Google will be selling its brand new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL at pop-up locations in Los Angeles and New York City starting tomorrow. But while you might expect that a Pixel purchased from these temporary Google shops would be the same as buying one from the Google Store, it turns out that’s an incorrect assumption.
A Google spokesperson has confirmed with The Verge that the pop-up stores will in fact be selling the Verizon model of both Pixel 2s. The Verizon Pixel 2 is unlocked and compatible with all major networks, so using it on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or another carrier isn’t a problem. It also receives software updates and new versions of Android at the same time as the Google-sold hardware. I’ve followed up to ask whether buyers will need to have a Verizon account in order to buy the phone at the pop-ups, which will be open through mid-December. But either way, there are a couple other points worth knowing.
First, this means you can’t purchase Google’s extended warranty for the Pixel if you get the phone at one of the pop-ups. The two-year warranty (with accidental damage coverage) is only available for Pixel devices purchased directly online from Google. Second, the Verizon Pixel 2’s bootloader is locked, making it difficult (or even impossible) to root the Pixel 2.
On the plus side, the Google spokesperson also confirmed that each pop-up is guaranteed to have at least some inventory of both phones. Google declined to provide specific estimates, so I can’t tell you where the threshold is to know whether it’s worth waiting in line.
The surprising bottom line is this: there is absolutely no difference between buying the Pixel 2 from one of Google’s pop-up locations or getting the Verizon phone directly from the carrier or Best Buy, which also exclusively sells the Verizon variants. You should probably just go with whichever option is most likely to have stock.