Google Fi Pixel 4a subscription program doesn't include Google Fi

New smartphones come and go every year, and every year the prices for these phones also rise higher and higher. There will always be room for what many call "wallet-friendly" phones, especially if they come with tempting financing options. That is what Google's MVNO business is offering by letting you buy a Pixel 4a and a protection plan with a two-year monthly subscription. Ironically, that doesn't include a Google Fi cellular plan itself.

This is how the deal goes. When you apply for what Google Fi calls a phone subscription program, you will pay $15 per month for 24 months for a Pixel 4a. That means you pay a total of $360 after two years and then the phone is yours to keep when you upgrade. While it looks a little bit more than the Pixel 4a retail price of $349, you may actually be paying for less.

The actual payment for the phone costs only $9, which means you'll be paying only $216 overall, a $133 savings. The additional $6 is for an optional protection plan that lets you get a replacement or repair for accidental damages. It also covers device theft and loss except for those in New York.

There are some caveats to this seemingly generous offer. While the $6 per month protection plan is optional, it does mean you will have to cover the remaining subscription cost should something happen to your phone before the two years are over. More importantly, you can't game the system by canceling the subscription, thinking you'll only have to pay the $216 total. Cancel early and you'll have to pay the full $349 price.

More importantly, there is the hidden cost of actually subscribing to a Google Fi plan, something you need to do within 30 days of purchasing the phone subscription plan. If you're already a subscriber, though, the phone will just be added to your monthly bill. The offer is available only for the Pixel 4a and there doesn't seem to be any indication Google will expand it to the Pixel 5 or even the Pixel 4a 5G.