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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.

  • dylan84

    To be honest…when they announced the GNex for Verizon I knew that this was exactly what was going to happen. Doesnt surprise me one bit.

  • Stephen Hazel

    Well, verizon is pretty cool with allowing people to root their phones. Mine is running the latest google has and it’s running pretty DANG well.

  • Jon Bishop

    I will never again sign a two year contract for a phone. It wouldn’t be so bad, but I LOVE the new keyboard on my Nexus7 and would kill to have it on my phone.

  • Crack Ass Cracker

    Verizon has officially become a joke. They can’t keep devices up on the latest software and if you have an unlimited plan they will use any excuse to screw you out of your plan.

  • T

    Unlock and Root – Custom Rom = problem solved / end of discussion

    • MrWicket

      while I get your point and have done this myself. it’s not the real solution to the problem. you should root and rom for fun not necessity.

  • Rob Reason

    To be honest i wouldn’t care about 4.1.2 or 4.2.1 they are minor updates but this definitely illustrates how broken VZW’s system is. What I don’t get is why Google doesn’t just release the factory images for the LTE Variant.

  • Michael


  • Mark

    Again, if you buy a Nexus, just root and rom! It’s that simple! 4.2.1 on my VZW Nexus. Jelly Belly 10.3.

  • Mike


  • joejoe5709

    I was very scared to venture into ROM’s until Jelly Bean. I got so sick and tired of waiting that I was forced to learn. For me, it’ll all about the dev community. I could care less what carrier it’s on.

  • Would you call the 2 latest releases from google worthy of an update? With all the bugs that 4.2 brought I’m sure verizon would have rejected it anyways.

  • Fernando Montenegro

    is 3 OFFICLA updates behind!!! I have Nexus Galaxy from Verizon with Android 4.2.1 🙂

  • If you want 4.2.1 on your Verizon Galaxy Nexus, run this ROM: http://rootzwiki.com/topic/36706-romaosp42111282012-shiny-ota-like-stock-android-421-jop40d-no-bugs/

    There are no bugs and everything works!

    It requires no root access and is the stock image that “would be” released by Verizon’s slow-as-molasses ass. Enjoy!

  • Leftlane

    It’s not about Google or Samsung, it’s about Verizon not serving or caring about customer

  • Bigwavedave25

    After the fact that Verizon is a huge bottleneck to releasing Android software updates to its phones…
    Let’s be honest here. The only people who care about instantly having the latest release from Google are those who are constantly reading blogs like this and are generally into tinkering with their phones. Therefore it doesn’t really matter that Verizon is so late to the party. I know this doesn’t slow me down from having 4.1.2 running on my phone. And people like my 60+ yr old parents could care less that they are still on Gingerbread. They are FINE with what they have.

  • Lesser Version

    If someone bought a GNex on VZW for the specs(ok, but not cutting edge when released) or with the expectation that VZW would push updates fast(never happened, never will) then you bought the wrong phone on the wrong carrier. A Nexus is generally known as a phone for people who like to tinker, hack, flash, and develop for. Always running the latest Android version here rooted, unlocked, and rom’d. The only good, OTA updates are from Verizon are updated radios. Doesn’t make it right though….

  • Scott

    I updated my wife’s iPhone 4S to the most recent OS. I downloaded it and installed. Wala. It was ready right away with none of this clearing cache 20 times to force the update. The simplicity was wonderful. Too bad the phone can’t do anything else.

  • markgbe

    Glad I switched to a nexus 4.

  • I just tweeted all the Verizon official twitter handles this article. I hope you all do the same. Maybe if they see enough of it they will start paying attention instead of ignoring us.

  • chad

    there is a reason Verizon tests the build. I wouldn’t want 4.2 with all the bugs it has. I would rather get 4.2.1 or higher when they get the bugs worked out.

  • Verizon are wireless terrorists. As low as they get.

  • renGek

    One way to look at it is that most people who wanted the GN knows what they are doing and will more than likely root and flash roms themselves. So I would expect a large portion of the GN user group won’t care about what VZ isn’t doing.

    VZ is obviously a telecomm company 1st and software distant 2nd, 3rd.. They just don’t have the process in place to deal with stuff like this. In fact, I suspect its to their advantage to not upgrade phones and sell you a new one instead.

    My beef with VZ is not necessarily with the updates since I can manage them myself. My beef is their apple like “I want to control everything” mentality. To the point of preventing users from using something useful like google wallet. I have 1 year left on this contract and then I am done with VZ.

  • Michael Wilson

    So this is how I stick it to Verizon. The only reason it appears to be low in November is due to switching numbers, otherwise averaging 18.9 GB a month with tethering. Fackwors Verizon. Fackwors.

  • While disappointing, I’m not too worried. CM and AOKP are pretty good about integrating the latest versions to hit AOSP into their ROMs and they’re both building for toro devices. 🙂

  • JulianZHuang

    and this is why i left VZN to ATT, GN to i5.

  • What i am confused on is why their phones are never compatible with Verizon. I have heard it has something to do with their Towers? Im not sure but i would like to understand.

