So you want faster, but dont care about millimeter wave (unless you live in a large city and are outdoors in it because, I remind you, the shorter the wavelength the less it will penetrate common building materials then you dont really care about that -- at least not for the next few years.)

You dont like the idea of $1,000 phones either.  Frankly, if youre willing to drop that sort of money on a device its a status symbol, not a phone or communications device.  I get it, some people are into showing off how much money and bling they have.  This is not your device.

You want or need more than 128Gb of storage.  Sorry, not you again.  Why?  No SD slot and theres 128gb on board.  To be fair thats quite a lot; enough for a crap of music and similar, so its probably fine for 99% of the people out there.  Google has never put SD slots in their phones; they want you to clown, er, cloud everything.  IMHO 128Gb is enough to not do that and still be reasonably happy.

I will say this: This device is right on the edge of acceptable in terms of size for me.  I do not like large devices.  I gave away my LG V20 to my kid on that basis; it was just too damn big.  Great phone, but....

In terms of comparison it is a bit larger than my 4a.  But what you get for the size is a much bigger battery; roughly 46% larger. That is likely worth it, simply from a runtime point of view, not that the 4a was any slouch (it wasnt.)  You do notice it in terms of heft.

As is common practice these days theres no case in the box.  Buy one, even a cheap bumper case.  Yeah, its a $500 phone (with tax), not a $1,000+ one, but if you drop it I assure you it will break if unprotected.

It also has Ip64 (NOT Ip67, which allegedly is good for immersion for up to 1 meter) water and dust protection; the 4a had none.  Thats not proof against dunking it in the pool, lake or (god forbid) salt water immersion, but getting caught with it in your pocket in a fairly significant rainstorm shouldnt be a problem as that rating means protected from water spray and dust (but not under pressure) from any direction.  Thats nice.  I havent destroyed a phone with water intrusion in a very long time, but some people do on a regular basis.  This is at least moderately resistant to that outcome -- if you spill your beer on the phone it should be fine.

RAM is 6Gb, which today is considered moderate.  I had no issues.

The cameras are typical Pixel and excellent; the 5a/5g adds a second shooter (wide-angle, 0.6x) to the back.  No complaints there.  If you want a real camera then bring one; no phone will ever match or beat even a relatively inexpensive dSLR, so there you go.

It has a 3.5mm headphone jack.  Most devices today have gotten rid of it.  A mistake, if you like good-quality audio IMHO.  It wont matter if your primary audio use is bluetooth but, again, quality... yeah.

The screen is nearly-full coverage with a small hole punch in the top left for the front-facing selfie cam, and OLED.  Brightest, most-saturated, that sort of thing?  No.  But very serviceable and nice?  Yes.  Im satisfied; it also has a bit wider aspect ratio in normal mode than the 4a, which for some apps will mean they display two columns instead of one, etc.

The brightness auto-adjust is, as is usual, wonky when you first get it.  Perfectly fine in moderate and bright conditions but it turns it down way too far in a dim room.  It does learn when corrected, however, as it has on all previous Pixel devices.  Expect a few days of teaching it before it behaves reasonably in lower-light conditions.  Its bright enough to use outdoors in full sun, but as with every phone Ive ever used bright enough is just that.  Being OLED rather than IPS the brighter you run it the more battery it consumes and its not a small difference either.

Speaker volume appears to be significantly louder than my 4a at maximum.  Probably wont mean much to most people, for a few it might.  Its not fill the room loud nor high-fidelity, but for hearing notifications it does the job as expected and should be plenty adequate for most speakerphone use.  Bluetooth audio pairing with my vehicle and running headphones both work as expected.

The crossover setup feature, if you have another Android device, works well as it has for quite a long time.  The only exception is as for all other previous versions; it does not copy anything sideloaded since it goes to Google Play to get the apps once the data copy is complete.  As a result if you have sideloaded things (I do) you need to reload them manually, but thats always been true.

