Elsewhere in the world, the Pixel 5 costs $599. In the US, the Pixel 5 is $699, and that is thanks to Verizon.
Google decided to go with a single Pixel 5 model in the US. One that supported mmWave and Sub-6 5G. Which meant that the price was going to be higher. To work on Verizon's 5G network, they had to include the mmWave module, which adds about $100 more to the retail price. That also means that those of us not on Verizon, are having to pay for this.
We know this because the Pixel 4a 5G for Verizon is $100 more than the regular Pixel 4a 5G, coming in at $599. The cost of the Pixel 5 in other countries.
The UK gets the cheaper, non-mmWave Pixel 5
As spotted by some Reddit users, it appears that the UK is getting a cheaper Pixel 5. One that does not have mmWave. And that shows us just how cheap the Pixel 5 could have been. It is £599 in the UK, because it does not have mmWave included. This is because Verizon is really the only carrier doing mmWave right now – others will do it later on, but most are focusing on Sub-6 5G first.
Google could have offered this same model in the US, but it decided not too. Likely to keep things from getting too confusing. But that didn't really work out like they had hoped. As now we're even more confused than ever.
This could also be why the Pixel 5 is releasing later in the US than in the rest of the world. The rest of the world gets the Pixel 5 on October 15, while the US gets it on October 29. And that is probably due to the fact that the US Pixel 5 is mmWave while the non-US model is not.
What is Sub-6 vs mmWave 5G?
Sub-6 5G is what almost every carrier is using right now. It's low-band and mid-band spectrum below 6GHz, that is being used for 5G. So T-Mobile for example is using 600MHz, 700MHz and Sprint's 2.5GHz for its 5G network. Which is why it is able to offer it nationwide, but the speeds aren't much better.
Verizon on the other hand is using mmWave. This is extremely high-band spectrum, that cannot penetrate buildings or even trees. And it only covers a few feet, versus miles for Sub-6. Which is why Verizon's 5G network is so spotty.
To realize the full 5G experience, carriers are going to be using both Sub-6 and mmWave for their 5G network. But for now, only Verizon is using mmWave. And is forcing everyone not on their network to pay the extra costs as well.