Software updates – or a lack thereof, really – are the low point for the world's most popular mobile platform, Android. With upwards of 20 devices from each major manufacturer every year, and each with their own customized version of Android, you can imagine it's a bit of a logistical nightmare to keep every phone up-to-date in a timely manner. Add in a rigorous carrier approval process and you have yourself one of the most painful software update processes in software history.

For those who favor rapid updates and the stock Android experience over being behind one or more versions and overbearing, heavily customized interfaces, there has been a solution. Ever since Froyo, Google has teamed up with a hardware manufacturer to release a halo (or reference) device for each major update. For phones, these are known as Nexus devices. For Froyo, it was the Nexus One; Gingerbread was the Nexus S and Ice Cream Sandwich was the Galaxy Nexus. The side-step, tablet-only Android version, Honeycomb, was debuted on the Motorola XOOM – which was widely perceived as a Nexus-like tablet.

Originally, these were intended to be developer devices, but quickly caught on among enthusiasts and basic end users who like to tinker. The premise was that with a Nexus you would be receiving software updates directly from Google, instead of through the carrier, and would thereby receive updates much more quickly. And seeing as they are coming straight from the makers of Android themselves, one could expect to experience fewer glitches and snags than with manufacturers' carrier-bloated, customized software.

I think it's safe to say things have changed.

A good friend of mine, Dustin Earley of Android and Me, wrote an article on Wednesday explaining some of the most recent issues he has been experiencing on his Nexus S.

Normally, I like to hear people's complaints of literally everything. Seeing as I primarily write editorials, I like to know that I'm not the only one complaining about the superfluous ins and outs of every mobile platform. And the more I know how other people feel, the better understanding I feel I have. Generally, though, I just dismiss rants and complaints as just that. But this came from a close friend of mine, one who has always "been known to sing the praises of Google’s Nexus series devices," as he even says himself in his article.

The first of Dustin's problems came after the initial Ice Cream Sandwich update for the T-Mobile Nexus S. He explains:

"An update to Android 4.0 was being rolled out for the T-Mobile (i9020-T) Nexus S, until some battery life issues prompted Google to put the update on hold. That was in December of 2011. Anyone who received the update could be faced with any number of bugs. Anyone who didn’t receive the update is likely wondering what the hell is going on. Google has not issued any comments on the situation."

As we learned late last night, however, the Ice Cream Sandwich update will once again roll out "in the next few weeks." But the damage has already been done, so to speak. As Dustin also points out, it's mid-March and the Sprint and AT&T versions of the Nexus S owners haven't been told a single thing about Ice Cream Sandwich.

Lest we forget, we aren't talking about just any device here. We're talking about a Nexus device, one of the few devices that is promised to get rapid software updates. Yet there have been a handful of devices to beat the Nexus S to the punch, like the Eee Pad Transformer, its successor, the Transformer Prime, and even a Huawei device. And those updates are coming from manufacturers who don't get the software until after Google releases the source code. Google should have at least had the Nexus S update ready to go within weeks of the official Ice Cream Sandwich release. They should be leading by example, but they're only mirroring what we've been seeing of other manufacturers since the induction of Android. Here we are, four months after the fact, and the few Nexus S owners who were (un)lucky enough to get their update when the first bug-ridden OTA was released have either given up and moved on to a new device or had to install an entirely different ROM just to use their phone.

Dustin claims the ICS update that hit his Nexus S cut his battery life by more than 50 percent, several applications quit working, he was constantly met with storage error messages and his camera data became corrupted. Even after several different ROMs, his camera still will not work. And this is all due to an official update that was sent out by none other than Google. The worst part is that he isn't the only one this botched update affected, even though it was pulled shortly after it went live.

So the one person I knew that was probably more adamant about using stock Android and Nexus devices than I am has openly said that he will not be buying a Nexus device again. And if you know Dustin, that's huge.

