Nexus Owners are Getting the Shaft

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Good piece on 9to5Google on Google’s unfortunate move to make Nexus phones second rate Android devices:

Google’s new Pixel smartphone doesn’t really have much to justify its premium price on the hardware side. It has the “best smartphone camera ever” perhaps (that’s still yet to be officially determined, other than by DxOMark), there are some hardware optimizations, and the phone sports the super-new and super-fast Snapdragon 821. But other than that, Google is relying mostly on software to set this phone apart from the crowd. That’s fine by me, except for the fact that most of the software features Google is touting are only artificially exclusive to the Pixel.

This feels to me like Google is demoting Nexus owners to a lower level of Android fans. The entire reason people bought Nexus phones was so that they could stay up to date with the canonical version of Android. They wanted to get the best version of the operating system they love, straight from Google, and for years that’s what they got.

But with the Pixel, Google is bringing a number of features exclusively to the Pixel and not other Nexus phones. This is the first time I can remember a previous Nexus phone not getting software features that are not limited in any way by the older hardware. Here’s some stuff that’s Pixel-only in Android 7.1 and will not be in the version of Android the Nexus phones get:

  • Google Assistant
  • Pixel Launcher
  • Unlimited Google Photos storage (full res)
  • Smart storage
  • 24/7 phone support

On the plus side, I’m sure there will be downloadable APKs available shortly for the Assistant and Pixel Launcher features so anyone with an Android phone can use them. It’s not ideal, but at least that would appease some of the Android power users who ditched their wagon to the Nexus phones. Additionally, you could also download the awesome Action Launcher to get a launcher that replicated many Pixel Launcher features.