No KitKat for Samsung's Galaxy Nexus - it's too old for Android 4.4, says Google

No KitKat for Samsung's Galaxy Nexus - it's too old for Android 4.4, says Google

Summary: Sadly for Galaxy Nexus owners, their devices will only reach Android 4.3 and miss out on the latest OS from Google.


Sad news for Samsung Galaxy Nexus owners: Google's latest Android OS, KitKat 4.4, won’t be available for the device — which, according to Google, is too old to get the update.

In a support page update today, Google broke the news for Samsung Galaxy owners that their smartphones will not be among "the next one billion" devices that KitKat will targeted at in the coming year. 

Released in Europe October 2011, the Samsung-made Google smartphone is simply too old, according to Google's support page

"Galaxy Nexus, which first launched two years ago, falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices," Google wrote.

It's even worse news for the owners of the Sprint LTE version of the Galaxy Nexus, which only went on sale in April last year ahead of LG's Nexus 4.  

KitKat, of course, is shipping with the newly launched LG-made Nexus 5, and will also be coming to the recently released Asus-made Nexus 7 and LG's Nexus 4.

Samsung’s Nexus 10, released a year ago, will also get KitKat in coming weeks, which will be followed soon after by Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the HTC One Google Play edition.

Android Jelly Bean 4.3 began rolling out to Galaxy Nexus owners yesterday, just ahead of the launch of KitKat.

Further reading

Topics: Android, Mobile OS, Mobility, Samsung, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • As usual

    As usual, android user always trapped on one device one os. Lucky I use iPhone, my iPhone 4 can upgrade to OS 7.
    • You are right

      But with the money saved, plus interests, users who bought the original nexus can now get the shiny new nexus 5 that is a lot better that the iphone 4 in almost every area.
      While I like the way Apple support their previous devices, we must look at it from different angles.
      I'm the opinion that a top of the line phone should be supported for 3/4 years, a mid range phone for 2/3 years.
      Android gives people choice with so many devices, with different prices ranges, from different brands; but as most things in life it comes at a cost - the effort to keep all those devices updated for many years with the latest software would cost a lot. It's the "Uncertainty principle" of Heisenberg - you can have speed or precision - not both... except when she is Valentina Lisitsa on a piano :)
      • anyone who got a nexus in 2011

        Blew any savings they had on beer and chicken years ago.
        • Are you saying that is less well spent money?

          Like someone has said before - "I spent 80% of my money in beer and whores, the rest I waste" :)
      • But the loss in value of the Nexus makes savings moot

        While the iPhone 4S still has great resale value. And given the original Nexus was abandoned after 6 months it does not surprise me the Galaxy Nexus was forgotten about so quickly as well.

        And you really think a top end phone should only get updates for 9 months?
    • Nope, Google Has Exactly the Same Update Policy as Apple

      Let me walk you through it.

      The iPad 1 (which I used until recently) launched April 2010, and did not receive iOS 6 which launched in September 2012 nor, of course, iOS 7 this year. It was "too old" at just over 2 years since launch.

      Or consider the original iPhone, launched June 2007 (February 2008 for the 16 GB model) and topped out on iOS 3 in June 2009. Or the iPhone 3G, launched July 2008 and topped out at iOS 4 in June 2010.

      So does Nexus do worse?

      Galaxy Nexus (which you criticize here) launched in October 2011 with Android 4.0, and received prompt updates to 4.1 and 4.2 when those operating systems were released. The GSM version has also received the 4.3 update, though a bit later than initial release. It won't receive 4.4 because it is "too old" at just over 2 years since launch.

      My own Nexus 4 launched a year ago with 4.2, and received a prompt upgrade to 4.3. It will receive 4.4 in the next couple of weeks.

      We needn't even discuss CyanogenMod, for which Apple devices have no equivalent.

      So, no, Apple and Google follow the same OS upgrade policies - you get around 2 years of updates, then go into maintenance mode.

      Nor is this arbitrary. The bulk of mobile device owners upgrade their devices within 2 years, so the cost of porting yet another OS version to these older devices just isn't worth the cost, for Google OR for Apple.

      Hope this helps clear up your confusion regarding iPhone / iPad versus Nexus OS upgrade policies.
      • How did the Nexus One do?

        Apply your logic and get back.
      • Nexus 4 got 3 updates so far (Including Kitkat)

      • Let's use logic for a second

        iPhone 4S was released in 2011 and got an update two years later.
        Galaxy Nexus was released two years ago and won't be getting the most recent update (even though it was released two years ago this month).

