Google’s new Pixel smartphones are often deemed to be the successors to the company's previous Nexus line. But now, it looks like the new devices are more of a complete reboot rather than a continuation, because the Pixel phones are leaving one of the best Nexus features behind.
One of the very key aspects of a Nexus device, one which made the line attractive to tech enthusiasts, was the clean, “purely Google” experience that came with it. In other words, the lack of skinning, crapware and carrier interference when it came to software updates, made Nexus phones a popular choice among techies.
But the company seems to have compromised on most of those aspects when it comes to its new Pixel phones. We already knew that the Pixel and Pixel XL will actually be sold not just through the Google Store, but also directly through carriers. That even includes an exclusive deal with Verizon in the US. And it looks like all the downsides of going through a carrier will be coming along for the ride.
Google has confirmed that Verizon phones will have locked bootloaders, and the company will be pre-installing some of its own apps on the Pixel devices that it sells, though it looks like those may be uninstallable.
In much more worrying news, it looks like Verizon will also have control over some of the most important software updates that Google pushes out, essentially transforming the Pixel into just another smartphone that never gets properly updated. According to a statement made by Google, there is one tiny sliver of hope: the company will still be in charge of the monthly security updates, which will be pushed to all devices. But general updates, i.e new versions of Android, will need to go through Verizon.
This is indeed very disappointing given that the Google’s previous products were respected for the company’s guarantee that they’d be always up to date.
Luckily, there is an easy solution to fix this: the option of buying a phone directly through the Google Store, with the company then handling both software and security updates. And of course, even if you buy your handset through Google, it will still work on Verizon’s network.