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Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus is Now 3 Updates Behind Other Nexus Devices

If you were looking for one reason why the new Nexus 4 is not tied to a carrier, look no further than the Galaxy Nexus that is available at Verizon. The device, which carries the “Nexus” name, is now three updates behind the rest of the Nexus family of devices, something I don’t know that anyone could have imagined or predicted when it was first released almost a year ago. I don’t necessarily think we need to question whether or not this is a true Nexus, but I think now more than ever, it’s safe to say that the carrier approval process when it comes to updates, is about as broken as it gets. 

On June 27 of this year, at Google I/O, Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) was announced to the world. By July 9, it was headed to AOSP, followed by a rollout to the HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus the next day. Before July was over, the XOOM WiFi received the update, along with a couple of minor updates to the Nexus 7, which was running Android 4.1 out of the box. An entire month then went by before we saw the first Galaxy Nexus LTE leak of Jelly Bean, a build that would eventually become the official build. That was on October 28. On September 21, Verizon approved Jelly Bean for the G-Nex as build JRO03O, almost three months after Google had announced it and more than two months since the non-carrier Nexus devices received it.

It’s now November 29, and we have seen Android 4.1.2 come and go to all non-carrier Nexus devices, along with the announcement and release of the newest version of Jelly Bean, Android 4.2, which was then followed by a minor update to Android 4.2.1. I know you can count, but again, that’s three updates since Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus received Android 4.1.1. There have been no leaks of any new builds, and at this point, we have no idea if or when the phone will see any of them. I’m sure that it will, because it’s a Nexus, it’s only a year old, and we know it can run the newest software, but since we have to wait for carrier approval, it could be a while. Actually, it has already been a while.

Speaking of carrier approval, this is a brief history of how the update process works. Step 1, Google updates Android and sends a build to Verizon for approval. Step 2, Verizon puts it in their long list of updates to approve for a variety of devices. There is no special treatment, just because it’s a Nexus. Step 3, Verizon’s testing team either approves or denies the update. If approved, they give Google the thumbs-up to make it available to your phone. If it’s denied, it goes back to Google for fixing and we do it all over again. You can see how this process can take a while.

With non-carrier Nexus devices, Google approves the software, and then makes it available to your device. That’s it. Two steps. There is no middle man, hence the beauty of a non-carrier Nexus.

I called the process “broken” up above, but I’m afraid it’s much worse than that. Thankfully, it’s a Nexus, so you can still get the newest build of Android at almost any time, as long as you are down to tinker.

  • And this is why we root!

  • Grand Master CoolWhip

    What do you expect? Verizon Wireless, Too Big to Care…

    Verizon Wireless doesn’t give a $#*& about what customers want. It’s all about revenue. They figure people will still buy the phone so why put any effort into improvements. I can’t wait for Google to come out with their own wireless system.

  • Bob Guy

    We need to make Verizon feel some pain so they push this update through.

    Everyone should call Verizon once a day and ask for the update.

    Ask to talk to a manager, go as high as you can go each time.

  • geoff

    No wonder Google switched to T-Mobile for Nexus 4. Then again you don’t get any updates on that end either..so..?

  • Amenemhat1

    Not mine.

  • It’s true Verizon is delayed, but you can’t count the third digit up dates. The CDMA builds have different third digits than GSM. The VZW load will be one digit higher than the most recent 4.2.x when it drops.

  • Just unlock the boot loader and root. Latest OS in 5 to 10 minutes.

  • wm snyder

    Not mine haha. Verizon needs to refund some money for lack of updates!! It’s not even 18 months yet!!

  • prestone1

    some how iOS updates get released immediately on verizon…guess the nexus doesnt get special treatment but the iphone sure does.

  • John Mayes

    Couple of points

    1. Verizon DOES take some risk releasing a sw build on their network. I don’t know how they quantify that risk but this is one place where Android fragmentation hurts.

    2. GOOGLE really doesn’t have pull with the carriers. Hardware manufacturers do have pull. Apple has a LOT of pull since they make things really easy on the carriers. They have really limited models with HUGE volumes. They have created a tremendous pull. iPhones practically fly off the shelves. And on their limited models, Apple is really good at sw compatibility.

    I am a Verizon Galaxy Nexus user who chooses not to root. I knew what I was getting into with Verizon. But I like their service so I choose to put up with them.

  • Is there some way to get out of the Verizon contract because of this issue?

  • iiBinxx

    This is one of the things that I don’t like about verizon they are ALWAYS behind on updates for their devices

  • Peter Heitman

    I bought the Galaxy Nexus from Verizon specifically because it was a Nexus. I proudly mentioned to people that I would be getting frequent updates and always have the latest and greatest version of Android for my phone. I’ve since installed a custom rom on it (bugless beast) so I’m not waiting on Verizon any more, but I’ll not by a Nexus device from Verizon again. I may as well buy some other Android phone since I’m going to have to root it anyway

  • BrianLipp

    id still rather be with a Nexus on Verizon and be behind on updates (if not rooted) than not have a Nexus on Verizon at all

  • Shartricio

    This is why Google asked the government for openness on the new frequency blocks. The governemnt said ok, and set a $4.6 billion dollar bid to ensure open frequency no matter who owned it. Google then bid the $4.6 billion just to open Verizons LTE, hence why we have the opportunity to download whatever app, and Verizon can’t block. They also will have to accept ALL LTE only phones, but none have been made yet. Google is forcing Verizon into this over time and that is a good thing. Soon with VoLTE and enough coverage Verizon will look more like AT&T, policy wise. Hopefully I’ll still have unlimited data by that point!

  • Mark Wilk

    The Verizon GNex was a necessary experiment by Google and I’d bet is the reason they launched the Nexus 4 unlocked and not tied to any carrier. This strategy should have carriers worried given the price of the Nexus 4 is near subsidized pricing without the 2-yr commitment.

  • DanWazz

    Google needs to remind Verizon that they’re the ones that saved them when Apple was exclusive with AT&T. Kinda B.S. that VZW can’t do Google a solid for this one phone. Also, it’s a learning experience; If you want an Android phone that gets the latest and greatest software, don’t get one on Verizon.

  • cb2000a

    Verizon has serious issues when it comes to having good devices and keeping the software up to date.

  • stewie

    Too bad for the unrooted masses.

  • Great article, no LTE for my Nexus 4? Thank goodness, when I buy a Nexus device I expect the Google updates to roll through, the CDMA GNex is such a mistake, thank you Google for not going this involving Verizon or any other carrier that would get between you and your superb devices.

  • Ryan

    After the Verizon nexus non-launch and this, I wonder why the Nexus 4 isn’t available on Verizon……..