Today, Google will announce the Pixel 5 and 4A 5G. Well, not so much “announce” as launch, since the company already told us these phones were coming when it announced the Pixel 4A in early August. We know what to expect because these phones have leaked every which way but Sunday. And Google has already told us what the Pixel 4A 5G will cost, too: $499.
About the only thing that isn’t widely confirmed as of this writing (late last night) is the pricing for the Pixel 5. There are strong rumors that it will clock in at $699, which lines up with the big takeaway I expect to come away with today. That would be this: Google is retrenching into the midrange this year instead of directly trying to compete with the flagships from Apple and Samsung.
Moving down in price would be more true to what the Pixel is. But when it comes to Pixel hardware, no good deed goes unpunished. The midrange market Google is presumably headed towards has recently filled up with competitors that either beat the Pixel 5’s rumored price, beat it on rumored specs, or both.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is sitting on my desk right now and after just a couple of days I can already say it’s a very good deal for $699. The OnePlus 8 regularly sells for $599 these days and its cheaper Nord phone is also likely to come to the US in some configuration. Plus, of course, the iPhone 11 is $699 and it’s likely that there will be a new iPhone in the same price class soon enough.
Even so, it’s a smart move to head into the midrange. Expectations of perfection in every category are lower and frankly I don’t think there’s as much appetite for ultra-premium phones and their ultra-high price tags right now. Besides, Google has struggled to credibly compete in the flagship market, where phones cost well over a thousand bucks and are packed with every spec and feature you can think of.
The Pixel line has also never credibly competed with the sales numbers we see from the top-tier Galaxy phones and iPhones in the US. Google has done much better with the Pixel 3A and presumably is doing well with the Pixel 4A, but it still isn’t making a dent in the market.
IDC analyst and associate VP Francisco Jeronimo estimates that Google sold about 7.2 million Pixel phones in 2019. 7.2 million phones is a drop in the bucket in global smartphone sales, and yet he reports it was a 52 percent year-over-year increase on the strength of the Pixel 3A and expanded markets.
. @Google continues to expand the #Pixel portfolio and sales are growing. In 2019 shipments grew 52% YoY to reach the highest volume ever, with strong performances in the USA, Western Europe and Japan. It now ships more units than @oneplus but it is still far from reaching Top10 pic.twitter.com/qY66isF9vN
— Francisco Jeronimo (@fjeronimo) June 9, 2020
When you’re trying to decide which smartphone to buy, I don’t think you should care about how many units are sold just like I don’t care about the stock price. Market share only matters insofar as its an indication of two things: the availability of accessories like cases and the likelihood you’ll get support when you need it. In both cases, I think it’s…