Skip to main content

Verizon's Pixel Exclusive May Be Coming to an End

Google's Pixel phones get a lot of things right, chiefly the way they use AI-powered software to improve the camera. But an ongoing source of frustration for some shoppers has been Verizon's exclusive hold on the phone since the original Pixel debuted in 2016.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You can buy a Pixel unlocked directly from Google to use with any carrier. But most U.S. phone shoppers don't get their devices this way. Instead, they usually buy their phone from the wireless service that provides their cellular coverage. For the last three iterations of the Pixel, that's been Verizon (though you could also buy the phone tied to Google's own Google Fi wireless service if you prefer).

That may be about to change, according to a 9to5Google report, which cites a "trusted source" that claims the Pixel 3 and 3 XL could soon be offered through T-Mobile.

T-Mobile's involvement with Google's phones may not be limited to last fall's Pixels. Another source tells 9to5Google that the Uncarrier is testing the Pixel 3a and 3a XL on its network. Those are the long-rumored lower cost versions of Google's Pixel flagships, which sacrifice on some features like processing power to offer shoppers a lower price tag.

There's no timeline for when the Pixel 3a and 3a XL would ship, though the phones did recently pop up on the Google Play Developer Console, suggesting a launch might happen sooner rather than later.

Reports of T-Mobile's ties to the Pixel are looking even more solid, after Android Police added confirmation with sources of its own.

If the Pixel 3 and 3 XL do come to T-Mobile — and the rumored midrange Pixels follow suit — it would figure to expand the Pixel's reach in the U.S. smartphone market. Verizon may be the biggest carrier, but having your phones available through multiple outlets increases the odds of them winding up in more users' pockets.

It's unclear from these initial reports whether future Pixel phones, such as this fall's expected Pixel 4, would be tied to just one carrier or whether you'll have the option of shopping around for Google's next phone. Here's hoping it's the latter.