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Forget the Pixel 5, Google hints at a true Pixel flagship in 2021

Pixel 5
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Google's Pixel 5 has been generally well-received, our reviewer gave it high marks for its stellar photography, battery life and pure Android 11 with a bit of extra Pixel software goodness sprinkled on top. However, it is clearly a more budget-minded device with a mid-tier processor and no advances in the camera hardware, something that caused me to wish Google would make a true flagship.

Well, it sounds like I might just get that wish. During the Q3 2020 earnings call, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai responded to a question regarding the company's more mid- to low-end hardware strategy this year, saying that "We are doing some deeper investments in hardware, some of it takes 2-3 years to come together."

Critically we aren't talking about investments just made last year as Pichai followed that up by saying, "Next year you will see us lean more into... some of our deeper investments will come into play there."

He halted a bit in the middle of that statement, possibly not wanting to offer any hard information regarding what the company has planned, but he had proceeded that with: "We have definitely shown that Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 are a clear value proposition. We'll build on that."

Back in April, Axios broke the news that Google was working on its own chip, designed in partnership with Samsung. The chip, which is code-named Whitechapel, will allegedly be based on Samsung's 5nm process and feature an 8-core ARM processor and specific hardware optimizations for Google's machine learning. That mirrors much of what Apple has done with the A14 Bionic.

Of course, iPhone 12 benchmarks have proven that no one else can touch its performance, but this could potentially bring Google into the same ballpark again. 

Oft accurate leaker Max Weinbach recently offered that he had heard multiple rumors of a March 2021 launch for a new flagship Pixel, but he was quick to say that these were unsubstantiated and he was digging deeper. Previous leaks from documents obtained by 9to5Google had suggested that there would be no new Google smartphones until Q3 or Q4 of 2021, with the possibility of a foldable Pixel as well.

Google has laid the groundwork for a strong Pixel presence in the more affordable smartphone space in 2020 and that is a valuable piece of the market that Google will seek to maintain in 2021, but it appears they may not be quite ready to wave the white flag on the flagship smartphone market just yet.