The Google Pixel phones are good, though overpriced and underwhelming, smartphones. But the one fantastic thing about buying an Android phone straight from Google is that it gets immediate upgrades to the latest version of Android.
Google has apparently confirmed to 9to5Google that for any Pixel phones bought from Verizon, the network (and not Google) will be in charge of system software upgrades. Forget all your dreams of Android 8.0, Pixel-owners.
It’s worth saying that even Verizon-managed Pixels will still get security updates pushed by Google, which will help with major Android security problems. But with Verizon managing major system updates, something that will invariably take months because it’s Verizon, one of the biggest reasons to get a Google-made phone is gone.
Sure, you can (and should!) buy the phone unlocked directly from Google. But frankly speaking, most people still buy their phones from retail stores, and it’s a niche of first-adopters and hardcore geeks who are going to buy a $700 phone directly from Google’s site.
As I said before, it’s an even smaller number of people who will buy their phone online, and choose a Pixel over an equally-specced but much cheaper LG v20 or Honor 8.
The Verizon exclusive was a head-scratching decision by Google to begin with. Now that we know that buying Verizon means slow updates, it seems like an even stranger move. Google’s plan to challenge Apple and Samsung isn’t off to a good start.