Sprint Galaxy Nexus

With the Sprint Galaxy Nexus finally seeing its release today, it's worth a reminder of where, exactly, it stands in the world of Nexus and the Android Open Source Project. And Google's Jean-Baptiste Queru has done exactly that this weekend.

The short version is that, no, you can't compile a pure AOSP build for the Sprint Galaxy Nexus directly from Google. That's because there are licensing issues with some files for CDMA devices that keeps the code from being released under AOSP. And because compiling without those files would leave you with a phone that doesn't quite work (if data and voice are important features, anyway), it remains not quite as open-source as GSM Nexus devices. That's just the way it is.

This isn't new, of course. It's what got folks all sorts of frustrated earlier this year when Google changed up the AOSP documentation and everyone went off half-cocked about whether Verizon's Galaxy Nexus was a real Nexus, or whether Google still supported CDMA devices or whatever.

To recap: Yes, the Sprint Galaxy Nexus is a "Nexus." Yes, it's supported by Google. Yes, it'll likely get newer versions of Android more quickly than other devices. (And maybe even more quickly than GSM versions.) Is it something to stay up nights worrying about? Nope.

Source: +JBQ


Reader comments

Yes, the Sprint Galaxy Nexus is a Nexus; no, you can't build it from AOSP


If it looks like a Nexus, runs Android like a Nexus, it must be a Nexus.

Can I get a cookie now for telling that lie?

If Developer phone or AOSP build can't describe it, its not a Nexus.

How do you make a Nexus work on a CDMA carrier?

Answer; you fake it and add "4G" or "LTE" under the carrier's logo.

V or S ?

You sir, are an idiot. The boot screen says "Google". The phone model is "Galaxy nexus". It is the easiest phone to root, unlock, and flash radios, boot loaders, kernel and ROM's. Under settings it has "Developer Options." This CDMA Nexus, yeah, the same one I use on Verizon IS A NEXUS. BY DEFINITION, BY TITLE, BY DESCRIPTION...the CDMA version is just as much a "Nexus" as the GSM version. Google says that this is a Nexus. Hell, their name is bolded and the first thing you see when it boots.
Yup..this is the LTE Galaxy Nexus, and it is SWEET.

Oh Lord Phil. Ultimate defender of Android. You can't build it from AOSP making the fact that its called a "Nexus" just a naming convention.

Ok, newb here, bear with me please. I'm a bit confused. So does this mean that for CDMA devices that the only roms they'll have available are stock-modded roms? Nothing of the pure AOSP or AOKP based roms?

@ I_Am_Incredible
I agree with everything you said.
Quick question, what do you call a Nexus that's not developer friendly?
Answer, you "CALL" it on Sprint or Verizon's network.


I crack me up.

The fact that Phil is willing to go along with this lie shows his true colors yet again. A CDMA Nexus is not a Nexus as it does not receive updates quickly like the true GSM Nexus's do. Just look at the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, it still is not on 4.0.4 officially. Just like the Sprint Nexus S 4G took four months to receive it's ICS update after the first GSM Nexus S. Any CDMA Nexus is a joke and Phil should know this better than anyone. But of course he never has anything bad to say about Google and their false advertising, do you Phil? One has to wonder why Phil is so complacent in lying to his sites users. There are people that are now going to purchase this phone because of what they thought to be a trustworthy Android news site reported that they will receive updates directly from Google in an expedient manner, when (as history has shown for every CDMA "Nexus") nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks for perpetuating the lie Phil.

As always AC is just one huge Google advertisement disguised as an Android news blog.

@ erikiksaz
Pure aosp? Nope.
AOKP? That's our best bet.

Welcome to Sprint, "The Now" we have to hack harder "Network".

Most folks who buy this phone won't even unlock the bootloader. Nonetheless this will still be the most hackable Sprint Android phone, so......whatever. Anyone who is that frantic to get the .04 to .05 iteration update will most likely be just as happy to flash that ROM as they would be to get it over the air. the rest of the "mainstream" consumers won't even KNOW there was a .04 to .05 iteration.

If you want what you term a "true Nexus" experience then head right on over to ATT, it makes little sense complaining that the Sprint Nexus is CDMA when Sprint's network is built on CDMA......

That has NOTHING to do with this. The iPhone also uses Qualcomm chips for CDMA. There are NO problems with carriers for updates. Explain ...

I`m wondering , what PHIL he`s trying to say, or implying! That`s CDMA Sprint piece of crap, and no one should buying Google Smartphone on CDMA network? or what? I had CDMA smartphone I took overseas and it worked perfect.

It is certainly reasonable as to why those CDMA files are locked down. I mean, come on, you don't want the rest of the world abandoning GSM in favor of CDMA do you?!?

