Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL phones arrived a couple of days ago, promising a revolution in mobile computing in more ways than mere RAM and processor upgrades. Running the latest Android 7.1 (Nougat) operating system, these will be compatible with Google’s Daydream VR system, will run Allo and Duo seamlessly and their cameras will offer image quality better than most Android phones, if not all if Google is to be believed. In the US, those interested in owning the Pixel or Pixel XL handsets will either have to pre-order from Google directly or from Verizon, which is the only network Google has partnered with in the country. While Google’s Nexus phones have more or less remained immune from carrier customizations or bloatware, it now seems that the Pixel handsets won’t be as lucky.
If you pre-order a Pixel or Pixel XL from Verizon, you’ll find a few Verizon apps pre-installed in your handset once you receive it. These lucky apps are My Verizon, Go90, VZ Messages, Allo, Duo, Android Pay, Docs and Keep. The good news is that you’ll be able to uninstall them if you don’t need them at all as they will arrive with Google Play Store support. However, that’s not all as far as Verizon’s stamp on the Pixel phones is concerned. Yet another piece of news trickling in is that Verizon will get to manage system updates on Pixel phones and will decide which phone gets what and within what time frame. Earlier today, Google confirmed the fact by stating that while it will continue to manage monthly security updates to all Pixel phones, Verizon will be handling system updates for the phones that the carrier will sell. This means that Verizon will have a say on when to pass on new Android system updates once they are made available by Google. Those purchasing Pixel phones from the Google store will, however, not have to rely on Verizon’s discretion for timely system updates.
As per the reports, Pixel phones pre-ordered from Verizon will also feature locked bootloaders which will effectively block off any custom firmware or upgrades that you may wish to subject your Pixel phone to. For those who love tinkering with custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, this won’t be great news but the way around this is to go for a Pixel handset directly from Google. On the flip side, buying a Pixel phone from Verizon will bring its own benefits like the carrier’s LTE Advanced speeds and the widest network coverage. Pixel phones from Verizon will also not feature any Verizon logos which means that your handset will continue to be all about Google, as you would hope it to be. While Verizon’s pricing plans for the new phones may also play a part in consumer decision-making, whether a user will buy it from Google or Verizon will depend on his/her precise needs and expectations.