May 10 AT 2:38 PM Taylor Wimberly 55 Comments

Top 3 carriers reject Google’s phone store, no Sprint N1

In a surprise move (to some), Sprint has reversed their earlier plans to carry Google’s Nexus One. Our friends over at Gizmodo are citing the upcoming release of the HTC EVO 4G as the reason, but let’s just call this what it is. The three largest carriers in the United States (Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint) have all rejected Google’s approach to selling phones directly to consumers.

All of the parties involved are going to play it cool and say nice things about each other, but something clearly went wrong here. The carriers are obviously not ready to give up the sale of a phone that operates on their network, so why did they announce support in the first place?

Source: Gizmodo

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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  • http://Website Jeff

    You can buy a Nexus One with AT&T 3G bands. Am I missing something here? How is that any different?

    • Zacqary Adam Green

      Sprint (and Verizon) are CDMA networks instead of GSM, which I’m pretty sure would be more difficult to connect a non-carrier sold phone to. Last time I checked, Verizon doesn’t even use SIM cards, for example.

    • http://Website Daniel

      Google’s selling a device that just happens to support UMTS/HSPA on the exact frequency AT&T uses. They don’t need AT&T’s consent for that.

      This is the beauty of GSM networks. Due to the variety of 3G technologies and frequencies, phones aren’t as “global” as they were before, but being able to switch networks (on unlocked devices) is still nice. I got a G1 several months before the first Android device was even announced in my country, as my carrier uses the exact same 3G frequencies as T-Mo.

      • http://Website mariah

        Well, every superphones has its own limit and just like the 4G it will have as well. So my take is, lets just savor the moment while it last! Superphone Matchup Review

    • Eric Tate

      If you’re referring to the part of the article where they state that AT&T was one of the “big three” who rejected it, here is your answer…

      Yes, you can buy a Nexus One that supports 3G on AT&T (mine is sitting right next to me). But it is not sold subsidized or supported by AT&T. One of the beauties of GSM technology it’s a (close to) universal technology across any carrier that uses it. So HTC was able to produce a device that supports 850/1900MHz for HSPA whether AT&T likes it or not. It’s still a typical unlocked GSM phone. With CDMA, on the other hand, not having carrier support is a killer due to the limited “openness” of the phone.

      So yes, you can get a Nexus One that works fully on AT&T, but not through them or with any of their support. For any type of subsidy or support, T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier that you can choose.

  • Zacqary Adam Green

    Oh well. It’s still the best phone on T-Mobile and AT&T.

    • Zacqary Adam Green

      Oh, and furthermore, it’s the best navigation phone money can buy right now. Can you put your Incredible or EVO 4G into an awesome, awesome car dock? No.

      • http://Website Joel

        The accessories page that was leaked had a Mount I thought

      • http://Website Gomer

        Uh, yes, actually you can. They are/will be making car docks for both the Incredible and the EVO 4G — the pictures are already out — so strike three for the N1. Nice try, try again.

        • Zacqary Adam Green

          Well…um…uh…the Nexus One’s car dock is better.

          I know because…um…the Dalai Lama told me. And he knows everything. I think. Right?

    • krazytrixxxsta


  • http://Website Brian Douglas Hayes

    Not exactly surprising that the CDMA carriers are out, since each device is specific to each network. Any unlocked GSM phone can work with any GSM network, although 3G compatibility may vary.

    But how exactly did AT&T “reject” Google’s approach? Last I checked you could still buy a Nexus One with AT&T’s 3G bands direct from Google, same way you can get one supporting T-Mo’s 3G.

    • Zacqary Adam Green

      T-Mobile customers can get it as part of their contract at a subsidized price. AT&T customers have no choice but to pay $530, which is, let’s face it, a lot of money.

      • http://Website Brian Douglas Hayes

        Ah, gotcha. I’m on a contract-free T-Mobile plan, so paying $529 is the only way I can get it as well.

      • http://Website branon

        Well you can buy a subsidized phone, sell it on ebay and used the gains to subsidize our nexus one…

        • Zacqary Adam Green

          Yeah, that’s what I did with my G1. Getting it unlocked with the cheaper, no-contract plan is pretty good savings in the long run, but you need to do math to figure that out. With your brain. Or even a calculator. That’s, like, so hard, like oh my god.

          • Zacqary Adam Green

            By “it” I meant the Nexus. Which I paid for a portion of with the G1 sale.

            You know what I love? Edit buttons on comments.

  • http://Website jonathan

    I wonder what the deal is behind the scenes. Did it cost anything for AT&T to get the N1 running on their network? Does Google handle it all and all AT&T has to do is exist? Because AT&T is fine with it, and even if the Evo 4G and Incredible will sell more and steal its thunder, the N1 existing shouldn’t bother any of the carriers.

