The Pixel 4 has almost all the staples of a late 2019 flagship phone except for two things. It strangely missed out on the Snapdragon 855+ but even more strangely skipped adding 5G support. For a company that lives and breathes the Internet and a major proponent of pushing communication technology forward, that is an almost glaring omission. It turns out, the tech giant isn’t at all impressed at the rollout of 5G networks in the very few countries that even have it.
It’s not that Google doesn’t see any value in 5G. On the contrary, it will be one those who will benefit the most from the exponential increase in data speeds. Especially considering it is about to launch its Stadia game streaming service, it should be looking towards improving the experience for gamers.
The problem, however, is that the rollout of 5G services is not only far from finished, it is also less than ideal. Network operators banking on the higher frequency mmWave need to distribute new hardware. While Sprint’s 2.5 GHz bet may have a better transition strategy, it will soon be busy with its merger with T-Mobile. Development is happening faster and more favorably outside the US, particularly in China, but that isn’t Google’s core audience as far as the Pixel phones go.
PCMag quoted Google VP of Product Management Brian Rakowski describing 5G as not yet ready for consumers. It is still pretty much a plaything for tech companies, equipment manufacturers, and network operators. It might not be until the second half of 2020 that 5G truly takes hold and, by then, the Pixel 5 may already be ready to debut.
Other manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei obviously don’t agree, but these two companies also have vested interests in developing the technology, particularly on the hardware side. They bill the phones as being future-proof but, given the pace of 5G rollout, that is still a distant future indeed.