The bands supported are full-featured, which is of course nice as well.  RF performance is typical Pixel, which means very good to excellent.  Around my place the 5g performance is stunning; 200Mbps has been reached in tests with often seeing half that as upload speeds.  Thats as-fast as my cable connection at the house -- on a handset!  Now granted, where I live there are likely very few people on 5g capable handsets right now, but even so, thats extraordinary real-world (not theoretical maximum) performance and way beyond what you could possibly exploit on a handset.  If tethered thats an entirely-different situation, of course, but to a laptop on 5Ghz (which it supports) itll be plenty-fast and very difficult to differentiate between cellular and a cable link for all but the most hard-core user.  The biggest issue tethering will be that youll blow through your before throttling data allocation quickly if youre imprudent with it.

Is there a reason to buy this if you have a Pixel 4a?  Maybe not.  LTE is pretty darn fast provided you dont run into network congestion; does 5g offer you that much -- or even anything perceptible -- on the handset?  Probably not, unless you use tethering and have enough data allocation to not hit the throttling or hard cap limits.  So the real advantage if you have a 4a or similar-class device is the monster battery.  Thats not a small advantage, and if you add Accubattery and tell it to ding you at 80% youll find that even a year or so in youve probably lost no capacity either.  Endurance is a big deal for most of us and having to run around and charge sucks.  That, by itself, may be enough for some people to buy it.

The storage (128Gb) is the same as the previous series -- if you have a 4a.  If you have the 3-series then its a double and that makes a difference.  Would I consider doing so in that case?  Yes, for that reason alone.  If you need more than it has none of the Pixels will ever be your device since Google intentionally wants you to use their cloud and thus has never included an SD card slot.

Water resistance is a nice plus but I wouldnt buy a phone for that purpose.  Now if you drown yours, well, then its a no-brainer since a 4a class (or 3 and before) phone has no water resistance and this one does.  Easy win.  Just dont expect to drop it in a pool or similar and have it survive; its not rated for that.

None of these Pixel devices have wireless charging.  Do I care?  Not really; Ive yet to find a modern phone that charges fast enough on wireless for it to be other than a gimmick except on long trips if you build a modified car cradle.  How many of you will?  Yep, thats none, and by the way, using wireless charging as a keep it topped off pad is a very bad idea when it comes to battery life.

Size matters.  For some people the 5a/5g is just too big.  On the other hand if its not then it isnt, and this is a very personal thing that has a lot to do with where you carry the phone.  If its in a front pocket and you like your jeans tight, well, not so good.  It is marginally larger than the 4a, but not by a great deal, and as I said it just gets inside my too big and a pain in the ass threshold.

Do you need a crashbox/case/similar for it?  Absolutely.  Dont be stupid.  $10 worth of protection is not only foolish to forego its downright penny-pinching with potentially-disastrous consequences.  The screen is proud of the frame by a mm or so and the camera hump on back is also proud of the frame.  You will damage either or both without protection, as with most phones if you drop it without one.  Case it -- period.

Remember, it is Android, for good and bad.  Yes, its the Googleplex.  You can shut most but not all of the Google intrusions off, but others are simply not avoidable.  You absolutely want to put Tasker or similar on the device and configure it to get the maximum available privacy protection -- but do understand its by no means perfect, and thats the price of Googles app integration and Play Store for various useful things.  BTW if you think Apple is better they are not so dont be a fool and do things that can/will get you busted, nor should you ever rely on the security of screen locks and similar.  Against someone who steals the phone its probably adequate to keep them out.  Against the cops (of any description) forget it.  Thats not specific to this device; it is true of all modern cellular devices.

Overall:  Recommended; a decent price-point and, for the capabilities received, the result is a price:performance winner, and not by a little.

Disclaimer: I never accept paid review requests.  I will review products where I am given the product with no strings attached prior to writing it, but only if disclosed.  In this case, as with most reviews posted on The Market Ticker, I bought the product in question with my own money on the open market with no special considerations and the manufacturer was unaware of my intention to review it prior to publication.

