At their launch last week Google announced that Telstra was the official carrier partner here in Australia for the launch of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. There’s been some controversy over the launch of the phones on carriers due to US carrier Verizon apparently exerting way too much control over the phones, software and more.

According to 9to5Google, Verizon will be delivering updates to the Pixel phones rather than Google, the phones will also have pre-loaded Verizon apps and they’ve reportedly also locked bootloader meaning it will be difficult for enthusiasts to tinker with phones. There’s a lot of FUD out there, so we spoke to Telstra’s Director of Devices Andrew Volard about the launch of the phone and what users can expect.

To start with, the phones are now up for pre-order and they should be available in-store on October 20th. Telstra is the exclusive launch partner for the Pixel and Pixel XL in Australia, this means you won’t see them being offered on contract at Vodafone or Optus.

Telstra believes that their network will pair perfectly with the Google Pixel phones, which will be the first to offer the Google Assistant, a prospect that Andrew finds an exciting prospect, saying:

We’re particularly excited that the Pixel will be the first smartphone to feature Google Assistant – intelligent software that will allow our customers to have a natural conversation with their phones to get advice on everything from the fastest route to the theatre to suggestions for the best place to enjoy a meal after the show. We think it’s going to make the smartphone an even more central part of Australians’ lives.

Unfortunately while this seems like a great marriage between handset and network, the Pixel phones, just like Apples latest handset doesn’t qualify for the Telstra Blue Tick. The Blue Tick certification on Telstra simply means you can be sure that you’re experiencing the best possible coverage in regional and rural locations – for most people who live in metro areas this isn’t going to be a problem though.


The Telstra network offers some advantages for both Google, and users with access to Telstra’s 4GX network which includes Cat 11 4G LTE. Cat 11 LTE allows for download speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 200Mbps in 4GX areas, that’s seriously fast, in fact the Pixel phones are a third faster than any other phone on the market in Australia.

The combination of fast network speed and Google Assistant opens all kinds of doors for Telstra and Google, with Mr Volard saying

Thanks to the latest 4G LTE technology and Telstra’s ultra-fast mobile network, we can offer our customers the fastest mobile data speeds in Australia when using these phones on the Telstra network, helping to make the Google Assistant an even more powerful, real-time companion.


As well as fast speeds, the Telstra network offers another sought after feature: Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Both the Pixel and Pixel XL will support VoLTE out of the box on the Telstra network.

When it comes to VoLTE though, you won’t need any special firmware version for it to work. The Pixel phones from Telstra and the Pixel phones from the Google store are running the exact same firmware. If you buy a Pixel from the Google Store then VoLTE will work on the Telstra network.


That clean software experience that you get on a Pixel phone from the Google store will also be the same as the ones from Telstra. Mr Vollard advised

There are no Telstra apps pre-loaded on Pixel, phone by Google, however customers have the option of downloading the Telstra 24×7 App along with other core Google services like Duo and Allo during the device setup process.

Google has advised that the Pixel phones on Telstra will be getting updates at the same time as the phones purchased from the Google Store, however Mr Vollard advised that they will be testing updates, saying:

Yes, We test software updates as soon as they become available to ensure they meet our performance standards. Once this is complete our partners release software updates to devices.

Whether this means that Telstra will get early access to updates in order to facilitate having Google deliver the updates in a timely manner to all Pixel phones in the market is about the only conclusion we can draw here.


While Verizon have chosen to lock the bootloader on their Pixel phones, the Telstra version won’t be locked. Telstra has not requested the bootloader be locked and like the firmware it will be the same as the version available from the Google Store.


Through speaking with Telstra online chat, it also seems that people who pre-ordered the Pixel XL from Telstra will also be getting their phones, on or very close to the launch date of October 20th. Telstra may have jumped the gun with one customer already, so it’s possible but unlikely that Telstra Pixel customers may get an early surprise.


Telstra will be offering the Pixel and Pixel XL in either Very Silver and Quite Black with a choice of 32GB or 128GB storage on a variety of plans. For example customers wanting the Pixel in 32GB on a 24 month contract will be able to get the phone on the $95 Go Mobile Plus or My Business Mobile plans with 10GB (8GB + 2GB bonus) of data to use in Australia and $4/mth handset repayments.

We’ve gone into a little detail on how to hack the Telstra plans to get more for less, so that’s very much worth a read.


Interestingly for a Google Phone launch, Telstra is advertising that phones purchased on selected plans include either a 6 or 12 month Apple Music streaming membership as well as 200GB of Microsoft One Drive cloud storage. Still, it’s not bad to get a freebie or two. You also get Free and unlimited access to Telstra Air data around Australia.

There’s a range of plans available for both phone depending on the storage size you choose. You can check all the details out on the Telstra pre-order page:

Source: Telstra.
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why doesnt it have a blue tick?


why doesnt it have the blue tick?


Where’s the link to the article on how to get the most out of telstra plans? You spoke about having something then there is no link


From a Telstra rep on Facebook: Hi Luke,

Thanks for the post.

