Google is shipping the wrong phone to some Pixel 4 buyers; sloppy fulfillment or a bug?

Google is shipping the wrong phone to some Pixel 4 buyers; sloppy fulfillment or a bug?
You know how it is when you're waiting for your brand new phone to arrive. Colors look brighter, food tastes better and repeats of "The King of Queens" start sounding like Shakespeare. And then there is that magic moment when the box arrives. You rip away the packaging and find...you've been shipped the wrong phone. This is the scenario that is playing out for several Google customers who bought an unlocked Pixel 4 straight from the Google Store. After inserting the correct SIM card into the appropriate slot, the screen says, "SIM card isn’t supported. Ask Xfinity Mobile if this device can be unlocked."

The problem is that instead of receiving an unlocked unit, these unlucky consumers are being sent a Pixel 4 SIM locked to Xfinity Mobile. Oops. One post from a gentleman named Bradley Stone on the Pixel Phone Help site suggests that this has turned into a comedy of errors. Mr. Stone writes, "Well, I had the same thing. Bought a new Pixel 4, unlocked. Put my AT&T sim in and it says it isn't supported and I should contact...Xfinity?!?! So I call support. They do a cross-ship for a new phone. Got the new one, and same thing. What a POS. Haven't they tested it? This is ridiculous." Another Google customer with the name of James McCartney (Paul's son?) had a similar and no less tragic tale to share. "I have this same issue, though my error message says I must contact Xfinity Mobile to have the phone unlocked. I have spent countless hours speaking with Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, and Google and have yet to solve it. Google has sent me two replacement phones in an attempt to fix the issue. I am currently on my third Pixel 4 hoping I won't have to send this one back."

Several consumers received multiple replacement units all with the same problem


Those who ordered an unlocked Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL and found themselves receiving a device SIM locked to a carrier have been told to speak to Google about the situation. And as you can see from the posts we referenced above, some received replacement units more than once and ended up no closer to a solution. If the problem lies with a bad batch of phones, it becomes a game where users keep returning carrier-locked units until they hit upon one that is unlocked, or a software update is pushed out to fix the issue. On the other hand, if this is just a bid of sloppy order fulfillment on the part of Google, perhaps testing Pixel 4 units before they are shipped out can solve the problem.


It is a shame that the Pixel series has a reputation for delivering buggy software out of the box every year with some hardware issues tossed in every now and then (like the Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in). This was supposed to be the year that Google took the Pixel to the next level to challenge Apple and Samsung. But it left out an option for Face Unlock that would allow a user to demand that his eyes be open in order for the facial recognition feature to work. In theory, this would allow someone with evil intentions to knock a Pixel 4 owner into unconsciousness and put the phone up to his face to unlock it. Leaving this out also allows a bad actor to unlock a Pixel 4 belonging to someone who is sleeping. A software update has been promised but has yet to arrive.

The smartphone market is so competitive that even though Google is usually able to correct these bugs and miscues with software updates, they can still leave enough of a bad taste in the consumer's mouth leaving him or her to vow "never again."

Related phones

Pixel 4
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 2280 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64GB
  • Battery 2800 mAh
Pixel 4 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 3040 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64GB
  • Battery 3700 mAh

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14 Comments

1. meanestgenius

Posts: 22835; Member since: May 28, 2014

WTF?! Google just can't seem to get it right their Pixel line (most notably the flagship Pixels), whether it's the plethora of issues that Googles Pixel line has become known for, and now this. This would be hilarious if it weren't so sad that a company like Google just can't get it right.

6. Vancetastic

Posts: 1884; Member since: May 17, 2017

I don't know...they are a tiny start-up company with little to no resources...oh, wait.

7. meanestgenius

Posts: 22835; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lmao and that’s my point. For how large Google is and how long they’ve been in business, I just can’t comprehend how they can’t get it right. It’s almost as if they aren’t really trying.

13. Vancetastic

Posts: 1884; Member since: May 17, 2017

I can't figure it either. Oh well...maybe I should do the fanboy thing and say that the customers bought the phone incorrectly.

2. D34ever

Posts: 248; Member since: Jul 14, 2018

Google just doesn't give a damn about selling devices. And it shows!

3. BL4NKF4CE

Posts: 160; Member since: Aug 06, 2017

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that everywhere in the world, except the US, has their phones unlocked no matter what. Even when getting it subsidized from a carrier.

9. Charlie2k

Posts: 177; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

The U in US stands for underperforming.

4. MsPooks

Posts: 311; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

If it's any consolation, Google will soon have hundreds more support agents to ship customers the wrong phone.

5. obedchuni

Posts: 339; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

Google bring back nexus line

18. tokuzumi

Posts: 2005; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

That's what the Pixel 3a line is. I love my 3a. Very snappy phone, and very reasonably priced. It's not $350 like the later generations of Nexus devices used to be (Nexus 6 excluded). I plan to get the 4a later this year to replace my Galaxy S9 I use to connect to work.

12. inFla

Posts: 221; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

Xfinity doesn't want them, they have to get rid of them somehow. lol

15. frustyak

Posts: 249; Member since: Mar 08, 2010

You can't even buy an XFinity Mobile-locked pixel on Google's website. It's Verizon or it's unlocked. How on earth did they manage do screw it up like this?

17. tokuzumi

Posts: 2005; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Makes me wonder if the box looks any different, or if there are any markings on the box that indicate the device is a locked variant? This was most likely an issue with stocking the inventory in the warehouse. Employee probably put a case or pallet of the locked devices in the wrong location. This kind of thing happens all the time. I'm sure Google will make this right, but it is an inconvenience to have this happen.

19. cosmo100292

Posts: 13; Member since: Jul 01, 2019

As someone that has been on Android for almost a decade and personally thought the Pixel 2XL was the best Android ever released, when the 3XL released and went on sale i jumped for it thinking this was just a continuation of greatness. Sadly, I was wrong. I quickly noticed that ram/battery life were worse (3 hours SOT max) vs the 2XL and offered nothing better than my old Pixel. Then it got worse. After a couple months of ownership my 3XL randomly turned off and never turned back on. I then had to deal with Googles support which at first wasnt too bad although i was stuck without a phone for a week but also got charged full price for a replacement phone even though i was promised that it was just a "Hold" on my card. To make matters worse, the card didnt have that amount on it so my bank quickly gave me a overdraft fee. I email back the support person and he apologizes profusely and tells me that it will all be refunded as soon as they get the device as well as agreeing to get me a refund for my screen protector and device skin. Cool, ill stay optimistic. They get the device and issue a refund on the Hold for the original amount My next call was one of the worst support calls ive ever had to make. After calmly telling the support person what had happened and what needs to be done im told that they can only refund the amount on the phone, they didnt charge me an overdraft fee so they cant refund that and they dont sell my device skin/screen protector in their store so they cant refund that either. At this point im fuming so i tell her thats fine ill just notify my bank that you made a fraudulent charge to get the fees all removed. All she tells me is that i should speak to whoever promised these things to me but couldnt find any record of anyone ever speaking to me... Later that day i finally find out the original support persons email and attempt to contact them. The next day i get a call from him again apologizing and quickly gets me a refund for the phone, fees, and accessories. Although im happy everything was sorted out Im now on another 3xl with 3 hours of SOT and know that if anything happens to this phone im screwed. If this was any other manufacture making a flagship phone (Sammy, Apple) i wouldve had a replacement phone the same day mine died and would have had none of these issues. Since i cant stand TouchWiz i ultimately jumped ship back to Apple when the iPhone 11 launched and havent looked back.

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