Something I thought this article would address is what exactly is the definition of a "Nexus phone" then.

Jean-Baptiste Queru defines the "Nexus" name as being "related to the consumer experience, and has nothing to do with AOSP support", but my consumer experience with the CDMA Nexus is completely different than my GSM Nexus as I have to root and rom my CDMA device to be on the latest Android version.

The bottom line is that it does not matter that much. The radio files are the ones in question. I have a VZ Gnex and their are plenty of roms available for it. Many AOSP based roms and AOKP roms as well. You just have to use the official or leaked radio's with them, that is all. You can unlock the phone via fastboot without "hacking" it just like any other Nexus and form here you flash whatever you want.

Rooting to be on the latest software release is not something that should have to be done on a "Nexus" device. If it was truly supported by Google, it would already be on the latest OS version. CDMA Nexus devices are the same as OEM phones. The carrier gets in the way of the updates delaying them, leaving the only option to be on the current OS version rooting and flashing a rom. Something I shouldn't have to be doing on a pure Google experience device.

Oh for pete's sake. This is a Nexus. Don't get all pissy that CDMA crap is proprietary and closed. There's not a whole lot Google can do about it.

Google could not brand phones with the "Nexus" moniker on CDMA networks. That is something they should be doing about it.

You are right. I can see the marketing ploy now: The Google Nexus-like device.
Explain how they could describe this phone to the mass market, you know people unlike you or me who don't care about not being able to build AOSP from the device?
No disrespect man but that would be an epic fail by google. Their hands are tied with the cdma licensing.
Interesting enough though, what is apple doing for their cdma devices? Are they just prolonging updates until all phones can get them? If so, then Google should do the same thing. it would definitely stop things like these posts from happening. Or just make the next nexus a world phone :-)

Apple is not postponing updates. The ubiquitous architecture of its annual refresh makes it so that the programming of updates is simple. In addition, the baseband radios do receive updates with those iOS updates, so we know there is no difficulty in programming what's needed for CDMA. It's already being worked on as the updates are being programmed. Google needs to work with carriers and OEMs in a more direct fashion going forward to at least match that effort. After all, it's not patented lol. Microsoft actually perfected that on the home PC. It's called Windows Update. No ISP carrier handcuffs ...

Indeed. GSM crap is proprietary as well (otherwise you wouldnt need props to build with), it is just that Google was able to obtain a license to redistribute. Even with GSM, some props have to be pulled from the device that are not distributed.

People ignore that though so they can light their torches.

Why can't you just use the radio files or whatever from the stock OTA and build the rest from AOSP?

As A Verizon Galaxy "Nexus" owner whose stock phone is still on 4.0.2, I can confirm that the CDMA "Nexus" is not a Nexus phone. The Sprint version will be no different in that regard. If I need to root and load up a custom ROM on my phone in order to have the newest release, then not only is it NOT a Nexus, but there remains no point in buying a "Nexus" device.
For my next phone purchase, if I'm not able to get a true Nexus phone on my network then I'll be looking at all the phones available as I'd have to Root and ROM them all the same in order to have the latest updates. What's the difference?

Although I share your concerns, the difference is that even a CDMA Nexus is easier to root and unlock the bootloader than ANY other phone. The development community is also strongest for a Nexus device.

In any case, what we should REALLY be upset about is that fact that CDMA is an inferior technology riddled with things that benefit the company that uses it and NOT the consumer.

It certainly is easier to root and unlock, but the sorry fact of the matter is that you still have to do it! The phone I had prior to my Gnex was the Droid Incredible (rooted, ROM'd), so granted I'm a bit removed from the processes to root the latest phones, but from reading sites like this one, it doesn't seem to be more difficult now than it ever was.

Either way, if Google cannot give the device the same support as the GSM Nexus, (and my current 4.0.2 and lack of Google Wallet demonstrate they can't) they never should have given it the Nexus labeling.

Bringing up that Verizon prevented the inclusion of Google Wallet, or the limitations of their CDMA network is just making excuses. If they (Elgoog) weren't able to make it a Nexus, they should have called it something else and not mislead consumers.

So let me get this straight, the CDMA Galaxy Nexus is such a legit "Nexus" phone that you had to write this post about it to tell everyone that? Lol come on Phil, the CDMA Galaxy Nexus will go down in history as the Pnex. GSM people have a Gnex. If you are on VZW or Sprint you have the super awesome Pretend Nexus.

