Google Nexus 4 - Why I'm saying goodbye to Verizon

Google Nexus 4 - Why I'm saying goodbye to Verizon

Summary: It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of Verizon. But their service in my area is unbeatable. So why is the Nexus 4 enough to make me jump ship?

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Not long ago, I decried the dearth of great Android phones that weren't the size of an A5 notepad. All of the so-called superphones were so big that they were a pain to use one-handed or as, well, a phone. The iPhone 5 is a great size, but there are lots of reasons I want to stick with Android (the most significant of which is that I simply don't like the look and feel of iOS). And, more to the point of this story, I've been somewhat limited in my Android choices by Verizon, which has been (and remains) the only reliable carrier in my area.

nexus4_back

It's no secret that I think Verizon service stinks (aside from my ability to get a few bars of 3G in my neck of the woods). The company is slow to help with issues, expensive in terms of both broadband/land line and cellular, and my unlimited data plan that was originally supposed to be grandfathered forever is coming to an end. Now it's apparent that Google's latest flagship Nexus phone, the Nexus 4, will not work on Verizon's LTE or CDMA networks.

Not that the Nexus 4 is my ideal phone. It needs to trim about 3/4 of an inch off of its screen size to get there and true 4G/LTE is mighty nice when you can access it. However, most Americans are used to buying in to carrier-sold phones because it's the only way to affordably purchase high-end mobile devices. Buying the latest and greatest phones unlocked is just painful (I know, everyone else on the planet does it that way, but $6-700 for a phone is tough to swallow for a cheap Yankee). The Nexus 4, though, is being sold unlocked for as low as $299 for the 8GB version. I was planning to spend $250-$300 on my next carrier-subsidized phone. Verizon is looking less and less attractive by the second.

And the reasons to dump Verizon and figure out a way to go with the Nexus 4 just keep rolling in. It looks likely that T-Mobile will enable its WiFi Calling technology and AT&T is improving its coverage all the time, making my Verizon lock-in less of an issue. Quad-core phones remain few and far between, but if I've learned anything from my Motorola Droid Razr, it's that I can chew through as much processing power as a phone can throw at me. I want the sort of performance from my phone that I get on my Nexus 7, so I want four cores, gosh darnit.

I also spend far too much time on my phone to goof around with mediocre screens. The Nexus 4 has resolution and pixel density that can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 5. My phone is also my primary camera and video camera, both for cute things my kids do and shooting quick shots and clips for work and the Nexus 4 has some pretty incredible camera technology that makes the iPhone's panoramic shots look like child's play.

I'm sick to the teeth of getting OTA Android updates from Verizon that are at least a generation behind. Verizon can't seem to get updates pushed down in a timely manner to its flagship Droid devices and I have no faith, expectation, or hints that this is going to change. Yet Android is improving in terms of UI in leaps and bounds with each version. I don't want some Motorola-skinned, Verizon-bloated, outdated version of Android. I want pure Android. The Nexus 7 excels in large part because it is just Android - regularly updated by Google and unencumbered by bloatware and carrier/OEM nonsense. Which means I need to make a Nexus phone work for me.

The final reason that I'll be snagging a Nexus 4, Verizon and its far-reaching network be damned, is ironically Windows 8. I've been so impressed with Windows 8 Pro and the initial crop of Windows 8 tablets that I'll gladly make my next portable computer a large tablet running Windows 8. Not a Surface, mind you. Windows RT has not impressed me for a variety of reasons. But squeeze a real PC into a 10.1", 16:9 tablet form factor, give me a replaceable battery and slick I/O options, and toss in a Wacom stylus for fine art work and notetaking? Count me in.

Suddenly, a larger phone makes a bit more sense since I certainly won't be carrying around my primary computer (a large tablet), a 7" tablet, and a phone that I wished was a lot smaller than said 7" tablet. A phone that's big enough to be a GPS in my car, highly readable in a hand, and just "tablety" enough to make me not miss the Nexus 7 too much (and to be really useful when my Windows tablet isn't within reach) seems like a fine idea. My 10-year old really wants my Nexus 7 anyway. I actually think that within a year, a whole lot of people will have a large Windows tablet or convertible/hybrid as their primary portable PC. I'd still love to see a 4" Nexus phone with all the bells and whistles, but for $300, I can live with this.

