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Google Issues Statement Regarding CDMA Nexus Devices

We reached out to Google to see if we could get some clarification or reasoning as to why CDMA devices would no longer be “supported” as developer devices and they responded. Dan Morril, an Android engineer who you may be familiar with, provided an explanation at this Google Group’s page:

Hello! This is a quick clarification about support for CDMA devices.

For various technical reasons, recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers. To function correctly, these .apk files must be signed by the so-called “platform” key. However, when an individual creates a custom build from the AOSP source code, they don’t use the same signing key as these CDMA flies were signed with.

The result is that these files don’t work properly, and pure AOSP builds running on these devices can’t place calls, access mobile data, and so on. Because we aim to make sure that we are as clear as possible about the degree of support that devices have, we updated the docs over at source.android.com to reflect this reality.

We will still make available as many as possible of the closed-source binaries for these devices, and Nexus devices will continue to have unlockable bootloaders. And, of course, GSM/HSPA+ devices are still supported, as are any other devices we’re able to support. We’ve simply updated the documentation to be clearer about the current extent of CDMA support.

We are of course always working to improve support, and we’ll keep everyone updated as we make improvements. Thanks as always for your interest in AOSP!

So basically, CDMA is not widely supported as we mentioned earlier and is also simply a pain in the ass. From what we have been told though, the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon is still a “Nexus” and will continue to be updated in a timely manner, but Google is simply making it clear that a device running a CDMA radio cannot be officially “supported” since its files are signed differently from AOSP code. If that makes any sense.

And devs in the building, please feel free to clarify that further.

  • Mymuzik73

    I emailed google and this is what they sent back to me in a email. Hello! Thank you for writing to us.

    The media reports are confusing our statement about support for CDMA devices. Android and Google will certainly continue to support CDMA devices going forward.

    We have only dropped support for these devices as Android developer phones for Android open source development (ie. for people who want to configure and load their own Android distribution on devices) because they require some closed source modules from the OEM and/or operator. In other words, we just can’t open source all of the code on these devices, but they will certainly be supported and receive updates to new platform releases in future.

    Sorry for the confusion. Please see the updated media reports (http://briefmobile.com/dan-morrill-dont-worry-cdma-nexus-still-supported), and statement from our open source team here: https://groups.google.com/forum/? fromgroups#!topic/android-contrib/phz3S5ZdveU

    Thanks for your interest in Android!

    – The Android Compatibility Team

  • Wmsco51

    I hear all the reasons for why but here is my statement : what happened to stand behind your product and having all your ducks in a row before releasing! Is this the 2012 business policy dump on the customer! In my book, take it off the shelves and offer full rebates or make it right!! And take the faltering party to court for breach of contract or agreement, not dumping on the customer. Is this what we are to expect from major business oops sorry tuff crap but thanks for your money see ya by by now you have a nice day.!? @$%#@$%#

  • Megatron

    I knew this device was going to be a disaster from the hardware to the carrier and now technically isn’t even a real AOSP device……

  • morespeed

    List Anything You Want For Free Here! http://www.monsterrlister.com

  • Anonymous

    Google seriously needs to hire better Public Relations personnel.  

  • I’m going to hold off on being upset over this for now, and see how it plays out. I don’t have the time, nor know how to go the custom ROM route, so that’s not an easy solution for me. Regardless, I have had signal issues, as well as connectivity and battery issues. Not good for my work email, that’s for sure. That being said, if I don’t see 4.0.3 fairly soon, I’m going to be fairly upset. What bothers me about this is that these are not problems I had with my Rezound (yes I understand, new firmware, issues will happen, etc.). I will say though, even with those issues, which can be fixed, I’m loving this thing. I even got over the lack of mass storage quickly, and devs are updating their apps to support 4.0 pretty quickly it seems. Pure ICS is awesome, bottom line..

  • Tam

    Likewise this also seems to be the situation in my place. But unlike the lucky CDMA users we still got our question unanswered. 

    I am from Hong Kong, and I am now using a GSM version of Galaxy Nexus. You should have known not all Galaxy Nexus are created equals. For GSM version we have a “yakju” build which updates are pushed directly from Google. But other builds (like yakjuxw, yakjuzs) aren’t. The Galaxy Nexus in Hong Kong (and Taiwan and some othe replaces) are “yakjuzs” builds.

    We learned that non-yakju builds are not updated by Google but from Samsung, and we need to ask Samsung for the update timeframe. But when we asked Samsung, they clarify that they are not going to update our phone because this is none of their business. They affirm it is Google to update our phone.

    BOTH GOOGLE AND SAMSUNG HAVE DENIED RESPONSIBILITY PUSHING UPDATE TO OUR PHONES. And both party remains complete silence when we ask them to clairfy the matter.

    I can tell you that this is the most terrible Nexus device experience which I never expected to have. The situation now is that we are stilling on 4.0.1 but new phones selling in the retails have 4.0.2 preloaded. And no, we are not asking for an update, we are just asking WHO is responsible to push an update. 

    You may check the unanswered thread right here:

  • iphone 5, here i come. 

    • Adam Brandt

      WOOHOO!!!!!, at least they do what they want and don’t let ANY carrier boss them around

    • Tim242

      You mean 6.

    • Anonymous

      Due for release sometime in 2016. I hear it might even have a 720p display this time. 

  • none

    Probably has a lot to do with CDMA, PCMAG had a really good article about the sick level of control CDMA carriers have and back in early december had an article about how a Nexus can never be a true Nexus phone on CDMA due to carrier involvement. But it probably has a lot to do with Google trying to temper Samsung’s momentum too. A lot of people think Samsung is gaining leverage to eventually make demands on the Android platform due to their success in the market. Finally we have Motorola because in a couple of years (3-4) it will probably get dissolved by Google or become the de facto carrier of the Nexus line since Google will improve integration of the hardware with their own technicians.

    • none

      it would have been nice to get updates before everyone but this was pretty much VZW b*tch slapping us to maintain control on their network. I’m still loving the phone and we have enough devs who know what they are doing. If a dev with a GSM phone gets their hands on that updated phone, guess who will port it over to us CDMA punks weeks and months before Motorola HTC etc. I hate to admit it but I can’t use anything but VZW, they do have the best network. Does being the first to the update mean I have to give up their excellent service? I don’t know. 

      • DBK

        Google will still update the Nexus. They just can’t “officially” support CDMA devices running custom ROMs because their signatures are different from ASOP signatures. This is just a “covering their behinds” thing, so no need to worry.

  • Joe

    HA! +1 for me who went for the GSM vs the el crapo CDMA model.  Verizon sucks my grandma’s b*llz.

    • Adam Brandt

      I envy you, I was SO CLOSE to doing that too, and I payed CASH for the CDMA one.  Blech, I wish I had gone GSM