When Google’s Pixel phones were announced, we found out that aside from Google’s own store, Verizon is the exclusive carrier to sell the models. How does this affect updates?

Due to the open nature of Android, carriers and phone manufacturers are notorious for delaying important updates months or years later. Google confirmed that the updates for the Pixel phones will be shared between Google and Verizon.

Any Pixel sold through Verizon will have its bootloader locked down. This makes it hard, if not impossible, to root and customize your Pixel phone. However, the average Android user probably isn’t going to about rooting and flashing their phone.

Buyer’s Guide: Verizon

According to Google, Verizon is going to handle system updates for the Pixel. It’s unclear whether Google has set a mandatory update cycle for Verizon, so we don’t know how quickly (or slowly) these updates will roll out to users.


However, Google will be the one to handle security updates for the Pixel. This kind of update needs to be pushed to users as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want your phone to be compromised with security holes. These security updates will be rolled out monthly.

Thanks to Pixel’s new system, the phone will be automatically updated, so you don’t have to worry about manually installing them. The Pixel phones have two system partitions. The Android operating system runs on one partition, which is called the active partition.

When Google or Verizon sends an over-the-air (OTA) update to your phone, it will automatically install itself on the partition that doesn’t have the OS, called the passive partition.

Then, the next time you restart your phone, it boots to the partition that has the newest update, and clears the other partition with the older version of Android on it. This is why we’re advising you to buy the Pixel phones from Google’s online store. You can get the same financing options, and the bootloader comes unlocked to use on any carrier.

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  1. Seems strange that Google would even allow this. Verizon caved with the Motorola Nexus 6 phone. I bought one of those from a Verizon store and the bootloader was not encrypted. Updates came directly from Google. I’m sure Verizon would have caved with the Pixel phones too.

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