    It doesn’t make much sense. But then again, neither does the N1(hey, let’s launch a flagship phone that no one can touch before buying with weird design decisions like a trackball, when every Android phone coming out now has an optical pad! Not to mention trackballs get dirty or fail, and people will have to handle tech support with emails and mailing their phones away! What do we have to lose!)

    • http://Website james

      There’s nothing wrong with a trackball. Optical joystick doesn’t allow you to do a very quick swipe and skip all the way to the beginning of a sentence like trackball does. Nor does your optical joypad act as an RGB notifier.

      I, for one, love the trackball on my Nexus One.


      • http://Website sgb

        Must agree, I miss the track ball from my g1, now I have the optical track pad on the desire.

        But that is the only downside to what must be the best device on the market today

  • andrewcweaver

    I bet Google isn’t too happy about this. Maybe they will learn with the Nexus Two.
    I remember a Verizon spokesperson telling us that they had no plans to sell the Nexus One ever, and that was long before the launch on the Droid Incredible.

    • http://Website Derek

      What Nexus Two? You think with how big of a flop the N1 has been, that they’ll make a Nexus Two?

      • Zacqary Adam Green

        That depends on the definition of “flop.” Google seems to be quite happy with how it’s doing. It may not look like a success by traditional tech market analysis standards, but Google’s never exactly had traditional motivations.

        • Canterrain

          Considering the amount of phones Google has sold through the internet only, they have sold a metric crap ton. I can believe they are very happy with results, and only look forward to improving upon the hardware.

  • http://Website Darkseider

    Well even though the Nexus One isn’t as feature rich as the Incredible or the EVO 4G it would have been nice to have Google’s phone available. For no other reason than the updates to the OS get pushed to the Nexus when available as opposed to having to wait for both manufacturer and carrier approval on the other handsets.

  • http://Website Ben Steel

    I don’t foresee that being an issue for Google…already heavily vest in Sprint both financially and with Wimax….I wouldn’t be surprised if Google buys Sprint before year end. That should shake things up a bit.

    • http://Website Joel

      Greatest Fucking idea ever. No joke

  • http://Website avi

    Yes clearly something went wrong here. I guess because Sprint and Verizon just got their new Android devices. Either way Nexus One is one great device and I’m very happy to have one. Anyway..I’m not a CDMA guy.!!

  • http://Website ChrisH

    Its a shame because I always saw the n1 as a good dev phone that would get to developers on all networks- and they wouldn’t have to worry about getting the latest updates.

    Verizon, att, sprint and probably tmobile are in the dark about these new app ecosystems and how they really work and will work after the iphone era, especially for accommodating devs. They just bit the community that feeds them.

  • http://Website kz

    Not sure what this article is really trying to say. Perhaps trying to make news where there isn’t any IMO.

    Two unlocked GSM versions of Nexus One sold directly through Google work on many GSM networks worldwide that support UMTS. There’s no carrier “acceptance” required technically.

    T-Mobile also sells via their outlet, as does Vodafone (for a CDMA variant of the Nexus One)

    I think it simply came down to this …
    - the Nexus One is almost half-year old, AND the CDMA version wasn’t ready until recently; 5-6 months is a long time these days in terms of device lifecycle
    - in the meantime, Incredible and Evo 4 have come out to be sold through Verizon and Sprint respectively
    - with these devices being similarly or better spec’d than the Nexus One, Verizon and Sprint opted out of adopting the Nexus One as a supported handset
    - CDMA carriers need to support handsets in slightly different way than GSM carriers (i.e. they activate the handset via ESN/IMEI, where as GSM operators activate the SIM)

  • Renaldo

    American users are spoiled. $530 is cheap for a phone as awesome as the Nexus One. Consumers need to stop bitching and stop relying on contracts and subsidized prices, because they ALWAYS benefit the carrier.

    Stack up some money and be free of Contractual obligations!!!

    • http://Website gag


    • http://Website GAD

      Well said Renaldo….go for prepaid option. The networks are ripping you off

    • http://Website tamanaco

      Here in America we’re not spoiled… we’re trapped. At least with the major providers. The price of service with/without a subsidized phone and/or contract is basically the same. T-mobile is the only exception. My contract with AT&T expired about a month ago. So, my existing subsidized phone is paid for, but my monthly payment has not been reduced. (No discount for renewing without getting a phone) If I get two N1s from Google and want something similar to my current family plan with data… there no option available at AT&T for less money than what I’m paying now.