    • SeanBello

      AT&T & T-Mobile use gsm technology, who’s drivers are open. Verizon & Sprint use cdma who’s drivers are each signed by their respective carriers. on Verizon, in order for the update to be given access to their network the update is subject to the inefficient process above. same with Sprint, except the gnex isn’t supported because they won’t even give Google access to the drivers so it was dropped from aosp.

  • strows

    I don’t even bother waiting for the update, always running newest version of CM 10. Also once Google goes live with its wireless network Verizon will be a thing of the past.

  • Andrew Campbell

    One reason to not like big red! I rooted my phone for jb after the I/o conference then unrooted it to get the Verizon ota. Now it is rooted again so I could get 4.2. Its an endless cycle with Verizon and it isn’t just the nexus line. I had to root the wife’s inc 2 so she would have ics, something Verizon said they would ota then canceled on

  • nightscout13

    Yet somehow Verizon manages to be #1 in satisfaction?

  • It’s a shame really. It makes me want to switch carriers, even though it means I’d love my unlimited data. I bought a nexus cause I wanted to latest and greatest at all times, not so I can wait 3 months for verizon’s circle jerk.

  • I hope Google fixes this in the next version of Android. They need to make it so the update can be downloaded over wifi and won’t need any approvals by carriers and won’t affect any skins. That way all phones could be updated with the latest software as soon as possible. Also make it so I can have the apps from my main account show up on other accounts on my tablet please.

  • The basterds.

  • omgitzjose

    im still lost as to how Apple and Microsoft got around this carrier BS. the manufacturers need to realize they dont need the carriers the carriers need THEM!

    • coolsilver

      Microsoft always had issues with their windows phones about upgrades. You’ll be lucky to get ONE update at all

      • omgitzjose

        yea but they send updates directly to phones not through the carrier

        • coolsilver

          Not in the Windows Mobile days. No OTA updates were ever issued.

          • omgitzjose

            well im talking about now lol

  • Steven Gonz

    Does Google have enough to buy a few satellites, or more if needed?

  • bassman418

    Not mine.. ….. 😉
    Thank you Mummzy.

  • I dont know why am still on Verizon. If AT&T or Sprint had a good nexus, I’d switch. Its not like Verizon’s LTE is so much better. On the contrary, its just be getting slower as it get more crowded. I live in a urban area where AT&T’s LTE is just as good. And whats up with blocking google wallet when I can’t even get ISIS on my phone. Dumb. Man, I hope Google makes their own wireless network.

    • coolsilver

      I do. Their network of towers. That’s the only reason other than unlimited data for now.

  • Geo

    sad carriers have this much of a hold on manufactures and are not just data tubes

  • Havoc70

    Gee Verizon is behind there is a real shocker

  • That’s why I root!

  • FortitudineVincimus

    A prime example of the over-hyped “Nexus” pure Google experience. Totally dumb.

  • Jesse Priest

    I just wish there was something we or anyone could do about this

  • hate the late update

    Well honestly, we shouldn’t care who has more power over another, shouldn’t Verizon simply give up if their customers want something done about it? After all its all up to the customers

    • Hothfox

      You have to remember probably 5% of their users actually care about AOSP and keep up on the differences in software updates. Some people likely don’t even know what version of Android their even running at the moment. So technically, they are catering to their customers right now – the average user who just wants a phone that calls, texts, has apps, and can web browse.

  • To be fair, I don’t count the update from 4.2 to 4.2.1 as 1 update. I am pretty sure that if the GNex was updated to 4.2 and December was missing, we would definitely receive 4.2.1 quickly.

  • Tom Yarrish

    Ok seriously, when they announced the phone on Verizon who didn’t see this coming? The GNex was screwed up on Verizon’s side from the very beginning.

  • RD

    Google needs to start its own cellphone carrier

    • I would jump the Verizon ship immediately if this happened.

      • Diablo81588

        You would be a fool.

    • Havoc70


    • renGek

      I suspect google fiber is part of that strategy.

    • Bob

      In talks with Dish to launch LTE network.

  • ToddAwesome

    Dammit, dammit, sunuvabitch!

  • Lets actually consider the implications if Verizon didn’t quality test the updates on their phones.

    They could very likely face civil litigation if an update that they push OTA to a corporate users’ phone ends up causing a problem (like the lack of december in the people app).

    I know we here all like to live on the bleeding edge of innovation, but businesses and corporations approach emerging technologies with a lot more skepticism and caution.

    I’m not defending the time it takes for an update to be approved by Verizon (really, it should take no more than a couple days) but I’m saying that the process is there for a good reason.

    I say all of this as a user who just flashed Jellybelly 10.2 to his Nexus the day before yesterday.

    • stevethepirate

      So how and why does Google manage to not have a problem pushing out updates? Presumably they would face the same wrath of litigation.

    • Havoc70

      Sorry i doesn’t take 6 months to quality test a new version that BS. Hold back for a few weeks to test sure that i can say would be smart but the length they take is bull$ hit and everyone knows it

  • Chris Hollenbeck

    The lack of any status updates makes it even worse.

  • EC8CH

    Not Mine 😉

  • RaptorOO7

    AND, this is why I sold my Galaxy Nexus. Verizon promised in their in-store advertising the Galaxy Nexus would be first with updates and as a Nexus phone it should be. But per usual with Verizon that means nothing. They hold the updates back and drag it out.