Fact: I am going to get more negative comments than positive comments for this post.

It’s an opinion piece. I’m okay with it.

The Nexus program was a project run by Google to partner with manufacturers in order to deliver pure Android to smartphones and tablets. It was started in 2010 where it created phones that had a cult like following. Lovers of the Nexus program praised the smartphones to come from the project because they followed a set of guidelines within Google’s ideals.

While I don’t work for Google, it was easy to understand what those ideals were from the products it put out:

  • Quality build
  • Clean software/no bloat/UI modifications
  • Unlocked and carrier free
  • Affordable price
  • Fast updates
  • Security

Read about the evolution of the Nexus lineup here

Google partnered with several OEMs over the history of the Nexus Program – Motorola, HTC, Huawei, LG, and even Samsung.

Nexus devices weren’t over engineered with hardware because they didn’t need to be. Stock Android is designed to be fast, smooth, but ultimately it is open source which allows for companies like Samsung to change it just about anyway it likes. It also allows companies like Samsung to partner with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to install bloatware, lock phones, and slow down updates.

The last point is critical to Android. Nexus devices were supposed to be upgraded over time to the most current version of Android. And they were supposed to be first in line. When manufacturers like Samsung make modifications on top of Android, followed by modifications by carriers, it slows updates to a grinding halt. Some phones don’t ever see updates leaving users to deal with bugs and security flaws for the life of their phones.

Google had a large foundation of Nexus users in a sea of Samsung, LG and HTC devices. The last Nexus device, the Nexus 6P to be precise, was one of the best Android smartphones in recent history. It was widely accepted by loyalists for its blazing speed, high quality all metal build, superior display, and most importantly, stock Android updates. Google hasn’t released the sales numbers on the 6P, but I would venture to say it was the most popular Nexus ever.

nexus_6pWhy did Google abandon the Nexus program?

Apparently it wanted more control of its hardware and wanted to move away from stock Android.

Wasn’t Google always in charge of the hardware and software anyways? If it wanted to move away from stock Android did it really need to do it while charging as much as the premium iPhone? At least Apple has brick and mortar stores to support its hardware, and its software is almost universally upgraded on all of its devices including the tablets.

Google has a duplicate messaging apps, email apps, photo editors, and other experimental apps. It could have simply released a Pixel Launcher to use across devices while maintaining the pureness of stock Android.

So now we are left with even more fragmentation. While I love the Pixel, and Pixel XL – both I paid for with a heck of a lot of cash – and almost all reviewers love it across the board, it’s so damn expensive that it just isn’t worth it. Google isn’t Apple and it never will be. There are already too manufacturers that offer Android phones at far cheaper prices that make the Pixel and Pixel XL overpriced. Apple controlled its hardware from the very beginning which is why it has so many loyal consumers who are willing to pay a premium.

Let me reiterate, the Pixel is a great phone.

pixel-xlThe camera is fantastic. But it’s not perfect. It has a lens flare issue. For the highest rated camera ever, I would expect it to be perfect. For a base price of $649, without expandable memory, it should be perfect too. Google is only selling the phone through Verizon and direct too. The phone is fast, and the hardware is beautiful. The Google Assistant is incomplete too. Features that worked on the standard Google search, are a work in progress on the Pixel. Google took a step forward only to take two steps back.

Not only did Google jack the price up, but it also limited users to one carrier. We all know most people buy phones through their carriers to add onto their plans through financing. Only a small percentage of phones are bought in full. Also partnering with Verizon allowed it to misguide the country with its asinine advertisement that said the Pixel was only available through itself. More confusion on top on confusion.

I appreciate the need to make money. Thats why I ultimately believe Google did away with the Nexus program. It’s sad though because Google’s Nexus users are its most staunch supporters and now it has rewarded them by digging deeper into their pockets.

So much for “Don’t be evil.”

While devices like the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P all run Android 7.0, the latest Pixel and Pixel XL run Android 7.1. Not even Google’s most loyal supporters can avoid fragmentation these days.

Huawei, LG and HTC were all ready to build the next Nexus, but Google had to go and mess a good thing up.

  • Eric

    I completely agree!

  • Silver

    I just don’t know what to say!

  • Siddharth Indurthi

    Truly, once the excitement of Google trying “a new approach” ends, these are the things that remain. Nexus should not stop getting Google-love, since nexus-users love Google (or used to).

  • Muhammad Hafiz

    Seriously for this time i would agree for your opinion…because i am too,still used 6p too and it was a great google phone with affordable price..google is not IPHONE,to sell their product like iphone did,they were success if they were proceed with nexus program and join venture with other company,sort of

  • thereasoner

    It’s not going to happen if for no other reason than the Nexus phones being unable to compete with the likes of the Axon 7, Honor 8 and One Plus 3 in the “affordable price” range. The 5x stunk it up in sales, the 6p did much better and it was more expensive.

  • Steve Holt

    I have owned the G1 to the Nexus and I would love a replacement to the 6p! I use all apple computers and I almost don’t have a reason to buy a Google phone anymore.