We test software updates as soon as they become available to ensure they meet our performance standards. Once this is complete our partners release software updates to devices. This is the same for the Pixel.

There are no Telstra apps pre-loaded on Pixel, phone by Google, however customers have the option of downloading the Telstra 24×7 App along with other core Google services like Duo and Allo during the device setup process.

– Dani




“We test software updates as soon as they become available to ensure they meet our performance standards. Once this is complete our partners release software updates to devices.” They’ll do the usual CSC network level block on Google’s update server. I had a Nexus 5 that I bought outright. Google released Marshmallow (from memory) but it took like a month to get the OTA. Factory reset with the Telstra SIM in and it didnt detect the OTA update; take the SIM out before doing a reset and hello Marshmallow. Long story short, there’ll still be delays. Depends how fast Telstra… Read more »


So it’s the same as the Nexus 6P from carriers here, regardless of whether you bought the phone from them or not. The OTAs were slightly delayed while networks checked them, but you could just always flash them. I’m with Optus, but bought the phone outright, but the OTAs were delayed until Optus released them to the network.

Ghost TOG

If only my contract was due for renewal….


Telstra. If you are genuinely staying out of the way of Google OS updates can I say BRAVO AND THANK YOU. This is absolutely fantastic. Seriously the best news for Android as a platform in years – perhaps ever. Finally an Android handset, purchased on a carrier plan, that can go toe to toe with the iPhone on timely feature and security updates. Not only that, we’re seeing no bloat or unwanted apps either. This is unprecedented for Android. Google has obviously done a lot of negotiation work with major carriers like Verizon, Telstra, etc but huge credit to the… Read more »


Guess we’ll have to wait and see just like verizon.

Certainly telcos could get the updates and their testing done prior, just like what happens with iOS.


Yeah nah. I’ll stick with Optus and buy the phone outright thanks. Never purchased a phone outright before, but I’m not paying exorbitant amounts for a Telstra plan.

Figured it out the other day; $40 SIM-only plan with Optus (includes unmetered music streaming and 10gb data, unlim calls and unlim SMS domestically) is $960 over 24 mths. Pixel 32gb is $1,080. Total = $2,040. Over 24 months that’s just $85/mth. Compared to Telstra (same phone with less data and no free music streaming), I’ll get more data and no delay in OS upgrades while saving more than $300.

Shakeel Ali

Well i mean a lot of people dont just hang onto outdated notions abouts carriers. Telstra also have a $40 SIM only plan, which gives you 7GB, which yes isnt as much. You also get free Apple Music, free Telstra Air usage and free 200GB of OneDrive storage. Yes, it’s a bit less data, but some people dont mind giving that up for the best coverage.


Best coverage? Depends where you are. Yeah, Telstra do have superior coverage overall, from what I understand, but in metro areas I’d say they’re much of a muchness these days. Free Apple Music is for a limited time and not the full length of the service (so it’s like claiming that the free 3-month Google Music subscription Optus provide is part of the service too). Telstra Air is a good upside though as is the OneDrive storage. Does that make up for 30% less data, being the only thing that actually varies in plans these days? In my books, no.… Read more »


No Telstra software pre-loaded is excellent. Just wondering if Telstra will still add in their own horrible looking boot logo though, like they do on other devices.

Or, is it going to be 100% pure Google? Exactly the same as if I were buying from Google direct.


Yeah I’d like to know if it has Telstra’s bit screen. Would be great if it didn’t.


Check out some AMA’s on reddit from a few folk who received their pixels early from Telstra; no carrier branding at all including boot up animation – it’s exactly the same phone as in the Google play store

Peter Kokodakis

“The Pixel phones from Telstra and the Pixel phones from the Google store are running the exact same firmware” (from the article)

That means no Telstra crapware, just pure Google experience!


Thanks. I can read. 😉 It doesn’t stop Telstra from inserting their own boot animation and other little tid-bits though. The fact Telstra want to “test” any updates before pushing them out is what bothers me. I’m not convinced in any case. If they were running the exact same firmware, why does Telstra need to get in the way of updates? They should just come direct from Google. Telstra don’t even give it the ‘blue tick’ so I’m not sure what they are actually testing it for. When they hit the Telstra stores, I’m going in there and rebooting one.… Read more »


If there’s a modified boot screen animation then it’s not a Google factory image. So I think it’s pretty safe to assume that what you’re getting from a Telstra Pixel is going to come straight from Google.

I think we need to take what Google and the carriers are saying at face value. It all sounds like pretty straight forward language – updates direct from Google. No carrier intervention.

Alan Cramer

Can’t speak for pixel. But I have a Nexus 5X from Telstra and the firmware has no Telstra bootloader nor preload.

Shakeel Ali

The biggest reason that any Telco will get in the way of updates is to make sure that no software interferes with the operation of the phone on their network. I know a lot of Nexus fans (myself included) want the latest version of Android straight away, but the fact of the matter is that if the Telco cant test the phone they have no way of making sure that it’ll work for things like data/calls. Having worked in telco for a while now, i see literally dozens of iPhone users come into store everytime Apple release an OTA with… Read more »