When you choose to buy a Google Pixel phone directly from the Google Store, like the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, some of you do so knowing that there are extra benefits. The biggest reason you do so is because you want the “unlocked” version, which is basically the Google version that ships without any worries of it being the “Verizon” version.
That distinction is important because if you want to unlock the bootloader of your Pixel 3 (review) or Pixel 3 XL (review) and get to tinkering, the Google version is the only one that allows it. The Verizon version, because Verizon is a meanie face to freedom, won’t let you do that.
As shipments of the new Google phones have continued to flow into the hands of many, thanks in part to new deals like this BOGO 50%-off deal, some are finding that Pixel 3 and 3 XL devices they expected to have no attachment to Verizon aren’t allowing bootloaders to be unlocked. Specifically, the “OEM unlocking” toggle within Developer Options is greyed out.
There is a growing list of owners reporting the problem to Google’s Issue Tracker, as well as a bunch of folks at XDA who are also chiming in. It’s tough to say what the exact problem is, but it appears to be happening to both direct orders and replacement devices. When diving into the devices with “OEM unlocking” greyed out, users have noticed a string suggesting they were mistakenly or wrongly sent Verizon models of the 3 and 3 XL (“ms-android-verizon” instead of “ms-android-google”).
Google support has told owners that a fix is in the works, likely through a software update. We’ve also reached out to Google looking for an official response and will update this post.
I should point out that a similar situation unfolded with the Pixel 2 last year. Google eventually fixed it on their end, but factory resets were required from end users.
If you are one of the unlucky few who received a non-unlockable device, keep an eye on this post as well as the links below.
Cheers Jake and Jeromy!