I can't say that I've had any similar instances with any of my Nexus phones, and I've owned all of the Google devices: the Nexus One, Nexus S, Motorola XOOM and the Galaxy Nexus. But the difference is that I don't ever really keep a phone long enough to worry about software updates. If I were in Dustin's shoes, I would be equally upset, even if I was having none of the issues he's been dealing with for about three months now. Fast software updates are one of the main selling points of Nexus phones and Google has completely failed Nexus S owners. Not to mention, the Nexus One, which was just one generation before the Nexus S, will not officially be receiving Ice Cream Sandwich. So what's the point if you only ever get one major update in a timely manner?

Although a lot of people disagreed with me, I also feel that Google completely lost their initiative with the Nexus line when they launched the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon with carrier branding and bloatware. Like Dustin, I'm left wondering what the point of even buying a Nexus is anymore. As he says, there are "other ways to use a stock Android device," and "maybe third-party skins aren’t so bad" after all. My Galaxy Note will be here in the next hour or so, and I'm honestly not so sad about getting rid of my Nexus or being able to play around with TouchWiz again for a while. (I'm sure the excitement will wear off soon, though.)

None of this is to say that I will never buy a Nexus again. I probably will, simply because every Nexus I have ever owned has, sequentially, offered the best Android experience to date. But, seriously, Google? It's time to get your act together, keep your promises and lead by example. Mmmk?

