I Didn’t Buy a Nexus to Flash All the Things

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If you were to ask me why I buy Nexus phones and tablets (outside of the fact that it is my job to own them), I would answer with the following in no particular order. I like stock Android better than manufacturer skins. I like swift updates to the newest versions of Android. I typically like the designs used in Nexus devices. I like to see what new technologies that Google has incorporated in the latest Nexus devices and Android platform, since Nexus devices almost always try to highlight something new in mobile. Before the Nexus 6, I was also a big fan of the low price tags that accompanied Nexus devices. And, well, that’s it. Those are the reasons.

You will notice I didn’t mention the words flash, ROM, root, recovery, bootloader, adb, SDK, boot.img, kernel, or forum. I didn’t mention those, because I buy Nexus devices for reasons that don’t involve tinkering, hacking, flashing, unlocking, and tweaking. I buy Nexus devices because I want to use them like someone would use a Galaxy S5 or Moto X or G3. I like the untouched, out of box experience. 

The reason I bring this up stems from a post we ran earlier that talked about Google forcing device encryption on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. In that post, we talked about how you can’t turn that encryption off and that most are stuck with it, unless you were to flash a tweaked boot.img or ROM or kernel over at your local forum. That post grabbed the attention of the tinkerers in the building who assume that Nexus devices are meant to be tinkered with. And while Nexus devices are certainly tinkerer-friendly, the Nexus platform is no longer just built to flash all the things. Google may make these devices open and ready for a tinkerer party, but they market these as consumer products first, because that’s what they are. There may have been a time when Nexus meant “developer first,” but we aren’t there anymore. In fact, we haven’t really been there for a few years.

Take a look at the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, and Nexus 9 pages on Google Play. Google doesn’t even mention the word “developer” (or the other list of words I ran through) at any point, which isn’t surprising. They talk about getting Android directly from the source, how awesome battery life is and the cameras they use, consuming entertainment on their big displays, listening to their BoomSound speakers, and how great their slim designs are. Google is even partnering with carriers this time around to sell their new Nexus phones, which is saying something.

And look, I know how to use adb and to flash images and recoveries and ROMs. I’ve been doing all of that since 2009. If I need to recover a phone, I can do it in a matter of minutes. My Android SDK is always current. I write adb tutorials for the site. I do like the fact that if I were to decide that I want to get wild with my Nexus phone, that I can. But it’s not one of the top reasons I’m buying one. And that’s not a bad thing!

The point is that the Nexus line isn’t (and maybe hasn’t been for years) built just for developers and tinkerers. Sure, these devices are the best phones and tablets around for those who are interested in that, but it’s time to give up the argument and idea that a majority of Nexus owners all have the Android SDK installed, are fluent in adb commands, and should know how to bypass Google’s forced encryption by flashing a boot.img file. Some of us actually like Nexus devices for what they are, and that’s a showcase of Google’s vision for Android.



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