Some of Sprint's competitors would have you believe that the Google Pixel pure android experience is exclusive to their network, But I am here to give you some first hand experience on what it is like to use this amazing phone while paired with Sprint.
The Pixel and Pixel XL
What is it?
The Google Pixel is Google's first phone made for the consumer market. Previous Google phones were targeted as reference devices for developers under the Nexus brand. Google's first try was a hit though, as Wired called it the "best phone on the planet." It was the first phone with the built in Google assistant which now powers everything from cars in Android Auto to home virtual assistant speakers in Google Home. It also touts one of the highest rated smartphone cameras ever from independent ranking websites. Besides those standouts it sports a seamless glass-aluminum body with smooth surfaces and easy-to-grip curved edges which houses a vivid, cinematic AMOLED screen, with true blacks and 16.77 million colors.
While the phone is not available in Sprint stores, it is readily available in an unlocked version direct from Google. There are financing options and Google often runs promotions for additional benefits such as a free case or currently a free Google Home making it a good value. In addition this allows you to have Unlimited Sprint service without any contract or device agreement making your monthly service very affordable.
To activate the Pixel and Pixel XL on Sprint you need a UICC card. A UICC is the physical smart card that allows for LTE network authentication and access. You more often may often more hear it referred to as a new generation SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card. These UICC cards come in many sizes and types but are readily available in the Sprint stores or ordered through Sprint's telephone order support. If going to the store I recommend calling ahead to make sure they have the correct one.
Pixel UICC cards
The card needed for the Pixels is # CZ2144LWC with part # SIMOLW416C and has a UPC of 854798005095. It was by this UPC that I actually found the correct sim card as the CZ2144LWC is not printed on the card anywhere.
Once you have the card inserted activation is simple either in store through a retail consultant or online at Sprint.com.
In day to day usage my Pixel XL performs amazingly well on Sprint. The phone has all the correct radios and antennae to connect to Sprint.
LTE Band 800 MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz LTE + (Tri-band) work in enabled areas and even carrier aggregation is supported in the 2x20 array with 3x20 possible with a future software update. Hotspot also works with no problems as long as you are subscribed to a plan that includes it.
Many applications that make your life easier on Sprint are available on the Pixel even though they did not come pre-installed. My Sprint (formerly Sprint Zone) is a recent addition to the play store which lets me manage my account and even do some troubleshooting if needed. Other stand out apps that can be added to the phone is Sprint Family locator, Sprint TV, and Mobile Controls which lets you manage your parental settings. All of these apps work well on the Pixel and rival the experience of having these apps on a phone that was sold by Sprint.
One change to be aware of is that Sprint Visual Voicemail is not available. But overall this is a non issue as Sprint and Google have partnered up to offer Google Voice integration. I use Google Voice for my Voicemail solution and it actually is a very user friendly and robust solution. It far outshines regular voicemail. Google's page on Sprint integration is located here:
Sprint and Google Voice together offer one number for all of your phones, allowing you to ring home, work, and cell with one number. There also is an online voicemail portal offering many customizations and options such as customer greetings per contact and number blocking.
Sprint was the first carrier to launch a new messaging standard RCS (Rich Communications Standard) and I can report that this feature works amazing on the Pixel. This feature brings advanced features including group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more to the standard messaging experience. Personally I have been able to send large video files and gifs with no problems. It also offers read receipts and typing notifications.
RCS in action
Cutting edge android
One of my favorite things about the Pixel is that you will never be behind in software updates and I can report that with Sprint these software updates come promptly and in many cases before the carrier that actually sold the phone in it's stores. You also have the option of beta testing the latest versions of Android with this phone. I am currently running the Android O preview and can report that it works wonderfully on Sprint. While not for the average consumer due to possible bugs and odd behavior it is always cool to be able to see the new features implemented as they happen.
Other than having to do a bit of legwork looking for UICC cards due to the demand when the phone first launched I have had no problems using a Pixel on Sprint. Actually I would argue that the experience is superior to many other devices due to being able to completely customize the phone to my tastes. Even though the Pixel launched Q4 of 2016 it is still one of today's top phones and when paired with the value and network performance of Sprint it is truly a winning combination.
Disclaimer: I am a Sprint employee but received no compensation for this post. My views are my own, and I did it primarily to sharpen my tech blogging skills.
Now usually this wouldn't be a problem but I live in Oklahoma. Actually when I say I found my keys I actually mean SOMEONE found my keys. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I bought a Tile Mate keychain on a whim a few months ago. I downloaded the app and played with it for a few minutes before promptly forgetting about it.
If you are not familiar with what a "Tile" is, it is one of the many new small bluetooth trackers on the market that let you locate items within bluetooth range of your phone. You attach them to things you might lose such as a wallet, bag, or keys. You can then track the item with a map on your phone's screen. Some companies have gotten fancy with them and made character versions such as Star Wars or DC comics but they all work about the same and most will let you sound an alarm so you can find the item in the recesses of the couch.
Here is a picture of one off of their website:
Tile Mate from thetileapp.com
So back to my keys being in Houston. The app has a feature where other Tile users can help you locate your missing items. So when on a recent trip from New Orleans to Oklahoma City when my bags did not make it as far as I did, the airline agent was not exactly sure where my bag was. It was about this time that I got a ping on my phone. It stated that the location of "Keys" which happened to be in my missing bag was anonymously updated by the Tile community. Below it showed me a little map of the Houston airport.
Odd that a little $25 dollar keychain beat out a multi-million dollar airline.
Example of a tile being found by another user.
Disclaimer: I am a Sprint employee but received no considerations for this post. While Sprint does sell these in the store where I purchased mine. I posted this to practice my tech blogging skills.