Google Pixel 5Source: Google

What you need to know

  • The unlocked Pixel 5 in the U.S. comes with both Sub-6 and mmWave 5G connectivity.
  • There's a $100 difference between the Pixel 4a 5G with Sub-6 and the Verizon model with Sub-6 and mmWave.
  • Google sells a Pixel 5 that's limited to Sub-6 5G in the UK, and that variant could have potentially retailed for $599 in the U.S.

The Google Pixel 5 is now official, and you can pre-order the phone for $699 from Amazon. Google revealed that it made a few concessions with the Pixel 5 to be able to hit the $699 retail figure — including using a Snapdragon 765G chipset instead of the Snapdragon 865 — but it now looks like Google could have easily sold the phone for $599 in the U.S.

The Pixel 5 that's sold in the U.S. comes with 5G connectivity over both Sub-6 and mmWave bands, with the mmWave module in itself estimated to add $100 to the retail price of the device. Google also introduced the Pixel 4a 5G alongside the Pixel 5, and that device comes in two models in the U.S.: an unlocked variant with model number G025E that retails for $499, and a Verizon model with mmWave connectivity (model number G6QU3) that is available for $599 — $100 more than the unlocked version.

VPN Deals: Lifetime license for $16, monthly plans at $1 & more

The $100 difference between the unlocked and Verizon models of the Pixel 4a 5G is entirely down to mmWave connectivity. Here's the puzzling part: Google is selling a single variant of the Pixel 5 in the U.S. with Sub-6 and mmWave connectivity (model number GD1YQ), and because the unlocked model also has mmWave 5G bands, it retails for $699. Google could have used the same strategy as the Pixel 4a 5G and offered an unlocked Pixel 5 with Sub-6 connectivity for $599 and a Verizon model with mmWave for $699, but that's not the case.

Google sells a Pixel 5 with just Sub-6 5G connectivity, but that model is not available in the U.S.

What makes this particularly irritating is that Google does sell a Pixel 5 model with just Sub-6 connectivity. As spotted by eagle-eyed Reddit users, the Pixel 5 variant that's sold in the UK (model number GTT9Q) is limited to Sub-6 5G connectivity and doesn't have mmWave bands. Google could have offered the same model in the U.S. as the unlocked option for $599, but it chose not to do so.

Sub-6 connectivity consists of low-band and mid-band frequencies at under 6GHz, while mmWave covers frequencies over 24GHz. Sub-6 5G is designed for long-range connectivity, while mmWave is aimed at delivering better bandwidth in dense urban environments. T-Mobile has leverage Sub-6 connectivity for its 5G deployment, with Verizon instead using mmWave.

Most 5G-enabled phones come with Sub-6 as standard, with mmWave limited to high-end devices or carrier models. It wouldn't have taken a lot of work for Google to offer two models of the Pixel 5 in the U.S., just like it does with the Pixel 4a 5G. But because it chose not to do so, you'll have to shell out $699 instead of $599 for the phone even if you don't care about 5G connectivity on Verizon. Google got a lot right with the Pixel 5, but it was a misstep to not launch a version with just Sub-6 for $599 in the U.S.

The new hotness

Google Pixel 5 render

Google Pixel 5

Everything you need

The Pixel 5 comes with a 90Hz OLED panel, exciting internal hardware with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 5G connectivity, all-day battery life with 18W fast charging and 15W wireless charging, and stereo sound. Add an outstanding camera with a rear wide-angle lens, clean software with three Android updates, and you get one of the best phones of the year.

Have you listened to this week's Android Central Podcast?

Android Central

Every week, the Android Central Podcast brings you the latest tech news, analysis and hot takes, with familiar co-hosts and special guests.

  • Subscribe in Pocket Casts: Audio
  • Subscribe in Spotify: Audio
  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.