However, this policy changed with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (read the HotHardware review here). Instead, Verizon says that its smartphones have to be first activated on its network before they can be unlocked for use on other carriers. Once the phone is activated, Verizon says that it will unlock the device within 24 hours. The company said that it has initiated this new policy to help reduce theft at its retail stores.
After facing backlash from those that purchased a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL for full price and then attempted to use it unlocked right way, Verizon is now reversing course. However, the move is only temporary.
In a statement released to The Verge, a Verizon representative stated, “At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores. We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future.”
So, if you purchased a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL from Best Buy, and haven't been able to unlock it -- you should be able to do so for the foreseeable future without first activating it with Verizon. But rest assured that Verizon is likely to bring the restrictions back online at some point.
With that being said, the number of people that this would really affect is probably somewhat limited. Most people that purchase a Pixel 3 from Verizon or Best Buy are likely doing so on an installment plan, and would of course be beholden to Verizon's network.
Who this really seems to affect are people that want to buy a phone off-contract specifically from Best Buy, for whatever reason (i.e. to use a store gift card or to have it in-hand immediately). But for those that want to pay the full cost of the phone upfront and not have to worry about carrier locking headaches, they can just buy it direct from the Google Store and have it shipped.