Google Pixel 5a release date, price, specs & cancellation rumours

Here’s everything we know so far.

When is the Pixel 5a release date?

The Pixel 4a launched in August, so one guess is that the 5a will follow in or around August 2021 – but for now that’s nothing more than a prediction.

It could instead launch in May 2021 at Google’s I/O conference – the 4a was originally supposed to arrive in May last year, but the event was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Unknown sources, via GSMArena, suggest the phone will launch on 11 June.

We know Google has been working on the 5a as 9to5Google acquired a document that appears to confirm the existence of the next model, codenamed ‘barbette’.

Infamous (but not always reliable) leaker Jon Prosser has confirmed that codename, with a slight spelling variation, but with the unexpected news that the phone has been scrapped due to the ongoing global chip shortage, which has caused delays and production problems in everything from phones to games consoles over the last year. 

Treat this is an unconfirmed for now though – Prosser has been wrong in the past and we haven’t yet seen any other sources confirm the 5a’s cancellation.

Interestingly, the document acquired by 9to5Google also refers to three other devices: ‘raven’, ‘oriole’ and ‘passport’, which are all listed for ‘Q4 2021’. Raven and Oriole are likely to be Pixel 6 models, while Passport is widely tipped to be a new foldable Pixel phone.

How much will the Pixel 5a cost?

It’s too early for any rumours, but we don’t think Google will stray far from the Pixel 4a price of £349/US$349.

Here are the prices of current and previous Pixels:

  • Pixel 4 – £669/$799
  • Pixel 4 XL – £829/$899
  • Pixel 3a – £399/$399
  • Pixel 4a – £349/$349
  • Pixel 4a 5G – £499/$499
  • Pixel 5 – £599/$699

What specs will the Pixel 5a have?

With a fairly radical design change for the 4a, we don’t think Google will do anything too drastic with the Pixel 5a.

And in fact, that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the first leaked renders of the phone from the usually reliable OnLeaks, which point to a phone that’s remarkably familiar – though interestingly is closest to the larger Pixel 4a 5G, rather than the regular 4a.

OnLeaks Pixel 5a

OnLeaks Pixel 5a

At 156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8mm it’s a very similar size to the 4a 5G (it’s a touch taller and thicker, though narrower across the front). Once again it has a flat display – reportedly a 6.2in FHD+ OLED, the same as the 4a 5G, and with similar a bezel.

Once again there’s a single punch-hole selfie camera, with a two-camera array on the rear – though specs here remain unknown. The source above providing the June launch date also suggests that Google will make the camera smaller than before. 

OnLeaks claims that the rear fingerprint sensor will also remain, as will a headphone jack and stereo speakers.

Pixel 5a OnLeaks

Pixel 5a OnLeaks

If you don’t trust renders, then some leaked photos apparently showing the Pixel 5a have arrived on Slashleaks, but we think they’re unlikely to be real. They only show the front with a ‘5a’ wallpaper – which could easily be mocked up – and there’s no sign of the punch-hole camera, which on other recent Pixels is in the top-left corner for taking selfies.

We’re also taking these with a large pinch of salt as the poster, Slavakov, has a trust rating of just 30%. It’s also odd that the phone seems to have the codename ‘starfish’ rather than the expected ‘barbette’ and the serial number of ‘0123456789ABCDEF’ is, well, unusual.

Pixel 5a leaked photos

Pixel 5a leaked photos

Pixel 5a wish list

What we would like to see are additions like wireless charging and waterproofing as these would make a bigger difference to the user experience. The iPhone SE has them, albeit at a higher cost so perhaps one, but not both is a realistic outlook.

There will almost certainly be an upgraded processor, likely another mid-range Qualcomm such as the Snapdragon 750G with decent RAM and storage as per the 4a. This could be good news for potential buyers, as the processor supports 5G, 120Hz refresh rates, 4K HDR recording and playback, plus a maximum of 12GB of RAM.

True, we don’t think the Pixel 5a will necessarily come with those features, but the processor means that any are possible if Google wants to bless their customers with some upgrades. We’re quite confident that at least the 5G capability will arrive in the new model. 

However, don’t expect Google to change its Apple-esque policy on expandable storage.

Camera tech will likely be one of the biggest lures for the Pixel 5a. Google has done a great job of offering a flagship camera at an affordable price. The big question is whether Google will add a secondary camera.

The Pixel 4 has a telephoto lens so that could be brought to the 5a if Google can make it work cost-wise.

The Tech Advisor team would prefer a wide-angle lens but we also wouldn’t be too surprised if Google sticks to a single lens to differentiate with its flagship phones.

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