The Pixel 4 has lots of new features, like a Snapdragon 855 processor, a second rear camera, and a 90Hz display, but one feature that it won't have on at least two major carriers is support for RCS messaging.
T-Mobile and Verizon have both said that the Pixel 4 will not support RCS messaging on their networks (via Android Police). The two carriers said as much in response to user questions on Twitter, with a T-Mo support rep saying "No, the new T-Mobile Pixels do not support RCS at this time," which could leave open the possibility of support being added later on.
Hey there, Thomas. Great question! No, the new T-Mobile Pixels do not support RCS at this time. DM us with additional questions. Thanks! https://t.co/xa3Nj2eHVd ^AlishaCombs
— T-Mobile Help (@TMobileHelp) October 15, 2019
Meanwhile, Verizon confirmed on Twitter that while the Pixel 3 supports RCS on its network, "will not yet be RCS supported by VZ at launch." That again seems to open the possibility of support being added later on.
Ouch! We're so sorry to have contributed to this confusion. You are so right, the Pixel 3 (by Google) does support RCS, as does Samsung's S9. The Pixel 4 (also by Google, not Samsung) will not yet be RCS supported by VZ at launch. We will let you know if anything changes! ^KAD
— Verizon Wireless CS (@VZWSupport) October 17, 2019
AT&T hasn't revealed whether the Pixel 4 will support RCS on its network. The one carrier who will offer it is Sprint (via The Verge), who may be the best carrier in the U.S. so far when it comes to RCS support for Android devices.
RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a messaging protocol that offers many benefits over traditional SMS texting. Those include typing indicators, read receipts, bigger group chats, and the ability to send high-quality attachments. So far, RCS hasn't gotten much support from the U.S. carriers, with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon only offering it on a handful of devices. Sprint actually partnered with Google on an RCS rollout in late 2016 and offers it on all new Android phones.
We'll just have to wait and see if T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T end up adding RCS support to the Pixel 4, but for now, folks buying a Pixel 4 shouldn't expect RCS to work unless they're on Sprint.