This is only about the 5th or 6th time Ive written something similar to this.  Then again I lived on the Gulf Coast, directly on the water, for 20 years.  That gives me more than enough direct knowledge of what these spinny little ******* things are -- and what you can and cant do about them.

I got hit in the face, basically, with Ivan and was paying plenty of attention to Michael, to name just two.

Heres the thing about hurricanes: If its between June and approximately November, theres always a risk.  The risk is a bell curve.  The period of time approximating now to the end of September is where the highest risk is for both storms and intense hurricanes.  If you take a vacation from such a location of residence during the last two week of August to the first two weeks of October I hope you either made preps before you left, know someone who can prep your property for you in your absence or are willing and able to abort the trip on short notice and get home to do it yourself.

But lets talk about short notice eh?

These things are not tornadoes, which strike with seconds of warning in many cases.  You get days of warning.  In this case by Friday we knew someone was going to get plastered in the Gulf by a storm and in fact on Thursday morning I posted Someones gonna get it in The Bar on my forum saying exactly that, and that anyone from roughly mid-Texas to Tallahassee ought to be prepared for it to potentially get them.

Thats four days of warning.  If you live below sea level (e.g. your residence is below sea level, or any part of where you live is materially below the potential for a nasty surge hit, which means less than 10 above sea level) or you live in something that is likely to be damaged or destroyed by a hurricane then on Thursday you should have completed your assessment of risk and decided what course(s) of action you had available and executed on same.

You can walk out of the zone of danger from New Orleans in four days.  You can also take a bus, or a private car.  Many parts of New Orleans are a worst-case scenario for such a storm because they are below sea level, protected by levees (which may or may not hold) and large pumps to dewater what comes in via either overtopping or rainfall.  You live in a damned bathtub and if the drain gets plugged up youre ****ed.  This isnt news to anyone who lives there.

If you start to get out and the storm goes a different way, well, you can turn around!  But it doesnt look like its going to, does it?  In fact the angle of approach really couldnt be too much worse, but then again very small deviations can make a huge difference in outcomes.  In addition a lot has to do with size too; Ivan was a big hurricane (diameter-wise) while Dennis was a tiny thing and thus while formally a nastier storm, came in with a closer landfall to my house and yet.... it rained and was a bit windy where I lived.  Ivan, on the other hand, was a nasty bastard and screwed plenty of people in the same immediate area.  Ida, on that basis, is no Katrina; its a much smaller storm -- but plenty intense to screw you if youre in the wrong place.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth will commence with this storm in the next couple of days Im sure.  It shouldnt.  The government is no more rational in being prepared for this than they were for Covid, and their actions both before and afterward will be no more rational either.  Did you learn anything from Katrina?  Formaldehyde-steeped FEMA-provided trailers, anyone?

Gee, theres no reason to think the government would ever do something like that, right?

Except they did, so why would you ever believe thats a one-off?

Folks, I dont live in Hurricane Central anymore, but I did for 20 years.  I moved there knowing what the risk was, and assumed that the government at all levels was going to **** things up every single time there was a storm.  If I got pleasantly surprised, so be it.  There were a few times I was; after Ivan our power was back on in about 18 hours, which was stunningly fast.  Parts of Destin, which I could see out my back windows were off for two weeks.  It was sort of neat looking out that window at night in my nice cool A/Cd home as the darkness slowly and spottily lit back up over there.  Of course if you had one of those houses, well, your A/C probably wasnt working so good.

Never, ever rely on government to do the right thing.

And no, Glo-Bull Warming isnt making these things worse.  Camille anyone?  That was a 900mb monster.  Or, if you prefer, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, both of which wildly pre-dated the Glo-bull warming scaremongering bull**** and both of which were hideous, monstrous storms.

Whats changed and why does it seem the hits are worse?  More people living close to the water where hurricanes strike -- which is a personal choice, I remind you.

Figure out your personal risk and attend to it, then stop going ape**** every time something appears to be headed your way whatever branch of Mother Nature (who is known as Mother for a reason -- typically with a four-letter word immediately following) serves up to you, be it a storm or a virus.

