Verizon says it won't hold back Android updates for Google's new Pixel phones

After Google launched its new Pixel phones last week, we told you how their carrier partner, Verizon, couldn’t confirm whether or not it would issue Android updates at the same time as the unlocked model Google sells through its online store.

Google then confirmed to 9to5Google that Verizon would indeed manage those system updates for Verizon-bought models.

This led eager Pixel buyers to worry, since timely system updates is an age-old problem for Android phones, and since mobile carriers like Verizon are often a major cause of those delays. Carriers typically aren’t keen on putting in the work to test a given update, especially for a device that isn’t a major seller like Apple’s iPhone. So they often run late.

That this could be an issue for Google’s phones, which are known for always carrying the latest version of Android, only exacerbated the concern.

Now, though, Verizon is promising not to meddle. In a statement to Business Insider and other outlets, a carrier rep said that “Verizon will not stand in the way of any major updates,” and that buyers of Verizon’s Google Pixel “will get all updates at the same time as Google.”

The carrier likens it to the way it handles iOS updates with Apple’s iPhones — i.e., with zero interference — a claim that typically doesn’t apply to other Android phones. It says the update policy “should include full operating system and associated OS updates, patches, security updates,” and the like.  

Verizon says it will update the Pixel devices in tandem with Google “for the foreseeable future.”

Google also confirmed to Ars Technica that the both the unlocked and Verizon versions of the Pixel will indeed be updated simultaneously.

The carrier had previously noted that its Pixel models would get their security updates straight from Google, too, meaning that they shouldn’t lag behind the way other third-party Android devices often do in that regard.

If Verizon keeps to its word, the only effective differences between its Pixels and the unlocked models is that the former will come with three Verizon apps pre-loaded — which are fully deletable, according to the carrier — and that its bootloader will be locked, thus preventing users from installing custom software or different versions of Android.

It’s worth noting that the unlocked version of the Pixel will still work with CDMA networks (like Verizon’s), and do not have any carrier apps loaded by default. Nevertheless, the pledge should give the Pixel greater appeal to anyone grabbing the device through Verizon.

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