Google confirms the Pixel 5a is still coming this year
Google has reportedly canceled the Pixel 5a (codenamed Barbet), with sources placing the blame on the global chip shortage. The device was rumored to make its debut at Google’s I/O developer conference, which is scheduled to kick off in May.
The news was broken by Jon Prosser and later corroborated by Android Central. “‘Barbet’ (Pixel 5A) has been canceled,” Prosser Tweeted on Friday. “I’m told it’s due to the chip shortage, and as of this morning, it’s not moving forward.”
The Pixel 5a was expected to be similar to last year’s Pixel 5, but with lower specs and a more affordable price tag. Google has followed a similar release pattern for the last couple of generations, introducing the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G toward the end of last year. With the Pixel 5a allegedly canceled, Google is reportedly turning its attention to the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G.
If true, it’s a surprising development considering how much we know about the Pixel 5a. We’ve seen leaked renders of the device and have also learned some of its specs, which may have included a 6.2-inch OLED display, hole-punch design, and a size that closely matches the Pixel 4a.
The global chip shortage has been a major concern for smartphone manufacturers over the last several months. Recently, Xiaomi warned that the shortage could result in increased phone prices, while Samsung’s Galaxy Note is reportedly facing delays. It’s also said to be partly to blame for the painfully slow production of Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5.
While the Pixel 5a has reportedly been canceled, Google is still expected to launch new products this year. The search giant is expected to unveil more affordable wireless earbuds called Pixel Buds A. Meanwhile, it was recently reported Google is developing its own chip that will debut with the Pixel 6 this fall.
Update 1: Google says the Pixel 5a hasn’t been canceled
In a statement to Android Police, Google says that the “Pixel 5a 5G” has not been canceled and will, in fact, launch later this year in the U.S. and Japan around the same time the Pixel 4a was launched. Here’s the full statement given to the publication:
“Pixel 5a 5G is not cancelled. It will be available later this year in the U.S. and Japan and announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.”
What is interesting about this statement is that it confirms the Pixel 5a will come in a model with 5G support, unlike last year’s Pixel 4a. Whether or not there will be a 4G model is still up in the air, though. Furthermore, the launch of last year’s Pixel 4a was supposed to happen at Google I/O but was pushed back due to the event’s cancellation following COVID-19 pandemic concerns. If Google launches this year’s model on a timeframe “in line with” when the Pixel 4a was launched, then we may not see the phone at this year’s virtual Google I/O. Given the A-series growing importance to the Pixel line, we wouldn’t be surprised to see its launch be decoupled from Google’s bigger developer conference.
One other interesting tidbit from the statement is the limited confirmation of which countries the phone will be available in. Google only says the U.S. and Japan but doesn’t mention Europe or India. It’s possible the phone may have been canceled in many markets due to the ongoing global chip shortage, which might explain the discrepancy between Prosser and Android Central‘s leak and Google’s statement.