If you can get past the hardware design, which we’ll politely call “an acquired taste,” Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are shaping up to be two of the hottest smartphones of the year. Google unveiled the new handsets earlier this week and from start to finish, they sound like a hardcore Android fan’s dream. The phones pack cutting-edge specs, premium hardware, class-leading cameras, the latest and greatest Nougat software from Google, and so much more. You can read all about the new Pixel phones’ 10 best features right here.
Sadly, it’s not all good news for Android fans. As Google tries to get its footing in the increasingly competitive US smartphone market, it may have made some deals with the devil that ruin the user experience for many people who end up buying the phones.
Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market in the US, combining to account for nearly all profits generated from smartphone sales each quarter. If other handset makers hope to manage any sales whatsoever, they need a tremendous amount of support from carriers. And in order to get that support, they often agree to exclusive deals.
Such is the case with Google and its new Pixel phones, which are set to launch in the coming weeks. The company struck a deal with Verizon, which will be the only wireless carrier that will sell the phone in the US. Subscribers of other carriers will have to purchase the phone unlocked directly from Google, or from one of its retail partners.
In case an exclusive deal wasn’t already bad enough, things get worse. Part of Google’s deal with Verizon involves letting the carrier ruin two of the best things about Google’s new phones.
As was the case with Nexus devices, the Pixel phones will run a version of Android that is untouched by other smartphone vendors and carriers. They will also have instant access to Google’s Android operating system updates the moment they are released… unless you have a Pixel or Pixel XL from Verizon. In that case, software updates will be managed by Verizon and yes, there will also be bloatware that comes preinstalled on your phone.
Android fans are already up in arms over both issues, but it remains to be seen how this might impact sales.