Google Pixel’s ‘Only on Verizon’ pitch isn’t what it seems – USA TODAY
Columnist Ed Baig reviews Pixel, which features the high-IQ Google Assistant and a competitive, high-end smartphone camera.
Q. How can Googleâs new Pixel phones be âonly on Verizonâ if T-MobileÂ wants me to bring one there?
To judge from the ads during the World Series, only the second purchase option exists. They keep touting the Pixel â âa winner for anyone looking for an excellent phone,âÂ USA Â TODAYâs Ed Baig wroteÂ â as âonly on Verizon,â somethingÂ Verizonâs own page about the phones repeats.
But Google will not only sell you an unlocked Pixel that you can use with any of the big four U.S. carriers, it will even let you make interest-free installment-plan payments for it on the same 24-month schedule as Verizon. The situation mirrors how you canÂ buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple with zero-interest financing.
Buying from Google could be worth your time even if youâd use theÂ phone on Verizon, considering that carrierâs erratic history of Android support. When Verizon sold the Galaxy Nexus phone, itÂ disabledÂ the Google Wallet mobile-payment app, preloaded it with its own apps and then took its time shipping updates.
The experience was frustrating enough to drive ComputerWorld phone reviewer JR Raphael to pay Â $270 in early-termination fees to flee Verizon for T-Mobile.
Verizon says it will ship security and feature updates for the Pixel at the same time as Google, but you may have to forgive Android veterans for being a little skeptical.
Now T-Mobile, whichÂ added more than twice as many subscribers as Verizon in its last quarter, wants more people to make the same switch. ItâsÂ offeringÂ a $325 credit, half the purchase price of an entry-level Pixel, to people who bring that phone to T-Mobile and sign up for its T-Mobile One price plan.
T-Mobile publicist Bethany Frey said even existing T-Mo subscribers Â can get this deal, not just new customers. Thatâs a refreshing break from the usual practice of carriers caring more about people who donât already pay them.
But some skepticism may be in order about this offer, too. You donât get the money all at once; itâs paid out as $13.55 monthly credits over two years of T-Mobile One. If you switch to a cheaper plan or exit T-Mobile, the credits stop.
T-Mobile One itself has some issues. This $70 plan,Â pitchedÂ as âunlimited,â constrains the resolution of streaming video to roughly DVD quality and limits tethering â sharing your phoneâs connection with a nearby device via WiFi â to 3G speeds far slower than T-Mobileâs LTE broadband.
You can erase those limits by paying another $25 a month forÂ T-Mobileâs One+ plan, and Frey said switching from One to One+ wonât disqualify you from the âBYOPixelâ credits.
But donât forget that you can also still sign up for T-MobileâsÂ older Simple Choice plans â the two most relevant ones being $50 for 2 GB or $65 for 6 GB â over the phone or in its stores. Those plans include full-speed tethering and also let you roll over unused data for the next 12 months; if you have lower appetites forÂ data or you tether frequently, your savings will outweigh T-Mobileâs credits.