        Nexus does better than Apple did when they just started a device, though, you're right. A massively underpowered tablet and an underpowered phone didn't get two year's worth of updates. That isn't today, though. Apple has gotten to the point where they're better at it than Google.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Wow where do I begin with this stupid comment

        You lost credibility in the first 2 words by saying iPad. This is not about tablets, trust me you don't want me to start talking about Android tablets

        Then you compared an iPhone from 2007 and 2008(which by the way got 2 years of the latest updates/ that is on par with your most recent nexus devices)

        You then start going into the Galaxy Nexus of 2011. OH WAIT you can't compare the earlier Nexus's? Lol ALSO why did you stop at the iPhone 3G of 2008? LOL maybe because the 3GS got iOS 3,4,5 and 6. The iPhone 4 of 2010 got iOS 4,5,6, and the latest 7 lol

        Just admit it, that selling point of the nexus getting the latest update is horrible. BTW, updates are important. Yes people upgrade but they do not just throw away their phones. They hand them down or sell them. This is why the resell value is so much higher on Apple devices
        Miguel Castaño
    • Confused?

      What's the point of your post? By the time your Android phone can't upgrade, you should be eligible, or close, to a phone upgrade. If you had read the article, it said this specific phone was released in October 2011, that's over 2 years old, clearly everyone that bought one at release has their 2 year contract expiring. Can't wait to get this on my new Note tab tho :)

      I notice the new OS7 didn't bring any real upgrades to your phone. I wouldn't really get on a tech blog and brag about your phone when you're still running 3G.
      • @theMIDDLEst

        I think the point is something mentioned by Liam Tung in the article like this

        "It's even worse news for the owners of the Sprint LTE version of the Galaxy Nexus, which only went on sale in April last year ahead of LG's Nexus 4. "

        It might be released two years back. However, it might not be 'available' everywhere. Besides, there are people who
        1) do not bought phone through contracts
        2) may buy a flagship to use for 3+ years

        Not to mention about the regions without carrier subsidy. I agree with the points given by ricegf(regarding updates) and AleMartin(regarding the phone cost). Just not your view :-)
      • Not everyone wants to upgrade every 2 years

        There also happens to be a large movement towards no-contract services. Users buying their own phones or just using their phones beyond 2 years and saving up to half the cost of their wireless bill.

        Cell phones cost on average over $500, but people treat them as if they are disposable and are content that they break after 2 years or stop getting updates. Yet on the other hand would riot if the same thing went on with laptops and those are on average less expensive.

        Cell phone providers really have conditioned consumers really well in this regard.
    • What's your point?

      Truly - I don't get your point. Your iPhone 4 can upgrade. On this side of the fence, so can the Nexus 4.

      An iPhone 3GS and my son's iPod Touch 4 cannot upgrade to IOS7.

      The situation is exactly the same yet you're "lucky?".

      Why are Apple people so delusional? The Nexus is FAR cheaper with MUCH better screen and the functionality of Android far outweighs what iOS7 can do. Widgets, custom keyboards, I can select a song ON THE DEVICE to be my ringtone. I can delete a song ON THE DEVICE. I can plug in to any PC and drag and drop files to/from it without requiring 30Mb worth of iTunes bloatware. I can charge wirelessly. There's more but that should be enough.

      You're not lucky despite your fantasies.

      I don't normally comment but your statement was pointless.
  • As usual...

    As usual, another iphone user with no life and nothing bright to say attempting to add nothing worthwhile to the conversation at hand. Exciting news, Google and Android march on, happy to have my Android phone and tablet and to find out that I'm in line to have my phone and my tablet upgraded to kitkat!
  • It may not have official support...

    But because it's got the 3.8 Linux kernel that has lowered RAM requirements to run, one would expect that future ROMs for rooted phones will work well on these older models.
    gork platter
  • As a Galaxy Nexus (from Google) owner ...

    I would have like to have seen 4.4 on my device, but really not sure that there is that big of a difference. As others have pointed out, I will more that likely be able to ROM the phone with something running 4.4 in the not too distant future. No big disappointment here as the phone still does what I need it to do and not wasting money on an upgrade, new accessories, etc... just so I can say I have the latest thing is fine with me.
    • @jkohut

      You are not missing much. 4.4 included various APIs and improvements over the current API. 4.3 is lot more than jsut fine. :-)
  • The real reason is more technical...

    As I understand it, Texas Instruments isn't supporting the hardware in the Galaxy Nexus with updated drivers that would be needed for Android 4.4 to run. Google's stuck between a rock and a hard place, because they're trying to move forward and TI has basically given them the "tough luck, thanks for your business" routine, so Google made the business call to not lay out the extra money it'd take to make the GNex work.

    I'm disappointed, sure, but the expectation among the Android dev/power user world is that there WILL be 3rd-party Kit-Kat integration back-engineered with a kernel that works. It's something of a DIY job, but at least the Galaxy Nexus was engineered from the start as a developer's phone and chances are that it'll happen sooner rather than later.

    Maybe they'll even shame Google into doing it officially in the end, too.
  • Truly shameful.

    The iPhone 4 was released in June 2010 and will run the new iOS 7. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was released in Nov 2011 which much fanfare being the Nexus phone (i.e. Google reference hardware blessed by Google to match the latest Android build and provide the conceptualized user experience by the developers). The Galaxy Nexus was launched with Android 4.0 and now we're learning it will not even make it to Android 4.5. What a shame.
    Jeremy Deats