      The other issue is that in the US 3G and similar GSM technologies are run in different bands by the different carriers. Their GSM data networks are not really compatible. So you actually do not get much freedom with an unlocked GSM phone. If you pay the $530 for an AT&T Nexus One you can only get 3G speeds with AT&T… If you leave AT&T for T-Mobile you end up with an unlocked, but crippled $530 Nexus One and because of CDMA you can forget Verizon.

      • Canterrain

        This is very true. And what prepaid options are available are generally only good options if you don’t plan on doing much: A: talking (high costs on minutes) or B: traveling (Most prepaids are not nationwide, which in america is an important feature as we do often need to travel large distances), or C: data use (either due to high costs, or lack of good data phone choices for prepaid carriers, see the previous not on compatibility issues as well)

        T-mobilie is the only major carrier that offers discounted prices on plans for not subsidizing a phone. And unfortunately cost of living makes it much harder to merely save up 500 dollars for one.

  • http://Website Jason

    Why isn’t anyone looking into integrating the First Else GUI into the android phones. If I had any developer skills I would myself. Heck I’d buy the Else one but it doesn’t seem likely to come to the US. It’s the sickest thing I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t seem like it has third party app integration but maybe if Android/Google teams up with them, since both OS’s are Linux based I believe, they could make something amazing and above just ordinary phone systems.

    Oh and I’m saving to get the Nexus One for At&t. Family plan switched from Sprint which sucks cause I wanted the EVO cause its God and for now I’m stuck with the backflip. And someone should get working Roots and Rom stuff setup for me that’d be Great thanks.

  • krazytrixxxsta

    That was bound to happen since verizon and sprint both got great phones coming out from htc.

  • http://Website John

    I bet it had to do with control over the handset, Google will probably sale the phone as is and the “big 3″ wanted to install their own firmware, cripple it to their benefit, Google probably did not want that, either way I have one with the AT&T bands and could not be happier, wonderful piece of technology.

  • http://Website gabe

    Because. They didn’t wanna be the only one to say they didn’t.

  • http://Website kamaira

    They said they was going to carry the Nexus One just to get a boost in sales…. just like if a rumors was made about X10 coming to T-Mobile this summer most AT&T customers would leave AT&T

  • http://Website Brian

    I really wish the phone networks in the US were all GSM like they are in Europe.

    To me, the phone network should be analogous to the highway network. I don’t have to have to buy a GM car to drive on a highway. I can choose a Ford, Honda, Nissan, or heaven forbid, a Yugo.

    Or if that won’t happen. Maybe the phone companies can develop a phone with a common radio API so the radio(xmit/rcv) functionality on the phone can be swapped instead of having to buy a new phone on a different network. If the nexus one had a swappable radio, it would sell like hotcakes — you could buy one phone and change the radio based on the network. Problem solved.

  • Lemon

    Mobile Carriers need to be VERY careful here. Not endorsing the way Google’s trying to sell the N1 is not surprising at all. But if they lack vision at this point in time then in the next 2-5 years they’re all going to turn into the RIAA sitting there wondering what the fuck happened.

  • Jmesun

    man i just cant wait till i get outa my contract so i can upgrade. stuck with the g1 with 1.6 for the longest but not much longer till i can get my hands on something better, heck i might just wait even like 6months later to get a phone..its just becuase u know how they have new phones jus sitting around waiting to be released as soon as another competitor releases one. well laters..

  • http://Website alex

    Here are some reasons why the Nexus One failed in sales;
    *No advertising on commercials, unlike the droid,my touch, etc.
    *Sold directly through google i think people want to feel, look at the phone they are buying it should have been sold through t-mo, and information takes to long to update(personal experience)
    *Tech support sucks(i’ve heard)
    *Connectivity issues
    *Kills family plans

    I really wanted one(BTW im 15) my dad was going to get it for me, but my family plan was in the way so i disconnected that like and paid $200, and still couldnt get it info took too long to update o got a CLIQ XT, sadly best android phone on t-mo, then i got an HD2, but i didnt like it too used to android(my touch, phone that got disconnected) the HD2 was awesome, but barely had apps if tmo would have gotten a 2.1 android HD2, it would have been one of the best phones on the market, and coolest phone on t-mo

    • http://Website hiddengopher

      Should’ve done what I did. Traded the HD2 I got for $200 for a Nexus One.

      I’m 14 and am on a family plan. Windows Mobile just wasn’t for me.

  • http://Website alex

    @hiddenGopher, I wish I did that,u have insurance?u traded it with a friend?

  • http://Website Canauk

    For the Canadians here. The Nexus is enabled on the Telus network.

  • Canterrain

    Personally I don’t see why they wouldn’t have at least the full price option available for the carrier. Carriers have to check their pricing of their plans to cover the subsidized cost of the phone and still turn a profit. If you buy your phone outright and then get a plan with a carrier they make a lot more money than if you get a subsidized phone.

