Opinion: Are The 2016 Nexus Devices Coming To Verizon?

Nexus devices have generally been about one thing over the years - showcasing the very best of Android and what it has to offer in its purest form. While things with Google’s coveted Nexus line have changed a bit since the Nexus One, there has been a couple or a few constants that fans of the device franchise could usually expect to continue, one of which was the pure stock experience, as well as fast software updates. Once carriers began selling Nexus devices, some users were worried that the speed of updates wouldn’t continue. For the most part this was merely a fear save for when it came to Verizon with the likes of the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy Nexus was sold at multiple carriers, including T-Mobile and Sprint, but Verizon’s model saw considerably slower updates processes compared to the unlocked and additional carrier models. This was likely a big reason why they didn’t carry the Nexus 4 when it was released the following year. Fast forward to the Nexus 6 from 2014, and a similar issue arose as Verizon again rolled updates out to their version of the device slower than the other models. This was in addition to launching the device more than four months later than every other carrier as well as Google through their own online device store, which saw the phones launching in November of 2014 while Verizon’s model didn’t launch until March of 2015.

It’s these kinds of instances that should lead to Google questioning whether or not having carriers pick up the device is even worth it, or at the very least whether it’s worth it for Verizon to be one of those carriers. This sort of scenario is what makes it interesting following recent rumors that Verizon would be selling the two new Nexus devices this year. It’s entirely possible that they won’t sell either device, but they have sold the Nexus phones before and Verizon isn’t the only carrier that has been rumored to sell both phones. Sprint was rumored prior to Verizon as the exclusive carrier for each device, although if that were the case it would likely be a timed exclusive. Taking these things into consideration, Is Verizon going to sell the two new Nexus devices this year?

Although it seems that Google tends to skip a year or two before selling Nexus devices on carriers as opposed to the Google Store, this is really only the case with Verizon, as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 were also both sold through carriers, save for Verizon. So while it could be another year before Verizon picks up a Nexus device, a rumor about them selling this year’s Nexus devices at the very least has people questioning whether or not it’s possible. One has to also consider the fact that the first carrier rumor stated that Sprint would be the exclusive carrier. Although this wouldn’t necessarily make sense on Google’s part to limit the devices to one carrier here in the U.S., it’s also not impossible as even one carrier would be more exposure than just the Google store and would certainly allow more customers access to the device.

Of course, if Verizon were to sell one of or both new Nexus devices this year, the same questions that have surfaced with past Nexus devices sold on their network would most likely arise. Would they be able to push out software updates as fast as Google and the other carriers? Would they support the software updates for the same period of time? And, would the device offer up the same stock experience as one could expect from the unlocked model? If the answer to any of these questions would be a firm “no” chances are that it would be in regards to the timely software updates as this is where Verizon had issues before. It shouldn’t be forgotten though that Verizon’s Nexus 6 variant did end up with their backup app pre-installed. In fact, any model whether it be unlocked or from another carrier, would have this Verizon Backup app pre-installed if the phone was used on Verizon’s network before having received the Android 5.1 Lollipop software update. While this is only one app, it was an app which couldn’t be uninstalled or disabled. Then again, the Sprint model of the Nexus 6 also came with a pre-installed Sprint system app. The point is, if this was the state of the Verizon variant of the Nexus 6, which, not forgetting came out more than four months later than every other model, it’s highly likely that the same thing would happen if Verizon carried either the Sailfish or Marlin (or both) Nexus phones, and that, if nothing else, would probably put off some people from purchasing the device to use for Verizon’s network and instead choose to simply buy the device unlocked from the Google Store, or from another carrier entirely.

Taking the possibility of a lone system app coming installed on the device out of box into consideration, this is a very minor thing in comparison to software updates which come though at later points than other models. When Google began to push Android 6.0 Marshmallow out to the Nexus 6 last fall, Verizon’s variant didn’t receive the software until the following month. This is certainly not acceptable especially in this day and age when Google is pushing out security patches on a monthly basis to Nexus devices, usually within the first week of the month. Security patches which can be very important and contain fixes for sometimes  critical vulnerabilities. Having said that, Verizon has gotten better about pushing updates to devices more quickly, and one month is not so bad when compared to the likes of Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus model, which didn’t receive Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean until four months after Google released it for other models. A Four month wait for a software update to the Galaxy Nexus, and a four month wait for Verizon customers to purchase the Nexus 6. It’s not enough to be a pattern, but then again consumers don’t want to have wait four months for a device or new software when other versions of the device are already available, and having to continually wait on Verizon in regards to updates or a Nexus phone release opens up room for questioning their ability to offer the same quality of a nexus experience as everyone else.

All of that aside, there are a number of really good reasons why Verizon should carry the Nexus devices this year. Verizon does tend to have the most reliable network and offer the widest coverage area, and this sort of network availability plays very nicely with any device, let alone a Nexus. Verizon also has the most customers, and more customers means more chances for the Nexus devices to gin more recognition, which is always a good thing or both Google and the Nexus franchise. Of course, if Verizon does carry the Nexus devices this year, it also affords them another opportunity to present customers with a Nexus experience that is on par with Google and other carriers in regards to both a phone release and software updates. It's still too early to tell whether or not Verizon, or any carriers for that matter, will end up selling the new Nexus phones this year, but it would be nice for consumers to have the ability to purchase the device in store and walk out with it instead of ordering the device through Google and waiting for it to be shipped out.

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About the Author

Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.