If you're wondering where the delay is for Android updates, Verizon has the answer

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
If you're wondering where the delay is for Android updates, Verizon has the answer
Everyone loves to complain about how slow Android updates can be, and more than that, everyone loves to play the blame game, which mostly means saying that Google should be acting more like Apple and locking down control over the ecosystem. Of course, no one bothers to really think through that option, because following that logic would destroy many of the things we love about Android. Still, it's becoming more and more clear where the major delays are coming from when in regards to Android updates. 

It has come to our attention that the Verizon Galaxy Nexus was released 5 months ago today. And, the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is still running the same version of Android it shipped with, despite a number of rumors about updates to Android 4.0.4 or 4.0.5., and even a leaked version of 4.0.4 coming out for the device. This is a Nexus device, meaning there is no manufacturer UI to worry about. Admittedly, the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is not supported as a developer device by Google because of the proprietary keys needed for the CDMA radio, but that shouldn't cause any real delays. 

Still, what we're seeing is that there is an update available for Verizon Galaxy Nexus users. It has leaked, it has even reportedly gone out over-the-air to some users, but it hasn't been officially released. There is literally no other reason to point to here aside from carrier delays. The GSM Galaxy Nexus has been updated all the way to 4.0.5. The Sprint Galaxy Nexus (which theoretically would need the same proprietary CDMA keys as Verizon) has been updated with a fix straight from Sprint to fix connectivity issues. The only holdout is with Verizon. We have known for a while that carrier testing adds time to the release of software updates, but the leaked version of Android 4.0.4 for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus came out over three months ago, but we still haven't seen a widespread release of the update. 

For unlocked devices, there will be delays with updates depending on a few factors: the complexity of the manufacturer customizations, how much the manufacturer has contributed to the Android source, and the willingness of the manufacturer to bother building the update. We've seen that manufacturers contributing back to the Android source trunk will speed up update releases quite a bit as seen with Sony's fast turnaround on a number of Xperia devices. And, we know that having just light customizations also makes updates extremely fast, as is the case with Asus tablets. 

Unfortunately, the two biggest culprits are manufacturer apathy - the LG Optimux 2X ran stock Android, but still hasn't seen the ICS update - and carrier delays. And, aside from consumers banding together to complain or boycott those companies, there isn't a lot that can be done to speed up those issues. But, that means there are options. If you're a Verizon Galaxy Nexus user, just get in touch with Verizon Wireless support and let them know you mean business. Maybe we can force some movement. 



1. Zayuh24

Posts: 149; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I've been telling people for a LONG time that it's both the carriers and the manufacturers... Google gives developers from the manufacturers and suppliers (carriers) the source code before they even release it! Yet we never see it implemented. I had the original droid that got Gingerbread lord knows how late; then I got the G2X which we don't even know if it will get ICS (LG says the Optimus 2x will, but of course, T-Mobile runs the show with the G2X). I can understand the frustration, but I am not ready to void my warranty with a root. I would rather wait for a fully functional build to come OTA than use an 80% build. But with the long wait still ahead, and no legit release date for updates until around the corner when they arrive, I might rethink my position.

9. corrifa

Posts: 34; Member since: Sep 28, 2011

Most roms are around 100-110% on usability... i.e. cm9 adds plenty of extra functionality, and speed is probably 150% compared to a phones stock rom. Only at the beginning of a release are they not fully working, then devs do their magic and "kink" them out quickly

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I completely agree with your first paragraph... and I think you need to rethink your position on the second. A custom rom on version 1 might be 80% complete. But if you give it a month a good developer will have it running better than the manufacturer ever did. If your a fan of the stock experience, you can do small things like just installing a custom kernel to drive the phone a bit faster and a heck of a lot more smoothly. ROMs give you more choice, better battery life on some, a way better experience on most compared to stock, and newer versions of the OS months/years before an official update if it ever gets one. If there is an issue that you need to send it into warranty, you can almost always revert everything back to stock before you send it in. And honestly, most people dont even care/check for custom roms anymore.. its just so common. As long as they cant attribute the damage done to the phone from you fiddling with it, they generally dont bat an eye at it.

18. Zayuh24

Posts: 149; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I've been looking everywhere researching stable ROM's. To be honest, I'm not savvy enough with the languages used to write the source codes, so I deem myself unqualified to do my own rooting lol. I have a friend that "claims" to know how to root, but he seems much more clueless than me on the basics. Hell, if I can get away with rooting my G2X (or throwing a custom kernel on it), I will. The only thing I've rooted was my PSP years ago in high school when Sony gave out the firmware. I should do more homework on this before I lose my hair waiting on OTA's.

20. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if you go to forums.xda-developers.com and look up your phone, there is a "bible" or "root wiki" for each phone that gives you detailed step by step instructions on how to root. its a lot of reading, but in practice, its not really that hard. it seems worse than it is. I got my lil brother a G2X real cheap off craigslist, rooted it, and threw on a custom rom within 2 hrs of having it. Not a biggie.

35. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

I agree with remixfa. Step by step procedures on xda-developers are really a treat. So easy and straight forward. If you can install a windows program on a folder you created on your desktop you can easily root and flash your droid. I didn't know anything about flashing and rooting before, then I tried it on my international Galaxy S. I got it bricked. And even when I got it bricked there were tutorials on how to unbrick it. After fixing it I was able to install a custom rom (CM7) and everything improved. Fluidity was nowhere near stock levels and even benchmarks skyrocketed. With a 1Ghz hummingbird powerVR540 the phone got 2300+ on quadrant and I didn't even overclock it. And it's not just benchmarks, I felt it in real life performance too like in gaming, web browsing, longer battery life, faster camera, etc. Just like in the Matrix movies, you can take the red pill or the blue pill. It's a choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue/stock) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red/custom). The hardware of phones today, even the old ones , are much more powerful than what the manufacturers show them to be. And the dev community is there to help us unleash this potential hidden in the tweaks and software of OEMs.

29. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

It takes almost no time at all to learn how to do the coolest things with Android. If you have a Galaxy Nexus you don't even have to learn anything. We have a Toolkit where you press a couple keystrokes and your phone is unlocked and rooted and then you can go back to locked and unrooted with the same amount of ease. I just got mine replaced today because the 4G radio died. I was modded out the wazoo. Plugged in my Nexus to my laptop and had it wiped, locked, and unrooted and back to stock within 5 minutes and the Verizon store never knew I did anything to it.

38. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

I'm with you completely on this. Been rooting my phones since my Sprint Hero and haven't turned back since. Have had the leaked ICS running on my Rezound for a month now and this phone run so much smoother than it ever could have on Gingerbread, not to mention that the ridiculous almost 2 days of battery life I'm getting with the stock kernel. I don't see that happening with the official, unrooted release. I could just imagine how much smoother and how much better the battery life would be on my Razr Maxx but I haven't bothered to root that yet.

41. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the battery life on ICS is waaay improved. I keep making fun of a coworker that is afraid to take the leap to ICS roms with his SGS2 hercules. At the end of the day we both used our phones heavily.. he had to switch batteries and back, I was at 60% off the original charge. There are a lot of tweaks built into ICS that you can fiddle with that do so much to improve things. GPU rendering makes the phone smooth, and the tweaks make the battery last longer. Pair it with Juice Defender for even longer battery life. I've hit 3 days on a charge before.. and I just have my old SGS1.

45. Zayuh24

Posts: 149; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Now all of the rooting/flashing methods I see are for 2.3.3. Will the same methods work for 2.3.4 (I updated as soon as the OTA hit my hands).

44. Numz

Posts: 34; Member since: Oct 31, 2009

It's very ironic to me that this article posted today because I called Verizon and complained about this very issue just yesterday. I complained about 2 points, the first point being that the GSM version of the galaxy nexus has received a couple updates as well as the sprint version so why hasn't Verizon's? I also complained that I bought the Galaxy Nexus with the assumption that I'd receive timely updates because it was a developer phone but several weeks after I purchased it, Google announced that the Verizon version wasn't considered one. They then proceeded to tell me that they have nothing to do with the updates, that the manufacture is the one that tells Verizon they are ready to push out the update at which point Verizon starts rolling it out. I told them I find that hard to believe since, all other versions of the phone have received updates. They then attempted to put me through to Samsung at which point I got disconnected (convenient right?). Anyway, thanks for posting this article cause I think we all need to flood Verizon's call center with these complaints and maybe they will finally realize that it's worth it. The point I was trying to make with them was, if they find 1 bug in the update but it fixes 5 others, push out the damn update, I'd rather have the 5 bugs fixed and you can fix the 1 later.

2. Twitch016

Posts: 23; Member since: Jan 26, 2012

This has been killing me recently. Anyone seen a change.org petition or similar to get Verizon to communicate and push updates? It's bad business and falsely selling a product - my GNex has been iffy on connection for a few days and all VZW and Samsung say is to wait for the update - which they don't know when it's coming.

3. rockstarlive

Posts: 307; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

I heard from a very good source ICS could come as soon as the end of the month for the Nexus Raze and Rezound. Good source as in some Verizon reps.

