Google Pixel 3A: Where is AT&T?

Google's latest phones will head to most major US carriers, but where is AT&T?

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read

With the launch of the Pixel 3A and 3A XL Google is finally taking its phones to other major carriers not named Verizon . T-Mobile , Sprint  and US Cellular will all be selling the phones, plus the Pixel 3 , on their respective websites and in their stores. (Google's own Project Fi will also still offer the devices). 

One carrier who won't be directly selling the devices: AT&T

As with other Pixel devices, unlocked versions of the 3A will work fine on AT&T's 4G LTE network, something Google called out during its I/O keynote. The Google Play Store will still sell unlocked Pixels so prospective AT&T users should have no problems finding the phone. 

The question, however, is why AT&T isn't selling Google's latest when all of its rivals are. 

Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL look familiar, but are more affordable

See all photos

"To get the other carriers, Google likely needed to tell the other carriers it would ask AT&T last," Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst of Moor Insights and Strategy, tells CNET. "It's all negotiation at this point. AT&T carries many midrange phones from other makers and it's not like consumers are picketing the company to carry Google Pixels."

AT&T declined to comment. 

Getting on to AT&T, which currently has nearly 94 million subscribers on it's prepaid and postpaid wireless plans, would've been a big boost for Google as it looks to expand and grow its Pixel brand. While phones are available from a number of retailers, many people still buy their phones directly from wireless carriers.  

Read more: Pixel 3 phones aren't selling, and it's probably Verizon's fault

"Google needs as much retail distribution as it can get, so this is a loss," says Avi Greengart, lead analyst of Techsponential. "But to put it in context, a bigger issue is the fact that Google has not increased distribution to new markets outside the US."

Another possibility, Greengart notes, is that the two sides simply couldn't come to an agreement in time for Tuesday's announcement. He adds that it's possible "AT&T could offer the Pixel line in the future."