Android 11 preview shows the Google Pixel 5 might have premium charging feature

Google Pixel 4
Google Pixel 4 (Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel 4 had annoying battery life issues, so much so that we had to mark it down for such in our review. It seems that the company is looking for even more ways to drain power in the Pixel 5, though, as a new leak sheds light on a charging feature we could see in the device.

This news comes from XDAdevelopers, off the back of an Android 11 developer beta opening up on Pixel devices. Apparently, hidden deep in the Android 11 menus there's a reference to a 'Battery share' mode, and the likelihood is this is Google's name for a reverse power-sharing feature.

Reverse power sharing, or reverse wireless charging, or bilateral charging, is a way of using a smartphone as a wireless charging pad to power up other devices like earbuds, watches, and even other phones.

A few smartphones have the feature so far, including the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S20 series, Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro, and Huawei P30 Pro, and the iPhone 11 was rumored to have it though the feature never materialized.

When we've tested the feature on these handsets, we've found it to be a huge power drain, and if the Google Pixel 5 is as much of a battery hog as the Pixel 4, this could be bad news for the device. We expect the company is working on lots of fixes for its phone's battery life, though.

The Android 11l 'Battery share' menu states 'Your phone's battery will run out faster when using battery share. Battery share works with compatible ear buds, watches, phones and more.' so it certainly seems like this is reference to power sharing. Could this also suggest the Google Pixel Watch is coming? Well, not really, but we'd hope so anyway.

Just because this feature was found in Android 11 code, doesn't mean it's necessarily going to come to all Android phones, as apparently the menu has a '' tag, whereas most features don't have the 'google' in there, suggesting the feature could only come to Pixel devices.

So it seems very likely that the Google Pixel 5 will be able to charge your other devices wirelessly, although the phone is still quite a while away so we can't say anything for definite. Before that the Google Pixel 4a is expected, which may also pose solutions to lots of the Pixel 4's problems.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.