The attribute between Google and Verizon is best summed adult with a age-old adage: “It’s complicated.”
Things started off good adequate with a dual companies’ beginning flirtations. It feels like a lifetime ago, yet approach behind when Android was substantially different (yes, there unequivocally was such a time), Verizon played a pivotal purpose in removing Google’s then-unproven mobile height off a ground. Remember those iconic commercials for a original Motorola Droid? They helped spin Android from a small-scale examination into a tellurian phenomenon.
In a years that followed, Google and Verizon’s courtship got a small some-more rocky. For a prolonged time, Verizon spin synonymous with slow updates and muted support for inclination on a Android platform. It’s a repute a conduit has had a tough time shaking, all a approach by to today.
Now here we are, 7 years after that initial Droid, and Verizon is teaming adult with Google once again — this time as a “exclusive” conduit partner for Google’s new flagship Pixel phones. But reason a phone: Staying in line with a companies’ difficult history, this new arrangement isn’t utterly what it seems.
Yup — there’s a lot of deficient and dubious info out there about what accurately is going on with Google’s Pixel phones and Verizon here in a U.S. of A. So let’s take a notation to transparent things up, shall we?
(And be certain to review all a approach by this, since a final indicate might be a many vicious one of all.)
1. The Pixel isn’t unequivocally a Verizon “exclusive.”
I’ve seen lots of denunciation — in selling materials, promotional tweets, and ads all over mainstream news sites — touting a Pixel as being “only on Verizon” or “exclusively available” on Verizon. Here’s one blatant example:
We can oppose all day over semantics, yet here’s a genuine deal: The Pixel phone is not a Verizon exclusive. You can buy it unlocked, directly from Google, and use it on many any carrier.
Verizon is simply a usually conduit that’s selling a phone directly — on a possess website and in a possess stores. That’s it.
And in fact:
2. Even if we wish to use Verizon, we don’t have to buy a Pixel from Verizon.
This isn’t 2012, where Google sole one chronicle of a flagship phone and Verizon sole another. Whether we buy a Pixel from Verizon or from Google, you’re removing a same earthy device. And it’s going to be concordant on substantially any network, including Verizon’s, regardless of where we get it.
So, yes, we can buy a Pixel from Verizon if we wish — or we can buy it unbarred from Google, afterwards put a Verizon SIM into it and use it on Verizon’s network. Either approach will work fine, as we reliable directly with Verizon (“Folks are acquire to squeeze unbarred by Google or by Verizon; both models will bond to a network,” a orator told me).
Pixels sole by Verizon are even unbarred — so if we buy a phone from a conduit and confirm we wish to switch to another provider during some indicate down a line, we should have no problem swapping out a SIM and moseying onward.
That being said…
3. There are some differences between shopping a Pixel from Google and shopping it from Verizon.
The hardware itself might be a same, yet a knowledge of shopping a Pixel from Google and shopping it from Verizon is not identical.
The simple pricing is the same possibly approach we go: $650 undisguised for a bottom Pixel indication or $27/mo. if we wish to go a financing track (which both Google and Verizon yield as an option). And both Google and Verizon are now charity giveaway Daydream View VR headsets along with all pre-orders.
If we buy a phone from Verizon, however, you’ll have a choice to trade in your aged phone and get credit toward your new purchase. Verizon says it’ll go as high as $300, depending on a device and condition. (On a other hand, of course, we could always sell your aged phone exclusively and substantially get tighten to that same amount.)
Both Verizon and Google offer device insurance plans, duration — yet according to a sum posted on any company’s website, Verizon’s charity appears to be significantly some-more expensive. (You can review a specifics for yourself if we want; here’s Verizon’s insurance devise page and Google’s insurance devise page.)
And during a risk of complicating things further, we should also indicate out that Best Buy is running a promotion right now where if we buy a Pixel phone there and activate it on Verizon, a store will give we a $100 Best Buy present label and a giveaway 2015 Chromecast. So that’s another probability to cruise — yet it appears shopping a Pixel from Best Buy is homogeneous to shopping it from Verizon, that is a applicable eminence to keep in mind for a subsequent few items.