    I could perhaps see not wanting competition with their big phones coming up though (especially the incredible what with its so many similarities). I imagine they do make promises of, ‘we’ll sell this many of your phones if you agree to only let us sell it.’

  • http://Website nobigdeal

    Not a big deal, Google & HTC are still selling Android phones to other carrriers in different models. I think Google needs to lower the price or subsidize it if they really wanted to sell wean people off carrier subsidies. But it’s hard to do with the U.S. carriers all on different technologies (GSM/CDMA). Where as in the rest of the world it’s all GSM, so an unlocked phone that works on different carriers makes more sense.

  • http://Website MattyB

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    There’s no need to fight! We’re all androids here. The fact of the matter is that, yes, the EVO is the baddest phone to ever have been built.

    But soon it too will be eclipsed. I love my N1, but I would gladly take an Incredible, and certainly an EVO. It’s all the same.

    In a few years I’ll replace my N1 almost certainly regardless of whether it needs to be replaced or not. And I’m willing to bet that it won’t be with either of these phones.

    Just remember, if its a better android, it’ll still run most, but probably all, of your favorite apps from the last phone. And of course, it’ll have expandable memory which is almost certainly to get larger and faster over time.

    We have the best for a time, and we should keep innovating to keep it that way.

  • http://Website daveloft

    I chose the Nexus One so I could get Google’s phone. I like the idea of getting the latest OS updates right away rather than waiting HTC to take what Goggle has done and make it work their phone, than they pass it on to the carrier to be modified before finally releasing to the user many months later.

    They chose not to go with Nexus One because the carriers love to control everything that connects to their network. Google’s distribution method doesn’t fly with them

  • http://Website Matt

    Grave error on the part of Verizon and Sprint.

    After suffering 3 1/2 months of the crappy Samsung Moment and Android 1.5 waiting and sifting through the rumored 2.1 update, I finally said screw it and dropped the Sprint plan and jumped ship.

    The whole reason the Nexus One is the best / most advanced Android phone on the market is the fact that you bypass the greedy teleco’s. Buying the full price Nexus and purchasing TMo’s cheaper contract-free plan actually costs 120 bucks less over two years than the full plan and subsidized phone price.

    People are making a mistake thinking that the carrier offered phones are cheaper, because you pay for it over time. Despite some somewhat patchy service at times, I have not regretted my decision and now have a really powerful phone that keeps surprising me daily.

  • prototrap

    i don’t get it. you can buy the n1 straight out, as you can walk into any corporate store, albeit ATT, VZ or TMO and buy a phone straight out retail. Or you can get it on a new 2 year contract, just as you can with any phone, for a discount. so wth is so open handset allied about that? sucks because i actually have a 2 year conversion discount for moving from 2 year flexpay to 2 year contract, and im not eligible for discounted n1 price. not to mention its the only decent andro on tmobiles lineup. as early adopters as tmobile was with the g1, theyre phones almost 3 years later have made little to no technological advance.

  • http://Website rubberman

    Well, I took my AT&T SIM, plugged it into my Nexus One, and it worked instantly! Of course, AT&T updated my data plan (for another $30/month)… So, if you want one on AT&T, just get an AT&T account with the cheapest phone they have (probably some sort of simple Nokia like I had), then get the N1 and move the SIM over. AT&T doesn’t care since it already has you on contract and then gets another $30 per month (just like if you had an iPhone) for the data plan. You don’t even have to tell them. They detected the smart phone, emailed me a “Congratulations on your new smart phone!” message the next morning, and mentioned that my data plan needed to be upgraded to support the new phone, which they were happy to do for me!

  • http://Website REiner

    THanks Googell being the first in the USA to sell a PHONE itself. It is time to break this monopols of those redicules arrogant and technical total outdated Cellphone Mafia. Prepid cards are 1000 times to expensive, Plans are a threat and to expensive. Technilogy in teh US and Canda is 10 years behind europe and probably the Rest of the World. Who wonders those Guys are against a Free Phone. This would show ther daily scam and there outrages lies they tell us every day, like ” have have a Phone, otherwise it will not work well”. THings like that are absolut unqualified trash. Sure there are “only in America” different Standards , all together NO Standards, because almost 94 % of World population has ONE Standard and USA has 4 different technology who. So 94% have all the freedome to change phones and Planes when ever they want. but those 6% here in the USa and Canada are inkompatibel with the 94% and between eacht other. They even split the 6% to 0.5 % 2% or what so ever. Only one Word BANANAREPUBLIC.
    Thanks again Google you start a new way hope it will work