Ordering a Google Pixel phone in an unsupported country? Here’s what you should know
Google expanded the availability of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro to 20 markets, up from 17 markets for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. As part of the expansion, people in Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland can now buy the Pixel 8 locally. However, there are still so many markets where you can’t buy Google Pixel phones. If you’re a Pixel fan in an unsupported country, you must import the device.
This can be a daunting task especially if you don’t know your way around the internet. But in this article, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about buying a Google Pixel phone in an unsupported country, all the way from various purchase methods to missing features, aftermarket support and more.
How to buy a Pixel phone in an unsupported country
In supported countries, Pixel phones are sold through the official Google Store and 3rd-party partners such as big retailers (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.) and carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, EE, etc.). However, getting your hands on a Pixel phone in an unsupported country is a tricky affair, but here are some of your best options to explore.
Friends & relatives coming back into the country
This is by far one of the most hassle-free methods I can think of. I’ve used this on several occasions to get different products from the U.S. All you need is a friend or relative who resides in a country where the Google Pixel is sold officially, ask them to buy the phone and bring it over when coming back to your country of residence. You can also order and ask the merchant to deliver the phone to your friend’s address, pay for it and then wait for them to bring the phone to you. However, depending on the customs laws governing your country, the package may still be subject to tax on entry into the country. But they can work around this by unboxing the phone prior to boarding or declaring it as a gift, whichever works.
Buy it on your way back from a supported market
Another option to buy a Google Pixel phone when in an unsupported market is to get it when visiting a supported market. If you visit the U.S. or the UK, for instance, you can buy it locally and then come back to your country with the new phone, slide in a local SIM card and get to business as usual.
Package forwarding services
Package forwarding, also called parcel forwarding, is an international shipping service for cross-border online shopping. You’ll be assigned a U.S. or UK shipping address (depending on which country you are buying from) to use when ordering anything online. Once the Pixel phone gets to your virtual address in the U.S., it’ll be shipped to your physical address in the unsupported country.
For this, you can use popular package forwarding service providers such as Aramex Global Shopper, Delivering Parcel, MyUS, Box On Wings, Forward2me, PostScan Mail, Shipito, Reship, and FishIsFast. Unfortunately, this method can take time, probably even months, before the phone arrives at your door. Below is a comparison of the various prices these services charge as shared on the official MyUS website.
Gray market retailers
Besides package forwarding services, you can also turn to gray market retailers in your local market. There’s always someone trying to sell you the latest and hottest Google Pixel phone in your market if you look deeper. However, be ready to pay above the recommended price since these retailers factor in customs duties and their profits. But the good thing is you’ll have the phone in the shortest time possible, perhaps even hours. The likes of Amazon, eBay and even AliExpress can also come in handy in case you can’t find a local gray market retailer.
Pixel feature availability & aftermarket support in an unsupported country
Now that you know how to buy a Google Pixel phone when in an unsupported country, there are other things that you ought to know as well. In fact, depending on how deeply invested you are in the Google Pixel phone, you may want to take the next bit a little more serious.
Some Pixel features won’t work outside supported markets
For the uninitiated, there are multiple variations of Google Pixel phones depending on the market. Devices sold in the U.S. are meant to work there, while those sold in India are “customized” for the Indian market. They are better suited to local carriers and also come with localized features that won’t work outside the original market. Also, there are several Pixel-exclusive features that won’t work in unsupported countries. For instance, a Pixel phone bought in the U.S. won’t support Car Crash detection when used in Israel. Just because Call Screening is supported in Germany doesn’t mean buying from the European nation will keep the feature functional when used from South Africa.
Heck, even some basic features like VoLTE, Wi-Fi Calling and 5G support still have limited availability on Google Pixel phones. There’s no guarantee that your Pixel 8 will have 5G or VoLTE when used in Poland, for instance. Sure, the phone supports these features out of the box, but they are unavailable due to geo-locks necessitated by the different governing laws across various international borders.
In some cases the reception might not be as good because of your local carrier’s band support. But you should be able to research which bands are supported and get a good idea before buying. A good place to start is your Pixel phone’s official tech specs page.
Google Pixel aftermarket support in an unsupported country
The biggest downside of buying a Pixel phone in an unsupported market is probably warranty repairs. Besides missing features, you also won’t have any Google Pixel aftermarket support in an unsupported country. Given Google’s history with bugs and hardware issues, having aftermarket support is very important from a user perspective. But the lack of it means you’re on your own. There’s no Google-backed repair center to fix your broken screen or replace the faulty battery in your Pixel. While you can still mail it to the original country of purchase for repairs, this process isn’t always smooth, thus leaving you with 3rd-party repair centers in your region as the only viable solution to your Pixel problems.
There are good reasons to own a Pixel phone. Be it the Pixel software experience, camera performance, or the extra Pixel-only features. But their global availability remains a huge problem. However, with the tips shared in this article, you should see the pros and cons of owning a Pixel phone in an unsupported country.
If there’s no stopping you, you’ve probably made peace with the fact that you’ll be missing some of the location-based Pixel features and that you’ll be on your own if your Google Pixel phone develops any issue, major or minor.