It is has been a while since Google sold its phones through a carrier, but it happening with the 2016 Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, which are coming in to mark a new era for the company’s hardware division.
Unlike Samsung and Apple devices that you will find on almost any carrier in the U.S., the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are only available through Verizon Wireless. This doesn’t mean you will not be able to use this handset on other carriers such as Sprint, U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile or AT&T, however, you will need to get a Google Store variant to use them. Still, the Google Store version will also work with a Verizon SIM card without any problems.
However, one thing that has always troubled carrier-sold handsets is the timely nature of rolling out software updates. Usually, carriers, with Verizon Wireless being a notorious culprit, can take up to weeks or months before availing a software update to its devices. If this happens, it will be defeating the meaning of buying a Google phone – where the usual norm is that these handsets lead the way when it comes to receiving software updates.
It is happening with the Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X as far as Android Nougat is concerned, but this may not be happening with Verizon-sold Google Pixel and Pixel XL. This is so because the carrier has seemingly confirmed that while Google will be solely responsible for software updates on its Google Store variants, Verizon Wireless will be responsible for the units that it sells. These include those bought through Best Buy, which will be coming with a Verizon tag, meaning they will be unlocked.
Still, Verizon says that while Google will be sending them the monthly security updates for the Pixel and Pixel XL, all system updates will be taken care of by its in-house team. If you are a Verizon user who is probably looking for early updates from Google, this could really be bad news.
Even though Verizon promises that all software updates to the Google Pixel and Pixel XL will come at the same time as the unlocked versions, history shows that the existence of any middleman between Google and Android users has always resulted in delayed software updates. To avoid dealing with these uncertainties, you can simply pick a Pixel or Pixel XL from the Google Store and still use it on Verizon Wireless. Either way, you get the same pricing as well as a free Daydream View VR headset.