Google Pulls Support For CDMA Devices, Including Galaxy Nexus

verizon-galaxy-nexus

Somewhat concerning news is coming in that Google has removed all references of CDMA hardware from their developer pages. Not only has all information regarding CDMA devices been removed from the documentation, but the source code and firmware images for individual devices such as the Motorola XOOM and even the flagship Galaxy Nexus is gone.

An official statement from Google clarifies their position:

For various technical reasons, recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers. To function correctly, these .apk files must be signed by the so-called “platform” key. However, when an individual creates a custom build from the AOSP source code, they don’t use the same signing key as these CDMA flies were signed with.

The result is that these files don’t work properly, and pure AOSP builds running on these devices can’t place calls, access mobile data, and so on. Because we aim to make sure that we are as clear as possible about the degree of support that devices have, we updated the docs over at source.android.com to reflect this reality.

CDMA is the cellular technology used primarily in the US by Verizon Wireless and Sprint, and could be considered the competitor to the more common GSM, which is used by essentially every other cellular company on the planet. This change in Google’s policy basically means that the extra difficulty involved in supporting devices from Verizon and Sprint made them incompatible with the open nature of Android, so they’ve been dropped. More to the point, it also means that CDMA devices will no longer be considered full fledged development devices, which may have a far reaching impact on which carriers will be getting “Nexus” devices in the future.

What Does This Mean?

This change is unquestionably going to have the biggest effect on the Galaxy Nexus, Google’s current flagship device, which is available exclusively as a CDMA device in the US. Until a GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus is officially available in the US, the only  Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) development phone available in America is the T-Mobile and AT&T version of the Nexus S. The Nexus S is now over a year old, and while still a respectable device, it’s a far cry from the industry leading Galaxy Nexus hardware.

In addition, this change may also mean that future Android updates for the devices like the Galaxy Nexus will be coming from the carrier, rather than directly from Google as previously promised for Nexus devices. For people who bought their Galaxy Nexus expecting a “pure Google” Android experience, this could be a very big disappointment.


Tom Nardi

Tom is a Network Engineer with focus on GNU/Linux and open source software. He is a frequent submitter to "2600", and maintains a personal site of his projects and areas of research at: www.digifail.com .

Related posts

  • Harry

    Very misleading headline. No user is affected by this, those devices are still being sold and supported. Just some functionality for developers will we dropped.

    • Wholly

      I guess you didn’t read the last paragraph:

      … future Android updates for the devices like the Galaxy Nexus will be coming from the carrier, rather than directly from Google as previously promised for Nexus devices. For people who bought their Galaxy Nexus expecting a “pure Google” Android experience, this could be a very big disappointment.

      This DOES mean a lot to some of us. This directly impacts the work of all replacement firmware on Android phones. It *is* a big deal – but only if you’re on a CDMA based Android phone.

      • Anonymous

        “In addition, this change may also mean that future Android updates for the devices like the Galaxy Nexus will be coming from the carrier, rather than directly from Google as previously promised for Nexus devices.”

        How are you assuming this, without anything to suggest that this is the case?

    • Droid Dev

      Developers aren’t users?

      I bought the Galaxy Nexus because I was under the impression it was the top of the line developer phone for Android 4.0. Now it turns out I should have gotten a Nexus S for half the price.

      You seem to be downplaying the issue here because it doesn’t effect you personally. But this is a big problem for developers.

      But even for the non developer, the fact that CDMA carriers might not see Nexus branded devices again is a big deal. Are CDMA users going to get shafted on the best Google Experience phones?

  • Hooney

    Here’s the rest of the post that the author left out.

    We will still make available as many as possible of the closed-source binaries for these devices, and Nexus devices will continue to have unlockable bootloaders. And, of course, GSM/HSPA+ devices are still supported, as are any other devices we’re able to support. We’ve simply updated the documentation to be clearer about the current extent of CDMA support.

    We are of course always working to improve support, and we’ll keep everyone updated as we make improvements. Thanks as always for your interest in AOSP!

    – Dan

    Factory images are here
    http://code.google.com/android/nexus/images.html

  • Pingback: Nexus S 4G Welcomed Back into Android Open Source Project

  • Pingback: Nexus S 4G Welcomed Back into Android Open Source Project | OpenSource.Cipto.US

Top