The Google Pixel couldn’t win at the high end, but the midrange isn’t any easier

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