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58 Reactions to this post

"Is there any point in buying a Nexus device anymore?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Devin Fischer
Devin Fischer Wtf... stupidest post ever..
Murphy Mark
Murphy Mark Well am rocking a s2 skyrocket and am satisfied with it plus with a full custom Rom i need nothing more
Murphy Mark
Murphy Mark The only thing i hate about the nexus is the shape
Andrew Veale
Andrew Veale I love how the people who get their feelings hurt claim that the others are Apple fanboys or Android fanboys. Get the fuck over yourself.
Samuel Claudio
Samuel Claudio no
Vincent Jean
Vincent Jean @ JASON RAMOS, ??? heck no i didnt, iam a big modder and rom go getter. and no it didnt solve the problems
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz yes. CR7
Jason Ramos
Jason Ramos Nexus with leaked 4.0.4 update and the extended battery pretty much solves the previous issues it was having
Jesus Baez
Jesus Baez Speaking of nexus..LG is rumored to be in talks with GOOGLE to make the next NEXUS PHONE..hope not cause they didn't support the G2X worth shit and that was almost stock ANDROID
Vincent Jean
Vincent Jean your not understanding really, android has issues we all know.. but damn, the nexus is crazy really.
Paul Alexandru
Paul Alexandru I honestly think Google sucks ass and even if i love Android ICS i don't know if i'd ever get the Gnex, if of course the HTC ONE X or Galaxy S3 are in the corner.....
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie Got a s2 won't need a new phone for quite a while when I get ICS
Loren Hrabak
Loren Hrabak I think its strange when people say things like "oh a nexus phone is for advanced users...or for 'these' type of people" What does that mean? If they're referring to navigating the OS and doing "consumer tasks," I find vanilla android easier to navigate and do as I wish, than some bugged out skinned device. If we can all be honest with ourselves... if you like Android, a Nexus device is where it's at. Fewer issues, you almost never have to worry about getting updated to the next OS version, apps usually perform better, and your hardware isn't lagged out due to process heavy skins. Oh and how can we forget... carrier bloatware. Case closed.
Christopher Wesley
Christopher Wesley Its just another phone imo. All these devices do the EXACT SAME THING! I do not consider one of the other as being superior. udates do nothing but minor upgrades. end of the day, its just a fuckin phone.
Tyler Kirchman
Tyler Kirchman Bo manufacturers are making there software lights so updates came come quicker and the nexus s is running gingerbread still not ice cream sandwich.
Brad Allison
Brad Allison I probably won't. Samsung seems to be doing better rolling out updates so I will probably stick with them. I also think TouchWiz adds some nice featured to the OS.
Flako Ramirez
Flako Ramirez Who knows
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales It's actually funny how this stupid site only makes articles criticizing every single detail of android now matter how stupid and meaningless it is, yet you don't see a single article that says at least anything negative about iPhone even though it had signal problems and some people still experience it even with their 4s not to mention how shitty the battery is on the 4s. But you don't see a single article of them whining about it right?
Christopher Manic Johnson
Christopher Manic Johnson Ppl still don't understand the concept of Android. When you buy an htc, Samsung, Motorola skinned device, you aren't necessarily buying a Google product, Nexus devices are the only Google products on the market. Google released the update for ICS to the masses, manufacturers included, shortly after it was announced, and started updating Nexus devices a month after. They paused the Nexus S updates to get feed back because there were some ppl having issues with the update--the same has happened for Apple updates. Nexus S 4G owners jumped the gun with the complaints because they assumed majority of the GSM variants were getting the update, when in reality, the majority of those updates were forced via leaks and developers messing around with radios. BTW, comparing Android updates to Apple updates is like comparing apples to oranges. It's easier for a controlled mass update when essentially all devices are the same. All Android devices arent 100% the same since Google let oems do what they please, hence 'open source'. Open source = freedom, and where there is freedom, there is chaos. If you can't handle chaos, don't get hungry for freedom. The choice is that simple. Either pick is a good one.
Bryan Platt
Bryan Platt The nexus is a developer phone as someone has already said if you buy a nexus an are waiting only for official updates you deserve your disappointment this phone was ment for custom development do your research before spending tons of money on a phone you know nothing about same goes for the author of this article...
Vincent Jean
Vincent Jean Nexus is an overrated phone. Bad signals, bad call quality, bad radios.. this is why I left sprint.. no way I was going to go through this again....man I left the razor Max to give this a shot but I am good.. getting maxx x back tomorrow. Nexus is a pretty girl with a bad habits..
Cameron Walton
Cameron Walton Once Apple gets better battery life in the iPhone I am going to leave Android phones and all of the glitches for good. Hopefully when the 5 comes out, but I am willing to wait till the 6 if I have to.
Jesse Burgos
Jesse Burgos I would love to buy the nexus, but that whole 5 megapixels,blurry and generally horrible pictures is killing it
Mark Belkowski
Mark Belkowski nope, i wouldn't buy one.
Jeremy Bleich
Jeremy Bleich There was never any point in buying one to begin with
Erick Roque
Erick Roque did some of you even bother to read the article or the other article he links you to? I fail to see any Apple fanboy in either. after owning a Nexus S phone for a little over a yr now, I doubt I'll buy another Nexus device, not worth the headaches
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull nexus is nice, people jus complain
Dounutz Sesar
Dounutz Sesar I would i love android, n iphone suks it lags at times to n more than my android but both are great but prefer android ftw
