Last year, back before Google was conspicuously trying to cut costs in its phones, the Pixel 4 included a chip called the Pixel Neural Core. The special hardware ostensibly helped with a number of tasks like machine learning and always-on listening. But a look at the Pixel 5's spec sheet shows the Neural Core is nowhere to be found.

On the now-retired Pixel 4's official specifications page, under Processors, you can see the Pixel Neural Core listed. The spec sheets for the Pixel 5 (and Pixel 4a 5G, for that matter) don't include it. One of the chip's primary functions was to power the Pixel 4's IR face unlock, and considering the Pixel 5 nixed that feature, it's not entirely surprising to see it go. Still, Google's camera team told us last year that it was used in part in the Pixel 4's imaging pipeline — so it'll be interesting to see what, if any, effect the loss has on the Pixel 5's photo chops.

In a private Q&A session, the Pixel hardware team told Android Police that through optimization, it was able to get similar camera performance out of just the Pixel 5's Snapdragon 765G chip as it was the Pixel 4's Snapdragon 855-Neural Core combo, so it sounds like the omission is no great loss. We'll be sure to update this article with any additional information we receive.


In a short statement to us, Google officially confirmed what we already knew:

"Both new phones do not have Pixel Neural Core, or face unlock."

From what we know, it doesn't seem like this will affect camera quality, but we'll have to wait and see. The lack of face unlock will be particularly annoying for anyone coming from a Pixel 4 or 4 XL, since those phones did away with the fingerprint scanner altogether. After getting used to face unlock as the only form of biometric security, it'll be hard to go back. Who knows, Google may well bring back both of these features in a future device.