Why Google Needs to Introduce a Google Pixel Pro

UPDATE: This blog post was written in the fall of 2020, long before any official announcement of ther Google Pixel 6 Pro. Since I moved my website recenrly to Stackbit, it was date stamped Dec. 24, 2021. I love the fact that I called this prediction. I'm pretty certain someone at Google didn't read my original blog post, but I'm proud of my clairvoyant predictive skills.

After five iterations of the Pixel line, one thing is clear: it's time for Google to give us the flagship smartphone/pro experience. Don't get me wrong. The Pixel 5 is a very good phone at a more digestible price point, however, I'm always left with the feeling that Google could give us more with the Pixel line.

Some would even use the word “underwhelming” to describe the Pixel 5. I would not go that far, but I think it's time for Google to introduce a new phone in their lineup: the Google Pixel Pro. One phone, the regular Pixel, would cater to the general masses who just want the standard Pixel experience at a good affordable price. Another phone, the Pixel Pro, would be a no holds barred premium smartphone experience worthy of the flagship designation. Even Apple, a company long known for simplicity of its product lines, has opted to provide a pro version of their iPhone 12.

I must be a clairvoyant. I believe it was during the 2017 IFA technology show in Berlin (the European counterpart to CES in Las Vegas) whereby strolling through Sony’s showroom, I noticed a confusing array of smartphones with equalling confusing model names: the Sony Xperia ZX1, XZ1, XA1 and every variation of the letters Z, X and A one can think of that I thought to myself...Sony should just do a complete reboot and call their flagship phone the Sony Xperia 1 and iterate every year from that. With the naming convention Sony adopted at the time, one simply did not know which Sony phone was the premium flagship, and which phone was the one for “everybody else”. Well, history has proven me correct. Sony did just that in 2019. Google should do the same with the Pixel line but with a slight twist: iterate using numbers but have a regular and pro version to satisfy both segments of the market.

No sooner than me unboxing the Pixel 5 and booting it up for the first time did I think the following: it would be nice if Google could produce a true flagship Pixel phone for someone like me, a self-proclaimed “power user”. This new Pixel Pro would have no compromises on build quality, speed, processing capabilities, and of course the signature feature of the Pixel line...the camera array and computational photography that has defined Pixels almost from the outset. Basically a new phone dubbed the Pixel Pro.

Current rumours are abound of a “Pixel 5 Pro” out in the wild with potentially an under the display front facing selfie cam. Of course, a pro version of a Pixel would also include an additional camera and sensor on the backside to bring the total number up to three: one wide angle, one standard focal length, and one telephoto. The three cameras combined with Google’s special sauce of computational photography would, I believe, make the Pixel photography experience unsurpassed and much more closer to pro level.

My current daily driver is the Sony Xperia 1 ii, but I also do own the Pixel 5, and I would love nothing more than a mashup of the two: a pro level Pixel that can offer me all the benefits of what I just described (a 3-camera system with the different focal ranges accessible with the touch of a button) combined with their software enhancements such as Night Sight and Portrait Mode. Of course, more RAM, more storage space with a microSD slot, and a quality audio DAC for audiophiles would be nice. Let’s not forget also to include a standard headphone jack. Some of us don’t care about wireless Bluetooth headsets.

It seems that Google has failed to satisfy both sets of phone users: those that are price conscious and desire a budget [but powerful] Google phone harkening back to the days of the Nexus line, and those that want an all out premium flagship Android experience in the form of a Pixel Pro. At $799 CAD, the Pixel 5 feels like it is $100-$150 too much for what you get.

A common complaint for years by many was that Pixel phones were both expensive (with a flagship price tag to match north of $1000) yet lacking in flagship features. By separating out the two different lines, Google would have a foot into each segment of the market: the budget/affordable and the premium flagship segments. Something like the regular Pixel and Pixel XL would be priced at $499 and $599 respectively while the Pixel Pro and Pixel Pro XL would be priced at $999 and $1099. Of course, the regular Pixel would come with some compromises to justify the lower price tag. To avoid cannibalization of the “a” series of Pixel phones (eg. Pixel 3a and 4a), if it were up to me, I would just drop this line entirely and make the regular Pixel phone “the phone for everybody else”.

OK Google ... am I just a dreamer or am I onto something here?