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull love android and the many different platforms with different little things about em... and dont hafta wait on updates if u actually know how to use an android and root it to what u like
Mykal Parent
Mykal Parent Absolutely, love my GN. No idea how people still enjoy a 3.5" screen.
Justin Hall
Justin Hall And they only have one phone out for a reason. Try keeping 18 phones up to date...that's why HTC and Motorola and all these manufacturers need to cool it with releasing a new phone every other day.
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson The people commenting saying this article must have been written by an apple fanboy or whatever have probably never even owned a Nexus phone. I had the original Nexus and as I recall it received one major update to it before it was dropped from support (eclair to froyo wasn't that major an update in my eyes so I don't count it) and it took nearly 5 months for the device to receive gb when it should have been updated the same day the nexus s went on sale. Custom roms can only entertain you for so long.
Maxi Fabián
Maxi Fabián i've heard "Android fragmentation lots of time and i still dont know what iis that ... can someone explain that to me ?
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley No reason.
Dale Charles
Dale Charles A major issue I have with my Nexus S is not the OS but the ringer is too low, and the battery is fair at best #firstworldproblems
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago To those who say that apple suports their products more. Its because they only have one phone out the iPhone.
Frank Porter
Frank Porter What'd you expect Mark and Jacob? This is a Taylor Martin article after all. About 99% of what he writes is stupid
Enrique BigPapi Martinez
Enrique BigPapi Martinez Because its a nexus device which means pure android clean no software on top of android clean experience and you get support from Google for 2 years guaranteed see the issue comes into play when people that have no clue about nexus get their hands on it and have no idea what it was intended for its a developer phone and you can say what u want about android or apple but face it the nexus line is androids version of apple because of the constant support the smooth UI and what it brings to the table people should get phones that they can operate not because its the newest or its speced out because eventually you will meet your match and you won't be able to handle it and when that happens then peopele start bad mouthing and blame everything on the device all because their lack of ability to use it all in all if your someone that likes a stock experience or like constant support and updates and getting the updates first then get a nexus
Jed Shuster
Jed Shuster Android has an enormous flaw...their "open source" gives the HTC, Nokia, & Samsung's of the world the power to not keep devices up to date with current software. I really don't want an apple and refuse a windows phone. I have had two Android phones the HTC Hero hardware could not support any update to a new version and my Nexus S 4g only has the version it shipped with. Weak Google!!! Kinda defeats the whole new software thing...the reality is you have to buy a new phone for newest software. I may go to the fruity side (apple) and leave the bot (Android). Google needs a contract with these companies to motivate them to push OTA updates within one month of Google releasing it.
David Hilgendorf
David Hilgendorf Sure would buy another one and that's for many reasons.
Fabian Charlton
Fabian Charlton I am going to DISAGREE with people who say this article is negative. What he brings up is so true. I remember the big hooplah with Nexus 1 with Tmobile and how it was the STOCK everything and the best phone because updates would come direct from google and not bloatware. Now, honestly when I read the article WHY would I buy an NEXUS? It lost it's prestige.
Ambrose Begay
Ambrose Begay Maybe.
Newaz Chowdhury Porag
Newaz Chowdhury Porag who ever wrote this article, I think he or she is still drunk from last night.
Kelvin Reid
Kelvin Reid Judd ..I totally agree I love apple and have a love for android but since I jailbroke my Iphone 4s its been an easy transition for me to enjoy both now. Apple has one phone and to me they have all the things going in the right direction. They can gripe all they want about apple but I see apple supporting its device a lot more than android.
Kevin Choi
Kevin Choi oops. HTC*
Bill Siembida
Bill Siembida How about unlocked bootloader from day one? As well as the de. Support. And it has had more updates than most phones ever get. And if only 1 .. lol. And if its not broke why fix it?
Judd Helms
Judd Helms Great points. I have been an equal iPhone and Android user. Loved the Droid x and hated the Droid razr. I now have a galaxy nexus but miss the iPhone. Fragmentation is out of control with android. I will go back to the iPhone when 5 comes out because I want a device that is paid attention to. Not released and forgotten.
Vincent Jean
Vincent Jean No no no.. iam currently using this Galaxy nexus crap.. can't wait til I go back to my razr
Richard Ameen
Richard Ameen Nope switched to my 4S from nexus s. much better ui than even a nexus device
Mark Bennett
Mark Bennett This is the most ignorant status I've seen phonedog put up.
Jacob Epstein
Jacob Epstein This article was obviously written at the perspective of an Apple Fanboy.
Kunal Paul
Kunal Paul No
Steve Coyle
Steve Coyle You mean HTC ?
Kevin Choi
Kevin Choi does anyone know when the 16 HCT phones will be getting ice cream sandwich? any dates? :(
Scott Greene
Scott Greene um... all phones have problems. some have less than others because they're meant to be as user-friendly as possible. i'd say the nexus is more for those who know how to deal with problems and don't get pissed off at a customer service representative about their phone not working properly.
Josh Jordan
Josh Jordan Buy
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Why should anyone buy a fragmented Android period beats the hell out of me..lol
Josh Jordan
Josh Jordan I won't but one.

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