Perusers of our Rumored Devices Forum were the first to learn weeks ago that the Nexus Prime is (a) coming to Verizon and (b) we should expect it in October. But what if it's a Droid-branded device? BGR brings that bit of unofficial info this morning, adding that it'll be the SCH-i515, and it's an interesting idea, spawning several possibilities.
First, remember that we're all expecting the Nexus Prime (or Droid Prime, perhaps) to be the first running Ice Cream Sandwich, the version of Android that brings the Honeycomb tablet-style OS back to the smartphone. The previous two Nexus devices -- Google's de facto developer phones -- have largely gone unbranded. Verizon attaching its excellent "Droid" branding would be unprecedented for the Nexus line.
We've long been of the opinion that Verizon never got the Nexus One (though it was originally supposed to) or Nexus S because there really wasn't anything in it for them. No carrier-branded apps, with which it makes money, no control over the update process, etc. And aside from Sprint's Wimax version of the Nexus S (appended as the Nexus S 4G), there's been no individual naming. The Nexus One was the Nexus One, the Nexus S was the Nexus S. (Hell, neither one had any branding at all on the front -- Google and manufacturer logos were relegated to the rear.) We never saw an "EVO Nexus" on Sprint or "myTouch Nexus" on T-Mobile (and just as well -- those would be terrible names). Perhaps a Droid branding is the trade-off for finally getting the Nexus line on Big Red.
It's a slippery slope, right? Say the Droid Prime really is a Nexus device. Does that mean Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T -- which for some reason has always been late to the Nexus party -- will each get individualized versions, even if it's name only? We kind of hope not. One of the stronger features of the Nexus line has been its unification. One device, one experience, one name. That's why it's also been the developer line of devices, as well as being popular with those who want a "Pure Google" experience.
The next thing to ponder is that maybe the Droid Prime is completely separate from the Nexus line. The unconfirmed rumor suggests it's a Verizon exclusive, but we do have a hard time believing the next Nexus phone would launch on a device that's really only usable in the United States, seeing as how Verizon's CDMA network is only good here, and LTE's not exactly built out anywhere else yet (and likely will use different frequencies anyway).
There are lots of questions remaining on this one. But we're expecting to get answers soon enough. One way other another, things are heating up, folks.
Update: Oh, and one more thing. Any phone branded as "DROID" by definition is a Verizon exclusive. It's the only carrier to have licensed the name for a line of phones. Food for thought.
More: Nexus Prime forum; rumored devices forum