranging in price from $349 to $699. The Pixel 5 Pro would presumably trump all those models in terms of specs and likely introduce a higher price more in line with what Google used to charge for its flagship devices. Given the lack of an XL version of the Pixel 5, we'd expect a larger screen, too, to compete with phablets like the Galaxy Note 20 from Samsung and the iPhone 12 Pro Max from Apple.
Google Pixel 5 Pro: Release date
Rumblings about a Pixel 5 Pro first began to emerge in October when respected leaker Max Weinbach tweeted that two people had told him that a "true flagship Pixel" would arrive in March 2021. Even then, Weinbach described the rumor as "unsubstantiated. Two months later, he declared that the Pixel 5 Pro didn't exist. "I wish the Pixel 5 Pro was real, but it's not," he tweeted.
This is the biggest rumor I've heard in ages, and I mean this is an unsubstantiated rumor I've heard from like 2 people so absolutely don't believe it, but apparently there's a true flagship Pixel coming out in like March 2021. Again, unsubstantiated rumor.October 29, 2020
Others believe there's fire behind that Pixel 5 Pro smoke. Ross Young, an analyst who tracks display suppliers, replied to Weinbach's tweet, saying that panel suppliers had told him the Pixel 5 Pro was on hold.
So even if you buy the idea that the Pixel 5 Pro exists as something Google has in its plans, it sounds like that original March 2021 launch date isn't going to happen. That would then push the phone later into the spring when Google's been known to roll out budget phones at around the same time as its developer conference. Any later than that, and a phone launch runs up against the Pixel 6 rollout that's likely to happen in the fall, when Google traditionally shows off its latest flagships.
Google Pixel 5 Pro: Price
If the rumor mill can't agree on when the Pixel 5 Pro is coming — or even if it exists — then don't expect any clarity on pricing. Given the Pixel 5's $699 cost, you'd expect a Pro version to be higher. How much higher would depend on what features are available, though $100 to $200 more seems like a reasonable estimate. For what it's worth, the Pixel 4 XL cost $899 when it debuted in 2019.
Google Pixel 5 Pro: Potential features
Should Google come out with a Pro version of its Pixel 5, it stands to reason that the phone would be a more advanced version of Google's current flagship. That means addressing some of the areas where the Pixel 5 came up short, and there's no bigger way to improve that phone than by bumping up its processor.
In the interest of keeping down the cost of the Pixel 5, Google opted for a less powerful processor than the one found in leading Android flagships. Instead of the Snapdragon 865 that powers the Galaxy S20, OnePlus 8 and other top Android phones, the Pixel 5 features a Snapdragon 765G. That's a capable system-on-chip that will handle the tasks most people use smartphones for, but it can't measure up to phones that benefit from Qualcomm's more powerful silicon.
You'd imagine that the Pixel 5 Pro would opt for a chipset from Qualcomm's best-in-class 8 series. And the arrival of the Snapdragon 888, a new mobile processing platform that's likely headed to devices like the Galaxy S21, gives Google an opportunity. Google could turn to the Snapdragon 865 now that it's no longer Qualcomm's leading chipset and offer a more powerful phone without too big an increase in price. The Snapdragon 888, meanwhile, could be used in the Pixel 6 when it shows up next fall as expected.
Google also dropped Motion Sense gesture controls from the Pixel 5 after introducing the feature with the Pixel 4. In part, this was done to get rid of the thick top bezel that housed the sensors needed to detect gestures and support facial recognition. But Motion Sense was also a feature that really didn't have a wide appeal and that might be more at home on a pro-focused phone.
One of the few leaks hinting at potential Pixel 5 Pro features was a series of photos that showed up on Slash Leaks. One photo in particular depicted a phone without any sort of cutout or notch to house a front camera. Some people interpreted that to mean Google was working on a phone with a camera beneath the display, a feature currently available in just the ZTE Axon 20 5G. But this alleged photo of the Pixel 5 Pro has been widely dismissed as a fake.
If you still want to believe, though, another screenshot from that same source revealed some of the Pixel 5 Pro's reported specs. These include 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which would be double the capacity of the Pixel 5.
Google Pixel 5 Pro: What we want
Right now, the biggest thing we're hoping to hear about the Pixel 5 Pro is whether the phone will come to be or not. At this point, unless the pace of rumors starts picking up very soon, we'd assume that this product is simply not to be.
On the chance that a Pixel 5 Pro is in the works, though, we'd hope for a phone that really lives up to that "Pro" label. That means a more powerful processor than the one in the Pixel 5 and productivity-boosting features that make this phone more than just one that takes pictures (even if those pictures are the best you can get from a smartphone, as has been the case with other Google handsets).
Google's recent phones haven't really delivered long battery life — the Pixel 5 came just short of 9.5 hours on our battery test, while the Pixel 4a 5G held out for just 8 hours and 12 minutes. Those numbers don't match the average for smartphones, so we'd hope that a Pixel 5 Pro would do a better job with power management. As quickly as Google phones recharge, we'd like to see Google's phones come closer to the charge speeds that Samsung and OnePlus bring to their high-end flagships.
Finally, describing something as a Pro model suggests a level of polish and flare that have been lacking from the Pixel phones to date. The best you can say about the Pixel's design is that it's functional and doesn't get in the way of your picture taking or other mobile activities. We'd hope that the Pixel 5 Pro goes the extra mile with its design and gives us something that stands out from Google's other phones — assuming that there's an actual product that needs to stand out.