For the third year in a row, Verizon is the “exclusive” launch partner for the Pixel 3 and XL. But this year, they’re handling things differently—out of the box, the Verizon Pixel 3 is SIM-locked to Verizon.
The “Only on Verizon” ad campaign that has backed Google’s Pixel phones since the original has always caused confusion but with the Pixel 3, things are even more convoluted. In the past, you could walk into Best Buy—which has always only sold the Verizon variant of the phone—and walk out with what was essentially an unlocked model (after paying in full).
That means you were able to pop in any SIM you wanted, be it AT&T, Sprint, Cricket, T-Mobile…whatever. It worked like this for the Pixel 1 and 2, so there was no reason to think things would be different for the Pixel 3.
But it is.
For the first time in years, the Pixel 3 is SIM-locked to Verizon, regardless of whether you pay for the phone in full or not. That means out of the box, despite having the ability to support all carriers across the U.S., any Pixel 3 bought from Best Buy or Verizon can only be used on Verizon.
Since the phone is paid in full, you can take it into a Verizon Store and request that they unlock the device. They may or may not do this willingly since you’re not a Verizon customer, so be prepared to potentially get some backlash. Maybe.
Update: It’s being reported that after 24 hours with a Verizon SIM in the phone, it’s automatically unlocked. That’s cool if you’re already on Verizon, in which case none of this matters in the first place. It still doesn’t help non-Verizon users in the slightest.
Update x2: Verizon issued a statement to Android Police:
At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores. We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future.
As you may recall, earlier this year we began locking phones until they were initially activated on the Verizon network to prevent theft and protect employees.
Again, this changes nothing. If you’re not on Verizon, don’t buy a Pixel 3 from Best Buy or Verizon—it doesn’t look like things will be changing any time soon.
There’s a Better Way: Just Buy from the Google Store
If you’re a fan of taking the path of least resistance (which, let’s be real here—when it comes to buying a phone, you should be) then there’s a better option than dealing with Best Buy and Verizon: buy directly from Google. It won’t cost you any more than the Verizon variant, and it’s unlocked out of the box. You can even finance it if you want to.
If you buy your Pixel 3 from the Google Store, then you won’t have to worry about it being carrier locked. Just buy it, put your SIM in it, and enjoy your new phone. No Verizon garbage to deal with, and you also get the added bonus of not having to walk into Best Buy. Consider it a win-win.
The downside? You’ll have to wait for shipping. Sorry man, you can’t win ’em all.
via Android Central