Google unveiled its Pixel 5 phone Wednesday, and there’s a lot to unpack. Right off the bat, it doesn’t have the latest Snapdragon processor, it doesn’t have a 1440p display, and it dumps the vaunted Soli radar that powered Motion Sense and Face Unlock. But there are a few other tidbits we’ve learned since the Launch Night in event that you might have missed:
It doesn’t have any Pixel-specific chips
One of the reasons why the Pixel phones have such great cameras is because of their tremendous on-device AI abilities. On previous phones, that was due to specialized co-processors that work with the main chip to quickly process AI-related tasks. On the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, the Pixel Visual Core handled those tasks, while the Pixel 4 introduced the Pixel Neural Core for handling photo processing, live transcriptions, and the new Google Assistant.
But on the Pixel 5, you won’t find any homegrown chips to handle AI tasks. Google told Android Police that “through optimization, it was able to get similar camera performance out of just the Pixel 5’s Snapdragon 765G chip as it was the Pixel 4’s Snapdragon 855-Neural Core combo.” It remains to be seen whether there will be any material impact in AI speed on the Pixel 5.
It’s not entirely made of aluminum
One of the upgrades Google listed for the Pixel 5 over the 4a 5G is the use of “100 percent recycled aluminum” on the back, rather than plastic. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Pixel 5 includes both wireless and reverse wireless charging, which is impossible to achieve through metal without bending the laws of physics.
What Google did was add a non-aluminum window that will transmit a charging signal. Then, as Android Police reports, it coated the whole back of the phone in a ”biocoat resin” to mimic the feel of a unibody aluminum enclosure. Your eyes and fingers probably won’t know the difference, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for flaking and finickiness.
The exclusive new features aren’t really exclusive
With every new Pixel phone comes a raft of new features that tap into AI to make our lives easier. The Pixel 5 is no different. Along with a few new camera tricks, it also has two very cool features that blow away anything you’ll find on any other Android phone: Extreme Battery Saver, which can help your phone last “up to 48 hours,” and Hold For Me, which tasks Google Assistant with listening to awful hold music until someone picks up.
These features are exclusive to both the Pixel 5 and 4a, but they won’t be exclusive for very long. Google has said the features are also coming to older Pixel phones. We’re not sure when or which models will get it, but we suspect the December Pixel Feature Drop will deliver them just in time for the holidays. We’re not mad at Google for bringing features to older devices, but it’s one more reason to skip out on picking up a Pixel 5 this year.
Active Edge is gone
This one probably won’t upset too many people, but for the first time since the original Pixel launched in 2016, you can’t squeeze the sides of your phone to activate Google Assistant. We kind of assumed this would be the case after Google dumped the feature on the Pixel 4a earlier this summer, but if you liked to quickly summon Google Assistant without asking or swiping, you’re out of luck.
You’ll need to pay more if you want it quicker
Google might have cut the price of the Pixel 5 as compared to the Pixel 4, but you won’t pay any less to get it quicker, even if you preorder. If you buy a Pixel 5, you’ll have an option to get it with free shipping, priority shipping for $14, or expedited shipping for $19. The quoted days are only a day earlier, so it’s definitely not worth it, but we’re a little perplexed why Google isn’t sending all preorders out at the same time for free, like, you know, every other company.
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Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.