The lack of true 4G/LTE was a big disappointment at first blush, but HSPA+ with MIMO WiFi is nothing to sneeze at. It also allows me to access very reasonable data plans, use the phone internationally, and avoid the ridiculous battery drain of LTE. In fact, until LTE technology matures a bit more, HSPA+ remains a solid option, still giving me much faster data access than Verizon's 3G and keeping battery life almost reasonable.

Am I rationalizing here to justify getting the latest and greatest Android phone? A little bit, yes, but my Droid Razr is a huge disappointment in terms of performance, battery life, and availability of updates. If it takes a bit of rationalizing to jump out of Verizon's plans, get a relatively inexpensive unlocked smartphone, and have access to better-than-Verizon 3G, all without compromising battery life, I think I can live with that. Buh-bye, Verizon, hello unlocked, up-to-date, unbloated, superfast, superphones.

Topics: Google, Mobility, Telcos, AT&T, Verizon

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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60 comments
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  • WiFI Calling

    You said "It looks likely that T-Mobile will enable its WiFi Calling...," that would be awesome, if true.
    Do you know something we don't?
    I bought my kid a GNEX earlier this year, only to find out that T-Mo would not support wifi calling on it.
    Hope you're right, though, I use wifi calling every day.
    rico salomar
    • re: wifi calling

      I think he is referring to the fact of a subsidized option from TMO. It would be nice if they offered an app through their dev account on Google play, but then again I have the nexus s and there is no wifi calling support.
      Christian McConner-Hughes
      • re: wifi calling

        I have wifi calling on my Galaxy Nexus and I use T-Mobile. It just takes some work. I routed my Google Voice through a service called PBXes and use an app called Sipdroid to access it. When I am in a hotspot I can make and receive calls over my Google Voice number just like my regular phone number.
        Adam Park
        • That's not T-Mobile Wifi Calling

          T-Mobile's wifi calling does in fact do VOIP, but it uses your minutes. It only works on some supported phones and while you may wonder why anyone would use VOIP and still utilize their minutes, it has a couple of advantages.
          1. It uses your T-Mobile number for inbound and outbound. This is not important if you are using Google Voice, but is important if you are not.
          2. More importantly, my experience has been that Wifi calling on T-Mobile has better call quality than all the VOIP apps that I have used. Of the lot, I have found GrooveIP to be the best, but there are frequent mid sentence momentary drops and echos on one or both ends. Unfortunately VOIP is not quite there yet. I'm not sure how T-Mobile's managing it, but the call quality on Wifi Calling devices is noticeably better.
          os2baba
          • No Wifi Calling

            T-Mobile will not support VOIP Wifi Calling with the Nexus 4.

            http://www.phonearena.com/news/LG-Nexus-4-wont-support-T-Mobiles-Wi-Fi-calling_id36181
            MarkusMcNugen
    • i have wifi

      actually, my samsung galaxy s2 on T-mobile can do wifi calling. So that's a feature i'm using already.

      and i use to have a samsung katalyst that can do wifi calling w/o it counting towards my minutes, but it died.

      try to see if u need a new sim card. my galaxy s2 told me to get a new sim card to enable wifi, and i did, and it worked
      itsev3
  • For what it's worth - my experience with AT&T and Verizon data service.

    I've used AT&T 3G and 4G LTE service for the past three years as part of my mobile data iPad data access experience.

    I switched to Verizon's LTE service when I purchased my iPhone 5. (And yes, that phone's form factor is perfect for my hands.)

    AT&T's cellular service is good in urban areas but proved to be a big disappointment in rural areas due to a lack of cellular coverage.

    Verizon's cellular network coverage, on the other hand, has been absolutely rock steady for me - both in rural and urban settings.

    Personally, I seem to have had the opposite service experience from you. (Although the Verizon data plans are a bit pricey compared to AT&T's plans. Still, my next mobile gadget requiring a cellular ability will access the Verizon network.
    kenosha77a
    • Pretty much mirrors my experience as well

      AT&T is pretty darn good to great in urban centers but you get out of town and the data goes to heck. Cell service stays OK but data... Ouch.

