Allow me to take your mind off more pressing, serious matters for a moment to consider something of little global consequence here in the land of mobile tech. Any month now, Google will likely unveil its next self-made Android phone, the midrange Pixel 4a. And then, later this fall, we’re bound to see the next full-fledged, top-of-the-line Google flagship — the Pixel 5.

I’ve said before that the Pixel 4a has the potential to be Google’s most interesting phone of the year, much like the similarly ho-hum Pixel 3a proved to be the company’s most significant device of 2019. As I observed at the time of the 3a’s arrival, the most important announcements often aren’t the most exciting ones.

Well, now, a new set of observations suggests the Pixel 5 could actually have more in common with Google’s midrange phone line than you’d think. And as a result, the phone is suddenly accomplishing two seemingly conflicting things: It’s looking a lot less exciting to certain people — and looking a lot more interesting and potentially important to those of us focused on the bigger picture.

Let me explain.

Pixel philosophy

From the get-go, Google’s Pixel line has been about providing flagship-caliber, high-end Android experiences. The Pixel 3a forked that mission, of course, but the primary Pixel flagships have always been positioned — and priced — as top-tier, flagship-level phones.

Now, however, some discoveries deep in Google’s under-development code makes it look like the mission and the accompanying positioning of the Pixel brand may be making a subtle but significant shift.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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