Google hopes Pixel 5A, a midtier 5G phone, will lift sales despite limited availability

From CNET: Google on Tuesday unveiled its Pixel 5A, a $449 5G device the search giant hopes will lift sales of its struggling branded phone line. That goal, however, will be a challenge because the midtier phone will be available through limited channels and in just two countries, the US and Japan.

The new phone is part of Google's A series, a budget-conscious line that does away with the bells and whistles of flagship models, like the sleek Pixel 6 that was introduced earlier this month to compete with premium phones made by Apple and Samsung. Instead, the 5A will compete in a brutally competitive midtier market, occupied by the likes of OnePlus, Motorola and Samsung's A-series line.

Google's phone for the masses, however, won't be available to the masses. The Pixel 5A will be sold only in the US and Japan, which Google disclosed earlier this year. In the US, the phone will be sold through Google's online store, as well as its Google Fi wireless carrier. That marks a first for the search giant, which this year is ditching traditional carriers for sales of the A series. Last year's 4A, for example, was sold through Verizon. (The 5A will come unlocked and will work on all major networks, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.)

Google pinned the narrow release on the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused bottlenecks for key components industrywide. Earlier this year, false rumors even circulated that the Pixel 5A had been canceled altogether due to the constraints.

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