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Google Pixel 5a price leak makes the phone look like a bad deal

Google Pixel 5a front and back main image
(Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer/Voice)

We may see Google Pixel 5a at some point this month — perhaps today (Aug. 17) according to one rumor — but that hasn't stopped one last leak from revealing the phone's price. That price may be a fair one based on the phone's rumored features, but Google's perhaps pushed it a little too high.

The apparent cost of Google's new mid-range phone was found on ads for Google Fi mobile network (via srwaxalot on the GoogleFi subreddit and 9to5Google).  We've previously heard that the Pixel 5a could be revealed today, so even though this banner being published is still an accident, it would make sense if it was sent live just a little too early.

The phone's full name is given as the Pixel 5a (5G), which confirms the widely-held expectation that this phone would be more of a successor to the Pixel 4a 5G than the LTE-based Pixel 4a. However that seems to also apply to pricing too.

Google Pixel 5a Google Fi leak

(Image credit: srwaxalot via r/GoogleFi)

The advert boasts that users can save $233 if they pay $15 a month for two years with their Pixel 5a contract. That comes to $360 altogether, which when combined with the promised saving costs $599. Take off the expected added cost of Google's included Device Protection policy ($6 a month, $144 total) from that number, and you end up with a price of $449.

Cheap, but also too expensive

At $450, the Pixel 5a would be $100 more than the Pixel 4a, but $50 cheaper than the Pixel 4a 5G, the phone that the Pixel 5a is thought to borrow most of its features from. Compared to rival phones, that's $50 more than the cheapest iPhone SE and $50 less than the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G.

If $449 is actually the price of the Pixel 5a, then it means the phone's slightly too expensive to be on our best cheap phones list. (We cut off contenders at $400.) While phone contracts can make small price differences between devices irrelevant due to monthly payments, Google's decision to offer one, higher-priced budget model this year still disappoints because it's rumored that the Pixel 5a's not that different from the Pixel 4a 5G.

No doubt the Pixel 5a will still work smoothly with an unblemished version of Android, and offer excellent normal and ultrawide photography. However using the same display, frame, and camera sensors, as is rumored, would be a big disappointment. Although the worst part would be the fact we're expecting Google to use the same year-old Snapdragon 765G chip in the Pixel 5a. Sure the performance won't get worse, but it'll mean the performance gap between it and its rivals will only widen going forward.

Fortunately there's one big upgrade that's been rumored along with the August 17 release date — a 4,860mAh battery, much larger than any previous Pixel cell. While processing power is important for phones, Google could still win over customers by offering fantastic battery life. We'll have to wait until we can test the new phone — and for the phone to be released, of course — to see if that's the case though.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.