Look at facts without fanboy glasses on. My VZW Pnex is still running 4.0.2, so this Nexus device doesn't get updates from Google, it gets them from VZW when and if VZW feels like updating it. Google has even gave full update control to VZW. How is that being a real Nexus? Maybe Sprint's Nexus will get updates like it should, but VZW's sure hasn't. And I am sure sprint's won't be any different because look at the Sprint Nexus S 4G. It took four months to receive it's ICS update after the first GSM Nexus S got its update.

Both of the Pnex have big and ugly carrier branding on them. Cause you know the Nexus line of phones are known for having carrier logos on them right? Am I right Phil? Please name a single Nexus device other than the CDMA Pretend Nexus phones that has carrier branding on it? You can't? Oh, I see Kay cool!

Google has straight out said these are not pure Google, they are not Developer phones no AOSP build. Google doesn't give the updates. So by definition these are not Nexus.

It is kind of disgusting to see yet another example of how this site will lie directly to its readers and just assume we are all dumb enough to believe the lies. Being a Android fanboy is fine, but jesus man even CrackBerry Kevin is willing to admit when RIM has screwed up, he might sugar coat it some but he doesn't straight out lie to everyone.

I know you are smart enough to know that there is no such thing as a CDMA Nexus. People expect certain things from a Nexus and you can't get any of those things from a CDMA Nexus. Doesn't matter whose fault that is. It is still fact.

Maybe I am clueless. I am not an A-hole, so I can admit when I am wrong. What things should I expect that I can't get and don't already have? I am rooted. Check. My boot loader is unlocked. Check. I HAVE the 4.0.4 boot loader. Check. I HAVE the fa02 (4.0.4) radios. Check. I HAVE 4.0.4. Check. I use Verizon as my carrier, but I don't let them (nor do I want to let them) hold my hand. Who has the ability to define what a "Nexus" is? Uh, Google? Can I establish the definition of an "official" Nexus? No. Can you? No. Can Google?. Yes.
I am pretty sure my LTE Galaxy Nexus (my LNex?) is a TRUE Nexus. Why? Because Google said so. I LOVE my LTE Galaxy Nexus. It is an AMAZING phone!

Really, I don't know why anyone who isn't a developer would even care about this. The cdma Nexii will still get updates, and sometimes even faster than GSM. And if you're savvy enough to know about all this I'd be willing to bet you could install the leaked updates yourself.

A good friend of mine bought the Galaxy Nexus off contract the day it came out. He was so excited to get it because he would be able to always have the latest os updates without having to learn how to do leaked os updates. He isn't into messing with his phones. He has never rooted or loaded a os on his own and the idea of doing it terrifies him.

He paid a boat load of money for a VZW Galaxy Nexus just for the updates from Google. That was all he wanted from his nearly $800 purchase. I remember him saying "I love this phone, pure Google and I will always have the latest OS updates first"

Do you think he is still happy? You know since his Pnex has sat on 4.0.2 for how long now?

He and many others have certain expectations from a "Nexus" device. On CDMA you can't get any of those expected things. They sold a lot of phones based on what people expect a Nexus to be. These devices should have never been called Nexus if they couldn't deliver the real Nexus experience.

Question 1: Can you prove the newest updates that have come to the GSM nexus were meant for the CDMA version? (Different radio, different problems?)
Q2: What about the new updates does he want?
Q3: If no new updates had come to the other devices would he still be complaining?
Q4: If google released the same build on 4.0.2 to your friend but named it 4.0.5 would he be happy?

Point is everyone is getting rallied up for no reason.THE NEXUS ON 4.0.2 WORKS AND RUNS GREAT! Yes there are some bugs, but there are also bugs on GSM nexi on 4.0.4. If you are complaining about this, then go get an iPhone or some other OEM phone. The nexus offers a PURE GOOGLE experience. Before when google didn't release a nexus on vzw everyone was complaining. Now we get what we asked for and still...we complain....

1. Both the NS4G and the Sprint Galaxy Nexus are on 4.0.4. So yes 4.0.4 is for CDMA devices as well.
2. It's the fact that he went out of his way to purchase a device that was supposed to have updates first. He is not receiving the treatment he paid for in purchasing a Nexus branded device. It's is not about what is in the update but the fact that he feels cheated that he still has not received it when others have.
3. Yes, Nexus should always be updated before all other non Nexus devices.
4. No, as 4.0.2 has many bugs in it and if none of them were fixed with an update, what then was the point.

So the "pure Google experience" is updates first for some and nothing for others? It is pretty obvious to see that this is not fair treatment for what is supposed to be the same phone. Plus, we never did receive what we asked for as we wanted a Nexus device on Verizon, not a Nexus looking device with Verizon branding and slow updates controlled by the carrier. Pretty sure no one asked for that.

Pure Google Experience? Lol some Android fanboys are becoming worse than the iSheep.

