Assuming Google Ties the Pixel Phones to Verizon, I'd Assume Higher Prices Too


The sample size is small, but each time that Verizon has carried any of Google’s phones, the price hasn’t been one of the selling points. Should Verizon once again get the opportunity to sell Google’s phones this year – the Pixel and Pixel XL – I hope you aren’t expecting anything less than top tier pricing in the range of an iPhone or Galaxy S. 

Earlier today, we first floated the idea on Twitter that Verizon may get a carrier exclusive on the Pixel phone (we aren’t sure about the XL; also we are fully expecting unlocked sales through the Google Store) here in the US. Yes, the idea arrived from a reliable source and is already being backed up by the folks at Android Police (here too). They are also under the impression that the Pixel phone (the smaller “sailfish”) will start at around $649 off contract, though you should expect financing to be available. You should not be shocked by that news.

If you take a step back through time, this is the type of pricing that accompanies a Google phone launch with Big Red. Take for example the Galaxy Nexus, the first Nexus to sell through Verizon. It was priced at $299 on-contract, which was quite high for the time, and somewhere around $650 without one. It’s brother, the unlocked Galaxy Nexus (the non-LTE version) started at $399 and quickly dropped to $349. Sure, it lacked the LTE radio of the Verizon variant, but are we really buying into even the earliest LTE radios adding $300 in value to a phone or do with think this was a carrier-influenced decision?

The other example we have of Verizon selling a Google phone came two years ago with the Nexus 6. While a whale, the phone was a typical Nexus with solid specs, yet it wiped out a couple of years worth of value-driven pricing for Nexus phones, thanks to a starting price of $649. Now, Google also sold the phone unlocked through a handful of other channels, but unlike the Galaxy Nexus, the price didn’t adjust from one outlet to the next. That $649 price stuck everywhere.

In case you were curious, in non-Verizon years, we have seen Nexus phones start at $529 (Nexus S, 2010), $299 (Nexus 4, 2012), $349 (Nexus 5, 2013), $379 (Nexus 5X, 2015), and $499 (Nexus 6P, 2015). Up until last year, Google always pushed a single phone and they often came in at budget-friendly prices when there wasn’t a heavy carry influence. Then last year, they introduced both a budget phone and a premium tier, yet the premium tier fell in at just $499.

Why is it that we see the pricing change so much when a carrier, especially Verizon, gets involved? We’ll probably never know the answer to that, because no one in the know will ever divulge such information, but I think we all have our assumptions there. Carriers still run the US smartphone industry and if you aren’t a major player in smartphone hardware, you probably aren’t going to make many calls. Just look at AT&T completely passing on the HTC 10. Unless you are Samsung or Apple, you probably don’t have much power.

So look, I think there is one scenario that we can all hope plays out, along with another that is probably the more likely. The one we all want is for Verizon to do whatever they want to do (price-wise) with this reported carrier exclusivity, while Google does its own usual thing on the Google Store with unlocked models (meaning: value-minded pricing). The more likely option, which none of us want to see but should prepare for, is for higher $649-ish pricing to move from carrier to unlocked.

Thankfully, nothing is official yet and everything reported today can change. Will it? Heh.

0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Captcha image


  • 5300c769af79e

    Google Expands Android 'Early Access' Beta Program

    It can be difficult for app developers to get feedback on their creations, so Google this year launched an Early Access beta program that let Android users try out pre-release apps and submit their thoughts.The success of that early test run has now convinced Google to expand Early Access to even more developers.
  • 5300c769af79e

    FCC's Tom Wheeler Hitting the Road

    United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday announced that he will leave the agency he helmed for the past three years on Jan.Prior to joining the FCC, Wheeler served as managing director for Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that helped fund companies that were developing Internet Protocol-based technology.
  • 5300c769af79e

    Friday App Sales: Dokuro, Backdrops Pro, Final Fantasy VI, and More

    This Friday brings us a whole new list of apps and games on sale via Google Play.To give you a preview, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VI can be grabbed for $11, the Pro version of Backdrops (my favorite wallpaper app) is on sale for $1, and you can grab Metro 2033: Wars for $4.
  • 5300c769af79e

    DEAL: ASUS OnHub Router Drops to $89.99 at Amazon ($110 Off)

    The ASUS OnHub, Google’s Nexus-like take on a WiFi router that likely helped birth the idea behind Google WiFi, can be yours for just $89.It really is like the Nexus of routers in that Google created this smart WiFi platform, but had other people build the hardware.