Where’d the CDMA Nexus One(s) Go?

The Google Nexus One Android phone launch and rollout has seen some highly bizarre twists and turns, culminating with the recent obliteration of Verizon and Sprint CDMA N1 handsets. When the HTC-produced Nexus One was originally introduced by Google, their intent was to modernize, or at least shake up, the way we do business in the US wireless market. But it hasn’t quite worked out like they’d envisioned. As ZNF readers are likely familiar with the 5 month tale (sluggish sales, FCC inquiries, reception issues, oh my), I’d like to focus specifically on the Sprint Nexus One. Which I’ve been anxiously awaiting.

In less than 60 days, Sprint went from Nexus One press release to ‘just kidding.’ Whereas I can kinda understand Verizon’s decision to offer the similarly speced and shaped HTC Incredible in lieu of the N1, Sprint’s upcoming EVO is an entirely different animal. First, the EVO will be the first 3G/4G phone. And we don’t yet know what that WiMax radio will do to battery life. We also don’t yet know how well network handoffs will work. Basically, the open Overdrive (3G/4G) issues make me uneasy. But, assuming no technical issues, we still don’t yet know what sort of additional fees the EVO may require to get that 4G coverage… along with tethering. On a more practical level, the 4.3″ EVO screen (similar to the HD2) results in a wider handset than the N1 with 3.7″ display. As it is, I already find the iPhone a bit too wide when holding it as a phone. HTC’s Sense UI skinning on the EVO is a wash. It smooths out the Android experience, but will result in slower core Google OS updates.

Sprint will be re-announcing the EVO today. Hopefully with pricing and launch timing details. But as compelling as they may be, I’m no longer sure what my next move will be… since I was dead set on picking up a Sprint Nexus One. I’ve been mostly satisfied with my iPhone (other than no background Slacker), but AT&T’s coverage dead zones and recent increase in dropped or not completed calls are killing me. Verizon doesn’t provide as good coverage as Sprint in the areas I frequent, and their $350 ETF is a gamble given my regular gadget rotation, but it’d still be a net improvement over AT&T. Which means a HTC Incredible may be in my future.

8 thoughts on “Where’d the CDMA Nexus One(s) Go?”

  1. Wow Dave, I’m in a really similar situation. I’d like to switch to Sprint, via Evo, but I just don’t like big phones. I already feel like the iPhone is a bit big. I have been thinking of picking up an Incredible on Verizon, but their crazy ETFs bother me… though they do have one year contracts, that only add about $50 to the phone price.

    Still, I’m sad to see those Nexus Ones go. My big desire to get one was the hope that they would see more regular Android updates.

  2. The Sprint accounting department is who killed off your Nexus One Dave, not Google. For phones to be made for sale at google.com/phone, their has to be an unlocked version that has no carrier subsidy – which, obviously, the internal decision makers at Spirits absolutely refused to allow.

    Looking at it from the big picture POV, this (momentary) hiccup in Sprints participation has little impact.

    The new distribution model, as seen at google.com/phone, will be the norm soon enough, and sprint will flip-flop back eventually, just as soon as WalMart adopts the same handset distribution model currently in use by Google.

    This post is just one of dozens I have read declaring the new handset distribution model, Google is first to market with, a “failure”…

    …which is exactly the same sentiment, circa December 2008 when Android was first available as an SDK ( no physical handset ), everyone made for the concept of a mobile operating system not being in the control of the carriers – and we all know how that turned out:



    The iPhone obliterated carrier control of apps. Android did the same for carrier control of the handset’s OS. Google voice gives free unlimited text messaging to us all eliminating it as a revenue stream for the carriers.

    With or without a Sprint Nexus One, carrier control of handset distribution will end soon.

    In fact, if one were to extrapolate all of the above to their logical conclusion, carriers will be merely dumb pipes, selling pure data connections, with calls made purely by the VoIP software of your choice.

  3. Yeah, my fiancée has been asking me (I assume rhetorically) for months when she can get a N1 on Sprint or Verizon. She’s a little put out with this announcement cause she’s dead set against anything with less than 2.0 firmware. She says my Hero is too slow… but i’m getting that update any day now. Right?… Guys?…

  4. Todd, the reasons are mostly irrelevant to me although it’s interesting to see how his thing has devolved. And I’m not sure carrier control will end soon, as you state. At this point, I’d take even some relaxation. But the bottom line is that I can’t currently get the phone I want on the carrier I want. So I need a new plan.

  5. Dave,
    I was in a similar situation as you. I bought a N1 for ATT. I live near you, and I find for the most part, the reception on my N1 to be better than the iPhone. There are one or two spots that calls just drop (on the Franconia Springfield Parkway) But generally, the reception has been better. I should got New York soon and see how it is there, where my iPhone stunk to high heaven. Also, this plan gives me the added bonus of buying a new iPhone and selling it on eBay when it comes out.

  6. Given Sprint’s current status in the market, they could have knocked it out of the park today with more competitive EVO service pricing. Their very nice $70/mo plan requires an additional $10/mo for 4G server (where available) – probably not unreasonable. But wireless tethering is running $30/mo. Which is $30 more than Verizon’s Palm Pre and $5 more than USB Incredible tethering. Handset pricing is VERY reasonable for what you get at $200. I’m still conflicted. I suppose I could get the EVO with the base plan ($70/mo) and kick in tethering for months like CES.

    If VZW didn’t nickel and dime ($2.99/mo for visual voicemail?), I might have already jumped to the Incredible. Although it’s the $350 ETF that really gives me pause. It’s easiest (and cheapest) to stay put and have an iPhone paperweight 8 hours a day where I have no reception. Hmmmm.

  7. I think the 10 is for everyone… Lots of chatter on Giz and Engadget to that end. Again, I think you should test out the N1. You can always send it back if you don’t get better reception.

  8. My office is an AT&T dead zone regardless of handset. I have a lot of pissed coworkers… who I join outside when we need to make calls or send/receive texts.

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