8. DigitalBoy05

Posts: 279; Member since: Jun 04, 2011

As a Verizon Rep I can say that there has been no internal document floating around our trainings or hot news for when these devices are to be updated. A lot of reps use sites like PA and Engadget etc to find out this info cause its usually leaked on here before our internal sites. Not always but a lot of the time.

10. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

That sounds familiar. Oh yea, that was last month. But I do hope that it is true.

39. Tatperson

Posts: 58; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

Nexus Razr? Never heard of that before :P

4. Cha7520

Posts: 222; Member since: Oct 31, 2010

I called Verizon about this phone for the third time. To Date, I have still not gotten the supposed "OTA Update", which I heard never passed the beta testing stage and that is why it hasn't been "officially" rolled out. This phone is a peice of crap! It reboots on my daily....3G goes out all the time...I'll be talking to a person on the phone...the phone will say I have 2 bars of signal, but for whatever reason the person says they don't hear me anymore, even though I hear them perfectly. The phone takes up to 5 seconds to rotate to land scape which is really annoying. I'm sick of this phone and was told by Verizon Agent to call Tech Support and they may be about to switch me to another phone....LOL...yeah right!


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

All they will do is just a send you another Galaxy Nexus. I feel the same way as you though. I really thought the Galaxy Nexus and ICS would start a new age for Android and it's updating process. But I am sick of waiting on Verizon to finally OK the next update and be done with it. The original EVO got 2.2, and even 2.3 way faster than the Droid X did and it was a much better device all in all.

14. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

This was a lot of our fears when we heard that VZW was getting a "nexus" device. Honestly, I think its bullshyt. Apple still retains direct control of iphones even on VZW. A nexus is a direct controlled device. I dont know if I should be more mad at VZW for monkeying around with it and ruining the Nexus experience for their customers, or at Google for not using their massive weight to push VZW out of the way like Apple did. As an X-VZW employee I can tell you that the long update process has always been there.. its just much more visible now with the fast paced world of Android. As a tech enthusiast, I can safely tell you that the only way to have updates immediately is to buy unlocked GSM Nexuses or dig in and learn how to root and update your device manually.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

Yea I know. It's a damn shame because this is one of the things that the sheep boys keep rubbing in our faces. That Apple pushes out updates on time for all their devices, yada yada yada. I agree with that, that IS one of the things I missed about having an iPhone. If the rumors are true(which I doubt) I might have to switch back if it is a 4 inch display. I am really getting tired of spending 300 dollars on a phone, over 100 a month for it and be stuck at the same version it was running since the day I bought it nearly 6 months ago. Yes I understand a lot of devices are still on Gingerbread. But a NEXUS device should be a different story. Even the Samsung Nexus S is running a more updated version of ICS than VW Galaxy Nexus.

5. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Well, the RAZR has received a few updates since November, and I have been running the latest AXIOM ROM ICS 4.0.4. Very little wrong with it. Screw Verizon and/or Motorola as the dev community does the best job of all with open source.

6. Saamic

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

Can Verizon just has the least compatible everything

11. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Hey Michael, I thought I read somewhere that ICS is supposed to somehow prevent slow updates due to manufacturer UIs? And is there any reason why manufactures won't just make their overlays into a downloadable app instead of baking it into the OS? Seems to me if GO Launcher, ADW, and LauncherPro could do it, these guys should be able to as well.

15. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its supposed to lessen the update length from google dropping code to it getting to your device on ICS devices. Manufacturers can speed up the process quite a bit compared to what it used to be. Both HTC and Samsung have found ways to "lighten" their UI's so updates could/should be faster for the long haul. But none of that matters if the carrier sits on the update for long periods of time. The final update launch is completely in the controls of the carrier and no one else. They give the "OK" on testing and the give the OK on roll outs.

17. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I think the difference will be seen with the transition from ICS to Jelly Bean and going forward. The jump from Gingerbread to ICS is a huge one, which is why there have been such big delays. Manufacturers won't make overlays separate, because that would mean users could turn it off. I'd love to see Google force that on manufacturers though. I've always felt that UI customizations should be handled like alternate launchers.

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

thats a long standing sentiment about the launchers. We'll get that right after Obama flies on a pegasus with a tatoo of Taco on its butt. aka, not gonna happen. :) funny visual though.. lol

13. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's because of Google. Randall Stevenson said so. Are you going to try to tell me he's a lying, weasely, retarded, underhanded, four flushing, scumbag d**k?

19. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Who the F*** is Randall Stevenson?

22. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

isnt that the dillhole ATT CEO or whatever that was saying that it was all google's fault that they wouldnt update their devices?


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

and the same moron who said the wifi tablets are going away because they arent needed?

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