May 15 AT 12:13 PM Taylor Wimberly 148 Comments

I paid Verizon $2027.57 to beta test their Galaxy Nexus


My name is Taylor Wimberly and I’m an unhappy Verizon customer. Five months ago I walked into a Verizon store, purchased two Galaxy Nexus phones, and ported my numbers over from T-Mobile. I knew there was a strong chance I might regret that decision, but I wanted to try out Google’s flagship smartphone on America’s largest wireless carrier.

Google bent over backwards to get their flagship device on Verizon’s network so we thought they would provide a stellar experience. However, I found the entire experiment to be a big failure and I wish I could go back in time to purchase the unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus and stick with T-Mobile.

Verizon and Google originally planned to launch the Galaxy Nexus back in October, but numerous bugs were discovered and the launch date was pushed back multiple times. On December 15th, Verizon finally released the Galaxy Nexus to retail stores, bugs still present, and issued a small patch on that same day to address some of the issues.

Unfortunately, the patch from Android 4.0.1 to 4.0.2 only addressed a small number of issues and the Galaxy Nexus was left with a good chunk of annoying bugs.

We were told that Verizon and Google were already working together on another update to address the complaints from those of us that rushed out to purchase the device, and we believed them. But never in our wildest dreams did we think that five months would pass and Verizon would still not release a software update to fix all the known issues.

I’ve already covered the bugs and Google has fixed the majority of them with the latest Android 4.0.4 update. The disappointing thing is that Verizon has been testing this update since February, but they have not rolled it out to customers yet.

We reached out to Verizon to get to the bottom of the delay and they told us they needed more time to make sure the software update “won’t harm either customers’ phones or our network.

I’m fully aware I could hack my phone and flash one of the test builds which would end my misery, but I decided to stick with the official Verizon software build so I could endure the same experience that the average subscriber would see on their device.

For all we know Verizon could announce tomorrow that a new software update is finally available for their Galaxy Nexus, but the public image of this device is now forever tarnished and I would no longer recommend that any Verizon customer purchase it.

Drive-by Conclusions

In my five months with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, I have learned some interesting things:

  • The process in which US carriers update the software on their Android phones is completely broken, and Google knows this.
  • The average Android phone ships with numerous bugs and it could take your wireless carrier half a year to fix them.
  • Most Android users don’t hack their phones, and they have a shitty experience.
  • Google’s solution to this whole problem is to just buy a phone directly from them.

At the end of the day, I’m still glad that I got to experience being a Verizon customer. Their in-store staff and phone support is top tier, and I understand there is nothing they can do to fix the problem with Android updates. They offered me the chance to switch to a different smartphone, but I think I’m better off paying the $300 early termination fee and returning to an unlocked device.

Maybe Google will fundamentally change the way that Android devices are updated, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. In the mean time it appears that only a Google backed device should expect regular updates, but even that’s not certain.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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