Google enters 5G market with two new Pixel phones

The new Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 phones are priced from $499-$699

The Pixel 5 smartphone is unveiled during the Google Launch Night In virtual event seen on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Alphabet's Google launched a pair of new Pixel phones with 5G: the Pixel 5, its new flagship model, and the Pixel 4a 5G, a version of its low-end device with faster cellular network speeds. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Google launched its first 5G-enabled smartphones targeting budget-conscious consumers as it competes for market share with Samsung and OnePlus in the fifth-generation handset segment.

Two new phones, the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a (5G), were launched during an online event on Wednesday evening. Pixel 4a was first unveiled in August, but without 5G capability.

Pixel 4a (5G) comes with with a 14.8 centimetre screen and costs $499. Pixel 5, which comes with a 15.2cm display, is priced at $699 – $100 lower than its predecessor Pixel 4's launch price in October last year.

With lower-priced 5G smartphones, the US technology giant is attempting to grow its consumer hardware business and attract new customers amid a global lull in smartphone sales.

“5G is the latest in mobile technology, bringing fast download and streaming speeds to users around the world,” Brian Rakowski, vice president of product management at Google, said.

“Whether you are downloading the latest movie, listening to your favourite music on Youtube, catching up on podcasts or playing a game, Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 will provide you with fast speeds,” added Mr Rakowski.

Pixel 5 comes with a battery capacity of 4,080 milliampere hours, while Pixel 4a (5G) has a battery of 3,140 mAh - biggest batteries Google has ever put in its smartphones.

The phones can last up to 48 hours with an extreme battery saver feature that pauses most apps and slows unwanted processes.

Industry analysts said it is unfortunate that Google's handset sales are still restricted to limited parts of the world and are not available in the Middle East.

"[That is] Part of the reason that Pixel line-up hasn't really picked up very well yet … they are not able to sell as many phones as they were hoping to," Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East, told The National.

“The new devices are nice but their focus is not necessarily on very high-end specs … you cannot compare them with flagship phones of other brands such as Samsung or OnePlus. They are more aligned with phones that cost Dh2,400 to 2,500 and from that perspective, they are very good phones,” added Mr Ali.

Google's price point is much lower than the premium models of its competitors, which can cost upwards of $750.

Lower-priced models such as Pixel 3a ($399) and Pixel 3a XL ($479), launched in May last year, have helped the company to increase its sales significantly in 2019.

Its shipments grew 52 per cent year-on-year to 7.2 million units last year, according to the International Data Corporation.

The Pixel 5 smartphone is displayed during the Google Launch Night In virtual event seen on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Alphabet's Google will launch a pair of new Pixel phones with 5G: the Pixel 5, its new flagship model, and the Pixel 4a 5G, a version of its low-end device with faster cellular network speeds. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

“Google continues to expand the Pixel portfolio and sales are growing. In 2019, shipments grew 52 per cent to reach the highest volume ever … with strong performances in the US, Western Europe and Japan,” Francisco Jeronimo, IDC’s associate vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said.

However, its sales still lag far behind market leaders and it is not among the top 10 brands. In comparison, Apple sold 74 million phones in the last quarter of 2019, while Samsung shipped 69 million.

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