4. If we buy a Pixel from Verizon, your phone will come with some bloatware.
Google’s Pixel phones are all about a “pure Google” experience, and partial of that means we don’t get all a remaining gunk and overlapping services manufacturers and carriers adore to bake into Android phones.
If we buy a Pixel from Verizon, that’s mostly still loyal — yet not entirely: Pixels sole by Verizon will come with 3 preloaded conduit apps (the My Verizon criticism manager; a Go90 video streaming service; and Verizon’s tradition texting app, Verizon Messages). Verizon tells me all of those apps are removable, though, so it’s a flattering teenager point.
5. Pixels sole by Verizon won’t have unlockable bootloaders.
Unlocking a bootloader isn’t something many smartphone owners regard themselves with — and if we don’t know what a bootloader is, we substantially don’t need to worry about this — yet for a tinkerers among us, be wakeful that we won’t be means to transparent a bootloader and get underneath a hood on a Verizon-sold Pixel.
If that’s vicious to you, get your phone from a Google Store. End of discussion.
And finally, a biggest asterisk of all:
6. If we buy a Pixel phone from Verizon, we might or might not get destiny OS updates immediately.
This final object is critical. (Hey, don’t contend we didn’t advise you.)
One of a biggest advantages of owning a Pixel device, usually like with a Nexus line before it, is that we get program updates directly from Google as shortly as they’re expelled — though all a months of watchful and uncertainty that accompany upgrades on many other Android products. It’s a huge perk, and one whose significance can’t be overstated.
But as anyone who’s watched Android for prolonged knows, it’s also a perk that’s typically loyal usually for unbarred inclination sole directly by Google. When we buy a phone from a conduit — even a Google flagship phone — that conduit has a intensity to spin a pull in a ascent routine and check program deliveries.
For a part, Verizon says it’s committed to providing security rags to a Pixel during a same time a unbarred Google-sold phones get them. But — and call Sir Mix-A-Lot, ’cause this is a large one — a conduit is remaining decidedly reduction organisation about a joining to bone-fide OS updates.
Here’s a statement:
We don’t have specifics to share about program updates during this time yet a idea is to always yield program updates in a timely conform so a business have a best experience. But we can contend yes, a Verizon models will accept Android confidence updates/patches during a same time as a unbarred model.
Take it for what we will, yet what’s transparent is that while Verizon is committed to providing confidence rags to a self-sold Pixels during a same time as Google, a conduit is not willing or means to give that same declaration for full OS updates as of now. In other words, there are no guarantees; a accurate calendar for OS refurbish deliveries with Verizon-bought Pixels is now an unknown.
(Update: A deputy from Google tells me a tangible OS updates for all Pixel inclination are rubbed directly by Google — yet that with carrier-sold phones, a carriers do have to plead those updates before they’re rolled out to customers. Google’s goal, a deputy says, is to have all Pixel owners accept timely updates regardless of that requirement.)
So what to make of this grievous uncertainty? Well, I’d contend this: One peek during Verizon’s home page right now is adequate to make we know because this attribute is so profitable to Google. Google is clearly working tough to foster a Pixel line, and a phone is intoxicated all over Verizon’s website — with prominence that dwarfs even iPhone promotions:
Especially if a carrier’s in-store chain and promotional efforts are anywhere nearby that same level, a pull like this could go a prolonged approach in removing a Pixel in front of standard smartphone shoppers — those who don’t follow tech news closely and simply spin to their carriers when it’s time to make a purchase.
But for those of us in a know, shopping a Pixel directly from Verizon raises a poignant risk — a risk of neutralizing one of a device’s many constrained qualities. And if we ask me, that’s a tough condition to accept.
Only we can entirely import a pros and cons of shopping a phone from one source vs. another for your possess personal situation, yet if we wish my advice, it’s simple: If you’re going to get a Pixel, get a Pixel from Google. Regardless of anything else, putting such a large asterisk after one of a phone’s many vicious advantages is a risk we wouldn’t wish to take.
(Note: Story updated during 10:15 a.m. ET on 10/7/16 to supplement criticism and context from Google.)