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This week’s top stories: Pixel 5 not flagship, Google hindering Fire TV, new Chromecast Ultra, more

In this week’s top stories: the Pixel 5 is most likely not a “flagship” phone, Google won’t allow Android TV partners to make Fire TV devices, a new Android TV powered Chromecast Ultra is on the way, and more.

This fall’s Google Pixel 5 may not be the phone we originally expected, as evidence has come to light pointing to the upcoming Android phone using the lesser Snapdragon 765G chip instead of the flagship level Snapdragon 865. This should mean that Google, with the Pixel 5, is walking away from the current trend of top-tier Android phones being sold for close to or over $1000.

Android enthusiasts would no doubt be disappointed by this change, as Geekbench tests show that phones powered by the Snapdragon 765G score roughly 30-50% worse than comparable phones with the Snapdragon 865. Those same enthusiasts have been calling on Google year after year to release something of a “Pixel Ultra,” that combines the software and camera prowess of Pixel phones with extremely high end specs found on phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

An interesting bit of business news came out this week, when it was told that Google requires its Android TV partners to agree not to make devices that use a forked (or altered) version of Android TV. Consequently, those agreements directly stop those partner brands from making Fire TV products for Amazon, as Amazon’s Fire TV OS is forked from Android TV.

Clearly, this effort is working. Last year Google announced that 6 out of the top 10 TV makers globally were using Android TV and, as a result, not Amazon’s Fire TV. 1 out of every 10 smart TVs sold at the time, too, were running Android TV.

Our Stephen Hall shared an exciting scoop this week, revealing Google’s plans for a first-party Android TV device to be sold under the “Chromecast Ultra” name. The device, Google’s first Android TV hardware since 2014’s Nexus Player, will also be the first “Chromecast” device with a physical remote. According to recent FCC listings, the device could even be arriving soon.

The external remote will control the device, and resembles a cross between the Daydream View remote and an Apple TV remote. As is to be expected, the remote has a microphone and a dedicated Google Assistant button for controlling your content with your voice. The remote will also be programmable to your TV, we’re told.

In other Made by Google news, renowned leaker Evan Blass shared some advertisements for the Google Pixel 4a, which confirm the phone’s design. We also get a sneak peek at the mid-ranger’s feature set — including the “new” Google Assistant — but more importantly, the ads clearly show a potential $399 price tag for the Pixel 4a.

So what can we learn from this latest Pixel 4a leak? For one thing, this is our best look to date at the design of Google’s upcoming mid-ranger. The punch-hole display, square camera bump, and even the colors of the device are all on display here. Notably, the colors also line up closely with a previous leak that also claimed a blue variant was also in the works.

Finally, the CEO of OnePlus, Pete Lau took time to share that the smartphone maker is going “all in” on 5G this year. However, just like the Galaxy S20 series saw a sharp price increase due to 5G connectivity, OnePlus fans will also see prices go up. Thankfully, according to Lau, the baseline OnePlus 8 will still come in at an “accessible” price point.

Why are these prices going up in the first place? Lau explains that OnePlus has “always had a position in creating the best product possible at the best price point,” but that the technology needed for 5G “does add costs, so costs have risen in comparison to 4G products.” Looking back, the OnePlus 7 Pro cost about $600 when it first debuted, but the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G costs $840.

The rest of this week’s top stories follow:

Android |

Apps & Updates |

Chrome / OS |

Google |

Google Nest |

Google Pixel |

OnePlus |

Samsung |

Wearables |

Videos |

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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