A change of course, and a reason to still be hesitant.
Understanding how Verizon planned to handle the launch of Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL, we laid down a stance that you should strongly consider buying your Pixel elsewhere — even if you planned to use it on Verizon. Since then, Verizon has clarified the situation, offering a statement to Android Central that makes things a bit less dire: it now claims that software updates will launch for Verizon's Pixels at the same time as Google's own unlocked models. This isn't all roses, though — there's some nuance to the situation.
Here's the statement on the update situation, from Verizon:
Verizon will be releasing operating system and security updates for the Google Pixel at the same time as Google. The software still goes through the same Verizon testing process, [and Verizon] releases the updates in tandem.
First off, this is good news for those who are interested in still buying their Pixel from Verizon instead of Google. Knowing that Verizon has put out its official stance as wanting to release updates at the same time as Google is a good thing for everyone. Verizon is still going to do its testing on the update before release, as it does with every phone, but in this case it seems Google's working closely with the carrier to get that done with in time to push the update along with the unlocked models.
This kind of partnership is a big deal for Google.
Now, the downside here is that the base situation is the same now as we originally feared: Verizon still has something to do with your Pixel's updates, and that always introduces potential for issues or delays. The simple idea that Verizon has mucked with your phone in any way is what will keep many from buying a Pixel on Verizon, and nothing about that situation has changed. Just because Verizon plans to release the updates on time with Google doesn't mean they aren't involved in the process. (Thankfully, security updates are supposedly still going to arrive monthly untouched.)
Going a step beyond just the Pixels, though, this is a big deal for Google. Having a setup in place with Verizon to work hand-in-hand on updates, certifying them well before release and hoping to launch them at the exact same time as the unlocked models is something we've been wanting for years. We're not sure which side had to bend more here, but it's great to see Google taking the initiative to push for this, and also to see Verizon agree to this sort of update situation.
As for our original recommendation, it's going to stand as-is: if you want the cleanest, smoothest possible Pixel experience, the one place to get it without any caveats is directly from Google.
- Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
- Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
- Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
- Pixel + Pixel XL specs
- Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
- Join the discussion in the forums!