But you are right. I'm sure Google intended for me to not have Google wallet and they always planned on me having these wonderful VZW apps.

Of course you also can't forget that nothing says "Pure Google Experience" like a massive "Verizon 4G LTE" Logo on the battery cover.

Lol anyone that owns a VZW Galaxy Nexus and thinks that they have a pure google experience or that they have a real Nexus is just unwilling to admit that they got hosed.

See I'm not lying to myself to feel better about being tricked. I can admit it. I fell for marketing and bought a normal everyday Android phone with only so so hardware compared to many other Android phones out there just because of a word in the name.

Denial is unhealthy

Last I checked, Google owns the Nexus name and they can slap it on whatever the hell phone they want, even if it doesn't meet the definition of what some people would consider a Nexus. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Yes, you are right. Every company should be allowed to do whatever they want. After all they are people too. j/k

To build up a product name that has a consumer understanding and expectation of reliable and direct updates in a wash of devices that can not accomplish this, then to turn around and slap that name onto devices that can not be treated the same because of carrier and manufacturer limitations is very disingenuous and does not instill any confidence in Google and it's branding. Not to mention the way they treated their Verizon Galaxy Nexus and Sprint Nexus S 4G users is pretty poor as it was understood that the product would behave in such a way and then half way through their devices contract they were told otherwise. I believe that is what is called a bait and switch, a tactic that is commonly used in consumer fraud.

The Nexus line is about a "principal" and an idea that fans of open source can stand behind. The CDMA brand is neither of these. Let's be real and call it like it is. I don't want to be an Android Drone or see Drones created.

The term you are looking for there is "principle". Google is a business, the only real principle they have is to make money. If they think calling this phone a Nexus is going to be profitable, they're going to do it.

If this is the path Google is heading in, trust me there are many that will not want to follow.

This problem happened with the Nexus S 4g, and is happening right now to the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. The Sprint Galaxy Nexus is next in line to suffer from slow updates just as the last Nexus devices did. How many times can Google afford to take advantage of their customers limited knowledge on the Nexus brand before everyone is wise to it and stays away from Android completely? There are other options for mobile device OS's out there , and this kind of treatment from Google is only going to push those that would support Android to go in a different direction. It may be profitable right now, but for how long can Google keep the charade up?

Dude its an incremental update from 4.0.2 to 4.0.4..... I don't the mass market (everyone else on the planet who continues to buy Android devices which can be seen by the numbers) are going to care lol.
The nexus s 4g owners are the only ones that should be complaining.And even then at least Google explained why that happened.
To everyone complaining that the sprint Nexus is no nexus...you are the .002%. No disrespect just fact man.

It's not about what was in the update, it's the fact that the update exist's and it is not being pushed to a phone that is supposed to be directly supported by Google. There are many people that do not know a whole lot about Android, but they do know that the Nexus is supposed to be supported and updated by Google making for faster updates than all others. Problem being that they find out after the fact that Nexus does not mean what they thought and they basically shelled out extra cash for a Nexus that is supported like all other OEM phones. When sites like AC perpetuate that the CDMA Nexus devices are still a true Nexus with direct updates from Google it is just further confusing the masses that do not know there are huge diferences depending on the carrier you purchase your Nexus device on. Considering that Jean-Baptiste Queru can not even define what Nexus means (https://plus.google.com/112218872649456413744/posts/jKX5qVQ2mkc scroll to the bottom) I doubt AC has the authority or the knowledge to say what it is.

Lol, thanks for busting up my phones Auto-Correct.

The real Nexus was made in a specific way in effort to make money in a fashion. Has that changed?

And yet I can build for them from AOSP.

The only difference between your GSM and CDMA is the closed nature of the proprietaries (which you also do not get source code for).

No, they're not real Nexus devices, which is the only reason I didn't jump on one with Sprint. I figure as long as I have to root anyway, I might as well look at an LTE EVO or GSIII (if/when it becomes available).

In a society where branding, image and perception is paramount, a Google branded pure Nexus style device can compete with the iphones of the world, even if not in the same specs department of its other fragmented brethren from htc, LG, etc.

The Nexus line is the only line that commands some respect from iSheep. It's the defacto brand when evaluating mobile products in the enterprise that aren't from Apple after the original droid.

Trust me, the Nexus REQUIRES the utmost attention to detail, not available via CDMA carriers.

Such ignorance in these comments (and article).

Can't build it from AOSP?

I just did last night. Only thing not working is MMS.

More like, you can't build it from AOSP if you don't know what the hell you are doing.

Verizon builds off of AOSP just fine as well. Don't need custom roms, don't need AOKP (LOL).