Last year, our pick for the best smartphone of 2016 was a no-brainer. Sadly, Samsung’s Galaxy was a ticking time bomb—possibly due to ill-fitting batteries—so we went with the runner-up: Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL.
The Pixel was a surprise in many ways. In spite of its average design and fairly boring features, it won us over with its excellent camera and emphasis on simplicity. You’d be hard pressed to find a cleaner, more enjoyable Android experience.
Unfortunately, as other outlets have noted, Google is doing a pretty terrible job of keeping the Pixel in stock, which is ridiculous considering the device launched back in October. Did the company not account for demand? It sure seems that way.
The Pixel is Google’s first crack at the smartphone market, so you’d expect there to be supply issues. But finding a Pixel XL at a reasonable price is next to impossible. It’s not in stock from Google, and Verizon lists an estimated shipping time of March depending on what color you choose.
You can procure the handset through other means, such as Amazon or eBay, but you’ll likely have to pay over retail price. If you search for the 128GB Pixel XL on Amazon, prices range from $1,400 to $1,800 from third-party sellers. It proves the lack of supply is driving up the price. And that’s bad for consumers.
You’d expect this from a smaller company. OnePlus, for example, has struggled to keep up with demand in the past. But even the diminutive Chinese startup has mostly ironed out its manufacturing issues. If you want a Pixel XL, the best Google can offer is to send you an email when the device becomes available. The search giant hasn’t provided a timeframe for when that will be.
At a time when the shadow of bigger flagships loom, Google’s lack of Pixel XL stock couldn’t be worse. This is the device that’s supposed to pry consumers away from the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. But if these consumers can’t get their hands on one, then Google is failing.
Supply issues are common in the world of mobile, especially right after launch. And, to be fair, the 5-inch model is in stock through Google’s website, though only in specific variants. But it has been over three months since the Pixel and Pixel XL launched, and supply is still an issue.
Google hasn’t revealed how many Pixel phones have been sold, nor has the company said when certain models will be back in stock. Hopeful buyers might not have any other choice but to take their business elsewhere. With Mobile World Congress on the horizon, the Pixel will soon be up against tougher competition, and no amount of stock may be able to account for that.