    • IT Geeks To Go

      Wow G1! that’s a real throwback. I loved that phone.

  • Mark Forrester

    I’m not so sure about this. I was one of the cult Nexus users (5 and 5X) and I now own a Pixel. You say it’s not worth it, compared to the way the previous Nexus devices were priced but I don’t agree. The Pixel is a huge step up in quality from the Nexus 5X and, IMHO, anyone who had been using one of these devices will be extremely happy with a Pixel.

    I think the only real issue at stake here is actually the price. However, Google have stepped up the quality here and I think it’s worth it. Don’t get me wrong, do I want to pay £600 instead of the £330 I paid for my Nexus 5X? No, not really but having now used the Pixel since launch I understand the difference in quality and have no complaints.

  • Philip Cheeseman

    So true. I just won’t spend that much on a phone… I do and I don’t understand it but I won’t get one which means I won’t be recommending one. Persuaded several people to buy a nexus5… Guess I’m stuck with Cyanogen (which can’t be good for Google) as I want stock android at a sensible price point… (I hate miui on xiaomi)

  • Thanks for posting a fair, critical assessment of the Nexus vs. Pixel scenario. My hope is that the Pixel line will carry on with the latest and fastest updates and that hopefully it’s modifications to the Android experience will be smoothed out and ultimately beneficial to the user.

    To me though as much as the Nexus line was considered “pure“ Android the fact that to get it through Google meant mandatory acceptances of Google’s Play Services already sort of indicated that it was away from the purest idea of the Android Open Source Project. I think it was inevitable that Google would want to try upping Android’s usefulness by tinkering with it more but I too wonder if a simple launcher might have been the answer.

    I’m waiting on my Pixel XL. and am still running an older Nexus 6 (not 6P) that though great out of the box (or upon a hard reset) always eventually gets seriously laggy once it gets loaded with apps and files. It has woefully slow storage memory for a heavy user like me and tends to lock up once I use Maps simultaneously with other streaming music apps when on my drives.

  • Will Hardy

    I am on my 3rd Nexus device. I love what they offered. The updates. The price point. I will NOT be buying the pixel. It seems like Moto is now going to be the best bet for fast updates and a mostly pure Android experience. More than doing away with the product line it is really upsetting the way Google is abandoning all product support for devices that are only a year old! That was the number one selling point for Nexus imo. You could count on almost 3 years of updates. Which is unmatched by anyone else. I am not anti Picked but I very anti Nexus neglect. Thanks Google for abandoning your most loyal.

  • Cristi Neagu

    I love the Nexus line, but the truth is that it’s never been a major cash source for Google. The Pixel kinda proved it can do that, so it’s a smarter investment.
    But I don’t think the Nexus line is dead. We’ll see more of it in the future, in one form or another. I think they had to drop it to push out the Pixel.
    We all know how rushed the Pixel was. And we know it’s built on a preexisting HTC platform. We also know that wanted Huawei to build it, but they refused. What if HTC were building the next Nexus device, but because Huawei pulled out Google hijacked that platform and made it a Pixel? It explains the rush. Explains why there’s no resistance to immersion rating, since we wouldn’t expect a Nexus to have that.
    In any case, don’t fret. The Nexus will be back, I think.

  • Keity

    I agree. Google should keep the Nexus brand and keep it as an affordable brand and continue pixel as the premium brand.
    Nexus not only helped consumers but also phone makers who were struggling to get or stay current on the market. It was a win win.

    • Indeed. There is room for a Nexus and a Pixel on the market.

  • Hussain Ahmadi

    The best way to tell google that we are pissed off is by boycotting pixel phones. Let Google hear you using your wallet

  • PublicStaticVoidMain

    Nexus 6 (Moto) is my last Nexus. I did find the 6P expensive, and I did not like the removal of QI wireless charging (something I have invested in and use everyday).

    I really wish I could afford the Pixel… but as it stands, I will keep using my Nexus 6 until it breaks (or stopped receiving updates).

  • Alex

    Couldn’t agree more! I upgrade my device through my carrier and so have always missed the Nexus phones when it cam to update. This time I managed to snag a 5X and loved it! Number one priority for me after having flagship Samsung and LG phones was the speed of Software updates. Finally got what I wanted with a 5X and Google discontinue the line!

    Devastated.

  • rottenapple1

    Apple is the smartest smartphone company in the world. Google should have developed their own phone in the beginning instead of letting every phone manufacturer customize Android to their liking. IPhones get updates when Apple says so, not when carriers approve them. In the case of Google, making two identical Pixel phones on the inside means Google can create a single version of Android that takes full advantage of the latest and greatest hardware instead of developing for the lowest common denominator like with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.

  • Angel Reyes

    I would agree I love my Nexus 6 and going to get another just to have one extra before they disappear from eBay.

  • John Meadows

    We got husseled.
    They used us to make android what it is today,then when
    we are no longer useful they drop us like a hot potato.
    They did t pretty much the same thing with motorola and they probably
    will do the same thing with the pixel line.
    Pure android is dead.
    Find another phone maybe the one plus 3.
    I’m going to keep my 6p until it falls apart.