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I tried signing up for Google's Pixel Pass, but it was too much of a hassle
In October 2021, Google launched a new subscription service called Pixel Pass. Designed as a response to the Apple One subscription program, Google’s version gives you a smartphone and various paid Google services for one monthly fee.
If this is the first you’re hearing about this, that’s not surprising. Google announced the program in a blog post but has done little to spread the word since then. This is a bit strange considering the convenience Pixel Pass offers. On paper, anyone who is deep into the Google ecosystem would love this service.
In-depth coverage: What is Pixel Pass and is it worth your money?
But that’s just the problem: if you are already in the Google ecosystem, Pixel Pass is not friendly to you. It’s totally bizarre. It’s almost as if Google designed it to be incredibly useful for people who have never paid for a Google service while simultaneously making it downright punishing for existing customers.
Myself, I tried signing up for Pixel Pass recently. I gave up quite early in the process.
Anyone over 13 years of age with a personal Google account living in the United States. You can’t use work or student Google Accounts.
What do you get with Google’s Pixel Pass?
Google’s Pixel Pass gets you a factory unlocked smartphone, a more robust hardware warranty, and subscriptions to four of Google’s best services. All of that comes in as one monthly fee. This keeps your subscription services simple (because they are all in one payment) while also saving you money.
Choose your phone:
- Pixel 6a — $37 per month
- Pixel 6 — $45 per month
- Pixel 6 Pro — $55 per month
Get these services:
- Seamlessly upgrade your phone every two years
- Preferred Care: Easily repair your broken phone for free
- 200GB of Google One storage (upgradeable for a fee)
- YouTube Premium with ad-free videos
- YouTube Music Premium with ad-free music
- Google Play Pass: Hundreds of games/apps with no ads or in-app purchases
Regardless of which phone you pick, this service saves you some money. If you were to buy a 128GB Pixel 6 Pro outright and subscribe to each service individually with annual payments, it would cost you $1,457.94 over two years. With Pixel Pass, the same package would cost you $1,320, a saving of just under $138. Notably, combining Pixel Pass with a Google Fi subscription can save even more money.
If you subscribe to Pixel Pass through Google Fi, you can save $5 off your monthly bill. For this to work, your Pixel Pass phone must be connected to Google Fi.
Google is offering a no-brainer service and locking it behind unnecessary restrictions.
When you combine all this with the convenience of having everything under one payment and the ability to seamlessly transition to a new Pixel every two years, Google is offering a great service.
This all makes Pixel Pass seem like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, it’s not so simple.
No. In order for Pixel Pass to work, you need to get a new phone through the program.
Here’s where things go wrong
Google does not make it easy for folks who already have one or more Google subscriptions to use the Pixel Pass service. In the cases of YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium, you need to cancel your current subscriptions manually. When you sign up for Pixel Pass under the same Google account, you’ll find your playlists and library carried over. But still, canceling manually isn’t very convenient.
This is even less convenient for folks who pay for those two services (or Google One and Play Pass) through other companies. If you do, you’ll need to manually cancel that as well, or else risk the possibility of paying twice for the same service!
You'll need to manually cancel some of your paid Google services before joining Pixel Pass.
Another huge inconvenience is that you can’t use YouTube family plans with Pixel Pass. If you share any premium YouTube services with your family or friends, that will need to stop. You can’t even upgrade to a family plan after the fact — there simply is no YouTube family support with Pixel Pass.
This is all very curious, considering Google One plans up to 200GB and Play Pass subscriptions don’t need to be canceled before signing up for Pixel Pass. Additionally, if you already have Google One or Play Pass and share it with family members, that sharing carries over. However, you can’t sign up if you’re a member (rather than the owner) of a Google One family plan. There are plenty of caveats, but YouTube is particularly messy.
If you have a 200GB plan, you don’t need to do anything before joining Pixel Pass. If you have anything larger than 200GB, you need to lower that subscription to 200GB before you sign up for Pixel Pass, and then reupgrade. However, you can avoid this, for some reason, but buying Pixel Pass through the Google Store.
Also, what happens if you decide to cancel Pixel Pass? Your access to the four services here would terminate. Then you’d need to manually re-sign up for them all over again. You also can’t prorate your payments for the services if you cancel. In other words, if you cancel Pixel Pass on the second of the month, you can’t get a refund for the month of services you already paid for. Assuming you’d re-sign up for at least some of those services that same day, you’d be paying for them twice.
All this combined makes Pixel Pass no good for me, a guy who is already neck-deep into the Google ecosystem. Isn’t that weird? Google has this great program that offers convenience and savings for its customers, and the people who are already committed to Google don’t really benefit from it.
As a final note here, I’m lucky to even have this option at all. Pixel Pass is only open to folks in the United States, so a huge swathe of Google users aren’t even eligible.
No. If you are a member of a Google One, YouTube Premium, or Play Pass family group, you must leave that group. Conversely, you could use a different Google account for Pixel Pass.
Pixel Pass is great, but Google needs to fix it before I’ll sign up
Let me make this perfectly clear: I want to join Pixel Pass. With the Google Pixel 7 Pro around the corner, I would love to grab that and pay all my Google subscription fees in one swoop. Paying $55 each month for the services I already have while getting an easily fixable pro-level smartphone I can upgrade every two years? I’m totally on board.
Are you interested in Pixel Pass?
However, I can’t sign up under these limitations (and there are a lot of them). Google needs to fully support family plans within Pixel Pass, first off. Second, I shouldn’t need to cancel my YouTube Premium subscription to move over to Pixel Pass. Finally, if I decide to leave the program, I shouldn’t be punished by needing to re-signup for everything all over again.
No family support and existing subscription hassle makes Pixel Pass a no go for me.
For what it’s worth, the Apple One program solves a lot of these issues. Signing up for Apple One only changes the programs you are not currently subscribed to, for example. Also, all of the Apple One services support family plans. Obviously, Apple One doesn’t include an iPhone or an extended warranty, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Regardless, it gets the services aspect down pat, and Google’s is a mess.
Continued reading: The best Google products you can buy
I can only hope Google has some big plans for Pixel Pass this year. If the Pixel 7 series launches with a better version of Pixel Pass that addresses these issues, it will become a no-brainer solution for all Google fiends. If Google can also open it up to users outside the US, that would be even better. As it is now, though, the program is more of a hassle than anything else and is something I can’t get behind personally, let alone recommend to others.