      Verizon might go to the CDMA and loose LTE but the Data is still pretty good in rural settings.

      T-Mobile, when I had them... Never again. I could go days between entering a cell to do something as simple as make a call. The coverage is simply horrible and no phone would be worth moving to that carrier. Nice customer service though.
      Bruizer
      • Oops

        It reads "...and loose LTE...". It should read "...lose...". Loose means something not tight. To help you remember, notice lost and lose have only one letter "o".
        BubbaJones_
      • T Mobile works pretty well all across US for me...

        I've had TMo for years. Currently on a MyTouch 4G. Recently was in NYC, Bay Area, Chicago, Austin TX, etc, even in rural areas and TMo worked well. I use the MyTouch as a HotSpot frequently, and overall am pretty happy with the performance and plan cost. In really rural areas (Canyonlands NP for example) GSM suffers vs CDMA, but I'd rather have the hotspot ability which my Apple-user friends tell me you can't do with iOS devices.
        bboyes@...
      • Research helps you avoid headaches

        You mean the coverage was horrible for YOUR particular area. If you check your coverage map carefully and see weak or blank spots where you live and travel often, then that network may not work for you. I have T-Mobile and the coverage is excellent in MY area (Honolulu). Knowing that T-Mobile has the fastest HSPA+ speeds (I get about 8-14mbs here), A Nexus 4 would be the perfect phone for my network. In my opinion, 10mbs on HSPA+ is nothing to complain about considering it's about as fast as my 10mbs internet at home (or sometimes faster). I feel kinda lucky because I get really good data speed, great coverage, no data caps, low phone bill, and get to pair that up with one of the best smartphones to date (for only $299-$349!).

        Choose wisely, my friends.
        Isaac Harrison
  • If you love your W8 tablet I suggest you forget the Nexus 4 and go for an

    HTC 8X if you want a smaller screen. Or if you really do value "incredible" camera technology and dont mind a slightly larger screen get the Nokia920. WP8 on it's dual core will well like android on a 64 core. You love how much better the display is than the iphone5s. If you're moving to ATT this is the phone to get.
    Johnny Vegas
    • I agree

      And WPs have a pretty good update history
      NC_Prince
      • o rly ?

        Ask all the lumia 900 how good heir update history is......

        Android has kicked wp to the kerb, and not without reason
        DejaVu2
        • Agreed

          They were shipped out with Mango Refresh.
          They then got Tango.
          They're going to get 7.8.

          Seems about par for the course for any phone that isn't an iPhone or a Nexus.
          Michael Alan Goff
        • LOL

          And how's your Jelly Bean, Mr. Sprint only, so far?
          TechNickle
          • Actually

            I agree with you that getting OS updates on Android phones is spotty but Google-branded Nexus phones generally are more decent in terms of receiving regular updates since they are considered the "pure" Android experience.

            I'm not an Android fan or user but the Nexus 4 is the first Android phone that looks really decent and the off-contract price for this caliber of phone is phenomenal. And Jelly Bean, from what I've seen & read, seems to have really improved the Android experience.
            Shameer Mulji
          • JB is awesome

            I have JB on my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 and both are awesome. On the Nexus 7 its awesome-ier. So frackin smooth and reliable.

            And anyone with a nexus who complains about updates should be slapped. You bought a nexus. That means you can go get your own update if you don't want to wait. Its not like its complicated or difficult anymore. Practically a one click operation.
            rengek
    • why recommend

      Such an inferior phone ????

      Half the memory' half the no of cores, a 1/10 of he apps but the lumia costs twice as much ????

      Anyone I know who bought a wp dumped it and went android, they got tired of apps and updates coming soon (Tm)

      Hell the lumia 900 doesn't even have a proper woking Skype app.......

      Wp is the lame duck of the mobile world
      DejaVu2
      • He didn't say Lumia 900

        He said 920, a 32gb phone.

        What? It's dual core? So? Who cares as long as it works well?

        Also, WP8 has better Skype than any other mobile OS.

        The only point you have is about app updates.
        Michael Alan Goff