You bought a Google Pixel in an unsupported country: What you should know

Google Pixel 7 Pro back camera cover
Hadley Simmons/Android Authority

The Google Pixel 7 series is a landmark release in many ways, as it marks the first time since the Pixel 3 series that Pixel flagships have returned to India. It’s also seeing Google expand into a few brand new markets, like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

Despite this expansion, there are still a lot of markets that Google phones can’t reach. Avid users in these areas need to import the hardware, so I ended up buying a Pixel 7 Pro to use in South Africa – an unsupported country – and here’s what I learned along the way.

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How to buy a Pixel 7 “elsewhere?”

Google Pixel 7 outdoor screen

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

There are several options at your disposal if you want to purchase a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro in an unsupported region.

For starters, you can make use of packet forwarding services if you are unable to send the request to a friend or relative in the supported area. These services provide you with a US shipping address to use when ordering anything online, and then forward the order to your real address. Some of the most popular services in this regard include MyUS, Aramex Global Shopper, and FishIsFast.

Another solution is to use a gray import store or site. These websites usually come with huge brands, factoring in tariffs and a healthy profit. You’re bound to find a local gray import retailer in your market, but you can also check out more reputable websites like Amazon and AliExpress.

A gray market retailer and package forwarding service are two popular ways to buy a Pixel 7 in an unsupported region.

Either way, you’ll have to deal with customs duties in some form (whether that’s part of the delivery process or part of the total order cost) when using a forwarding service or a gray import retailer.

Another obvious option is to buy a Pixel 7 if you’re traveling to a supported market. It only makes sense financially if you plan to travel there anyway. However, this is exactly what I did on a recent business trip to the States. I alerted my hotel via email, assigned my Amazon delivery address to the hotel, and ordered the Pixel 7 Pro a week before I traveled.

Finally, you can also arrange with a friend or family member who lives in (or visits) the subsidized market to return the device to you. You set the delivery address for your online order to their address, pay for the order, and then simply wait for them to bring your new phone to you.

What about fixes for pixels in an unsupported country?

Google Pixel 7 Pro screen

Hadley Simmons/Android Authority

This is the biggest reason to avoid importing a tech product into an unsupported country. Simply put, you are on your own when it comes to after-sales support for your new Pixel 7. This means that you cannot stroll into a local first-party repair center if the device has any serious defects or accidental damage such as a cracked screen.

You may also have problems mailing your broken Pixel 7 back to the country of original purchase for repairs. So third party repair centers in your area is your best bet after visiting the home country and walking to an official repair center. In this regard, some gray import services offer their own guarantee.

Related: do not worry; These things are normal on the new Pixel 7

This lack of official support is especially important to Google phones given the company’s reputation for bugs and occasional hardware issues. Despite this, the Pixel 7 series appears to be more polished than previous devices so far.

The lack of an official market presence also means that you’ll want to buy any desired accessories (cases, screen protectors, chargers, etc.) besides the phone. Otherwise, you’ll need to import these add-ons if you choose to purchase them after the fact.

What won’t work in an unsupported market

Google Pixel 7 in white

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Right off the bat, there are several Pixel exclusive features that won’t work in unsupported countries. Those missing features are largely centered on calls, such as the call screen, direct my calls, hold me up, and hold times. (But these are mostly US exclusives and not available in some official markets either.) It’s also worth stressing that the free Google One VPN service for Pixel owners isn’t available outside of supported countries either. In fact, two of the Pixel 7 launch countries do not have access to this feature either, India and Singapore.

All of the Pixel 7’s camera features are there and accounted for, thankfully. So those who want to use Photo Unblur, Magic Eraser, Motion Mode and other camera-related functions can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Pixel line’s calling features don’t work in unsupported markets, but there are issues with VoLTE and 5G as well.

Unfortunately, many reports indicate that VoLTE functionality is hit and miss (often missing) in unsupported markets. We’ve also seen many reports of 5G not working in unsupported countries even though the phones have the required 5G bands. There are unofficial ways to enable these two features, but they usually require fairly extensive fixes for people who aren’t tech-savvy.

Moving on with network-related matters, you should also make sure that your Pixel 7 is compatible with your network. You can find supported network bands for your Pixel line in the Network section of the official technical specification webpage, then either visit your cellular network’s website or use a third-party resource such as Frequency Check to see what bands your desired carrier uses.

So is it worth importing a Pixel 7?

Pixel 7 pro on the back panel

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

You really need to be at peace with the fact that if something goes wrong with your new Pixel phone, you are on your own and will need to rely on third party services. Missing features are also a big problem, especially for VoLTE now that we’re moving away from 3G.

Despite these risks, the Pixel 7 series is certainly very good value for money, especially compared to other more expensive flagships. The Pixel-only Pixel UI experience, camera performance, and additional features can have so much appeal to potential buyers, and there’s no point in fighting fans’ desire to get the phone they want, no matter where they live. You just have to weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

Plus, it’s safe to say that the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro seem to offer a much more polished software and hardware experience than the Pixel 6 series. We didn’t see major bugs or terrible wireless like with 2021 phones. So if you’re going to buy a Pixel on the market, Unsupported, this is not the worst time.

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