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Pixel 3 automatically unlocks for other carriers when you activate it on Verizon

Published Oct 19th, 2018 7:45AM EDT
Verizon Pixel 3 XL
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

Verizon remains the exclusive Pixel 3 carrier in the US, and that isn’t such a great thing this year, as the Pixel 3 phones are locked to Verizon’s network. That means you’ll have to activate your handset with Verizon, if that’s where you got it from, before unlocking it for use on a different network.

Verizon confirmed to The Verge that Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones sold by Verizon won’t be unlocked as some people may have expected. The same goes for any other phone that Verizon sells, the report notes. That means even the iPhone XR, which is available for preorder right now, will be briefly locked to Verizon. Apparently, Verizon is doing it to prevent thieves from targeting stores in search of unlocked Verizon handsets. The Pixel 3 units that Best Buy sells are also locked to Verizon.

However, there’s a procedure in place to automatically unlock the phones. All you need to do is activate the Pixel 3, or any other phone, with Verizon. Once that’s done, the carrier will unlock the device overnight, according to the company.

That’s not necessarily a bad deal if you can activate the new Pixel phone on Verizon first. You only need a Verizon SIM card to do it, so borrow one from your family or friends. According to an Android Central reader, “putting a Verizon SIM in it, the phone worked fine — but it complained again as soon as it had another US SIM inserted.” The trick seems to be waiting for a day for Verizon to automatically unlock it.

The alternative is to buy a Pixel 3 phone directly from Google, in which case the device will be unlocked by default, and you’ll be able to use it with any carrier of your choosing.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.