Youll sleep better, youll live longer and better and your stress level will be a LOT lower.

Telling the highest court in the land that you are going to do something you believe is illegal doesnt usually end well.

It didnt this time.

It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened. Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination.

Yep.

And just as occurred in Kentucky the premise of a unitary executive decision got thrown in the ash-can where it belongs.

This is also a clear warning to any attempt to impose any sort of national mandate -- for a vaccine or otherwise.  Yes, the CDC and the government have the authority to quarantine actual infected people.  But, as the Supreme Court made clear that cannot be speculative, exactly as was the case for the eviction moratorium.  That someone might have Covid-19, and might cross a state line as a consequence of being evicted does not pass the statutory test which limits authority to actual, provable harm -- not speculative risk of a future event.

Pay heed Governors, Mayors and yes, the CDC and Biden.

You lost.

Twice.

The limit of the law is clear.

Now shut the **** up and sit down.

PS: Watch the /NAD part of the forum over the next few days.  The data is shifting, as expected and even Justice Breyer, who dissented, managed to through his own stupidity out whats going to happen -- because it already is.  Oops.

Yeah, itll never get commercially distributed as I made that decision a number of years ago, and have published multiple articles on why I will take this one to my grave with me.

But let me tell ya -- sometimes, as a coder, you just sort of scratch your head.

This was one of them.

The codebase that runs the house here hasnt been updated since I bought the place; thats about a year and a half.  No real reason to; its been working just fine.  But, I decided Id go ahead and roll forward the OS version in question.

So I grab my test box (to boot the new one and make sure it works), do the cross-build (the target is an ARM processor), stick the resulting SD card in the test machine and..... it doesnt boot.

Wait.... wut?

So off I go to find that the upstream U-Boot was updated and it renumbered the MMC slots, putting the SD card outside of the ones checked for a bootable operating system.  Sort of like the old-style DOS machines that could boot two drives; you could attach more disks, but only one of the first two could boot.

How long has this been undetected in said upstream?  A couple of months!  Who the hell is checking this stuff?  Nobody, apparently.  Thanks guys.

So I put the older u-boot code back and now it starts and then fails to boot again.  Some more head-scratching ensues and I remember that between 12.0 and 12.2 this bit me on AMD64 code too as the OS folks stopped updating the old Boot1 style loader for EFI and thus it could not identify a bootable partition.  That one was not hard to fix; find the loader that is being kept up to date in the object tree and make sure that gets copied into the EFI partition so it gets loaded.

Ah, now the OS boots and runs.  All done, right?

Not quite.

The various battery-powered sensors I have around the house do not fully initialize on a cold start for about an hour, because they have to check in; theyre not listening all the time for battery consumption reasons, so you cant poll them until they do check in.  The first time they check in the system is unaware of all their capabilities so it has to perform a series of queries and set the devices configuration.  By the time it has done this the unit has probably gone back to sleep, so it requires two intervals before you get good data.  Not a big deal and these units do immediately respond to stimulus (e.g. motion detectors); its just the periodic reporting of things like temperature that dont get added into the stack of maintenance requests until the system has the manufacturer-specific ID and thus knows exactly what the device is (and can do.)

Well, about an hour later its 85F outside, the outside temperature sensors have checked in and the HVAC system goes into heating mode.  It doesnt heat, obviously, as the setpoint is way below the room temperature but..... what the ****?

Putting that particular event test in debugging mode (where it logs everything as it performs the tests) says that...... the ambient test for outside temperature < 55F indeed passed.  Uh, how, given that said sensor is reporting 85.6F?

Much head-scratching ensues along with code-staring.

I did find and fix it -- a dangling (not properly initialized) result variable in one of the test stanzas which then propagated through the tests and, since it was True thats what came back even though it wasnt.

For how long has this code been there and run perfectly-well in this state?  I looked back at the git log: I hadnt touched this section of the software for more than three years!

File it away as old bug but one that never stung me before.

Yeah, you think you didnt miss anything.... and most of the time youre right.  This one time, however, well.....

Such is the life of a coder.... 

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