The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are no longer just a steady stream of leaks: Both phones are now on sale after Google unveiled them earlier this month. As in the past, Verizon is the only wireless carrier selling the latest Google phones. But that doesn't mean you can’t enjoy the Pixel 3 and 3 XL on another network.
Just like previous Pixels, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are sold unlocked. That means you can snag a model direct from Google that is compatible with any carrier's towers, so long as you have the appropriate SIM card. Here’s how:
We’ll start with the only carrier that is officially selling the Pixel 3 and 3 XL through its website and retail stores. Verizon offers the 64GB variant of the smaller, 5.5-inch Pixel 3 for $799, or $33.33 per month for 24 months. The 128GB model costs $899, which breaks down to $37.49 a month.
If it’s the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL you’re after, that’ll set you back $929, or $38.74 per month for the 64GB configuration. That’s $30 more expensive than the Pixel 3 XL at Google's store.
Verizon's offering a deal on the Pixel 3 to convince you to stay on its wireless network. Buy one of the new phones, and Verizon will give you a 64GB Pixel 3 for free — or at least free in the form of monthly bill credits. To qualify, you've got to buy your phones through Verizon's monthly installment plan, and you need to open a new line of service with the carrier.
Best Buy is selling the Pixel 3 as well, though all its models are tied to Verizon.
If you’re on T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint or a prepaid carrier, you won’t be able to simply turn up in one of your network’s brick-and-mortar locations and leave with a Pixel 3. However, you could order an unlocked model from Google’s website, then transfer your SIM card from your existing phone to your new one. Because the Pixel 3 supports both GSM and CDMA networks, it will run on just about any carrier.
Google will even pay you for your old phone when you go to order a Pixel 3. In fact, the company is offering up to $400 depending on the model. However, be mindful that you’ll have to spend the full cost of your Pixel 3 before sending your old handset back, at which point Google will evaluate it and make sure everything’s as described. Once that’s been done, you'll be refunded the value of your trade-in.
Alternatively, you could try Project Fi — Google’s own wireless service that combines T-Mobile’s, Sprint’s and U.S. Cellular’s networks into one. Project Fi users only pay for the data they use; any amount less or more than their monthly allotment is simply credited or added to their bill at the normal rate. To make it even more convenient, customers can manage their accounts through a handy, well-designed app that boasts 24/7 live support.
Despite the Verizon exclusivity, Google has made sure that no matter what carrier you’re on, you can use a Pixel 3 on it. And given our positive early impressions of the hardware, it seems that you’ll want to. Stay tuned for more coverage and full reviews of both devices.