Thinking about buying one of the new Pixel smartphones from Google? If you want the latest and best Android has to offer, they’re a good bet. But whatever you do, don’t buy a Pixel from Verizon.
Google’s Pixel smartphones are more expensive than previous Google Nexus devices, but they feature strong software and hardware integration, a promise of fast updates, and the artificially intelligent Google Assistant. They’re priced almost exactly the same as the iPhone and Samsung’s flagship devices, and it’s clear Google is vying to steal some of the pair’s customers.
It’s fairly easy to pre-order Google’s smartphones. All you need to do is head over to Google’s website, choose your model, and pay off the device in one payment, or 24 monthly ones. You’ll get the Pixel or Pixel XL unlocked — that means you can use it on a wide variety of carriers.
You may have seen advertisements from Verizon “introducing” the Pixel and the Pixel XL. The ads typically end with the tagline “Only on Verizon” — this is simply not true. When purchased through Google, the phone works on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Verizon is the only carrier Google has partnered with to sell the device online and in stores.
If you’re considering purchasing one of Google’s new phones from Verizon, here’s why you shouldn’t.
One of the main reasons for buying a Nexus smartphone is that updates — both security and Android versions — come straight from Google. That’s still one of the top features of the Pixel line, except that if you buy it through Verizon, Big Red will be in charge of issuing version updates.
“Monthly security updates will come from Google (for all models), and system updates will be managed by Verizon for Verizon models, and Google for unlocked models bought from Google Store,” a Google representative told 9to5Google.
You’ll still get security updates from Google, but don’t expect to get timely Android version updates. For example, the jump from Android 7.1 Nougat to Android O, or whatever’s next, may take months with a Verizon Pixel. Unlocked Pixel devices will get it immediately. The Verizon variant of the Samsung Galaxy S6 received Android 6.0 Marshmallow nearly 7 months after Google released the Android version.
Verizon isn’t the only carrier or manufacturer that has lagged behind in offering updates for Android smartphones — it’s a huge flaw in the operating system, and partially why Google released Nexus and Pixel devices itself.
Fast updates are important because each update brings security patches and new features to your phone. If you want the latest, greatest, and safest software, buy an unlocked Pixel from Google.
There will be three pre-installed non-Google apps on the smartphone: Verizon Messages, Go90, and My Verizon. All three apps should be uninstallable, but you could always purchase the device from Google and have it free of all bloatware.
Related: 14 devices, 6 years, 1 name: Revisiting every Google Nexus ever built
If you want these apps, they’re still available on the Play Store for download.
The average consumer may not care about this point as much as the others, but the Verizon variant of the Google Pixel smartphones will feature an encrypted, or locked bootloader. That means users will not be able to unlock it to root their smartphone — the Android equivalent of jailbreaking your iPhone.
Tech enthusiasts and tinkerers will care about this more, but it’s important to know in case you ever want to resell the device, or have thoughts about rooting your smartphone.
Google’s Pixel phones won’t come with HD Voice or Wi-Fi calling if you buy them through Google, and they may not be privy to Verizon deals if you’re only using the Google Store. You’ll still enjoy the device as well, but your phone’s software is safer in the hands of its creators.
Constant updates, the option to root or have it unlocked, and the lack of bloatware are enough reasons to choose the Google Store over Verizon. You can even get interest-free device financing options for the Pixels from Google, just like Verizon offers. What’s neat is that if you purchase the device from Google, you’re still able to use it on all carriers including Verizon.
Having the Pixel phones available at Verizon is a good thing for Google because it gets the search giants new devices into more peoples hands. There are even rumors floating that AT&T may get the Pixels within the first week of November as well. Regardless, Android is fragmented, and buying your device locked from a third-party isn’t going to help you get the most up-to-date software.
We highly recommend you buy the Pixel unlocked from Google so that you have a choice when it comes to the carrier you use and so that you’ll get important software updates before anyone else.