Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus is a Wi-Fi tethering lemon

Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus is a Wi-Fi tethering lemon

Summary: Looking for a great smartphone and LTE 4G tethering combo? Forget the Galaxy Nexus.



So in case you guys have been wondering "Where the hell has Perlow been for an entire week?" the answer is "I've been moved."

Yes, I've packed up the New Jersey regional offices of Tech Broiler and trekked my way down to the Sunshine State, where I'll be resuming blogging and fanboy-tweaking operations in the frying summer heat of South Florida.

Florida. The land of retirees, great Cuban food and lots of citrus. As in lemons.

Unfortunately the lemons I'm referring to aren't the edible kind. They're of the technological variety. 

You see, right now I'm in-between homes and living in temporary housing, so I have been forced to rely on my Verizon 4G LTE service to get my broadband.

Historically, since I became a Verizon 4G customer, I have been very happy with my LTE Wi-Fi tethering. The Motorola Droid Bionic, my first LTE device, which I have since passed down to my wife was a very stable device for doing this.

But ever since I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus back in December, Verizon's LTE tethering stability has been absolutely atrocious. The CDMA version of Galaxy Nexus as a whole has been a cranky device, hardware-wise, and I've generally been disappointed in it overall.

Also Read: The Radio Performance Disparity of the Galaxy Nexus on GSM and CDMA (Binary Outcast)

The Ice Cream Sandwich software on this so-called flagship Google Experience Android device has been dreadfully slow to get updated by Verizon due to its proprietary LTE software bits/drivers and has been rife with bugs.

Software applications as well as built-in Google apps crash constantly and the phone would simply reboot randomly.

At the moment, I'm already on my first replacement device since buying the unit back in December. Verizon had determined the 4G tranciever was defective and sent me a new unit just under a month ago, and we had hoped that would resolve the stability and connectivity issues.

Well, it didn't.

This week, my wife and I have been housed in an Extended Stay hotel in the Fort Lauderdale area, which is utterly saturated with 4G signal. Both my Nexus and her Bionic have full bars of 4G, so the speed and reception should be optimal.

In fact, the application on the phones as well as on our Wi-Fi tethered devices (iPad, laptops) indicate a 19Megabit per second average transfer rate. This should be ideal for 4G Wi-Fi tethering, right?

Well, this is simply not the case. After connecting to the Nexus via Wi-Fi hotspot mode, the 4G connection simply locks up, or the signal just drops dead. When you attempt to re-start the hospot service, the provisioning process locks up and you have to reboot the phone. Every 15 minutes. Wash, rinse and repeat.

So of course I "did the needful" and called up Verizon's tech support, which of course is always experiencing "greater than expected" hold times. After a very long tech support call Friday night, and trying various solutions, it was determined that the 4G SIM card was defective and it needed to be replaced.

So the next day, I went into a Verizon corporate store and had the chip swapped out.

I got back to my hotel, and the same issues with the tethering re-appeared. I'm now at the point where I want to throw this Korean piece of junk against the wall.

So after having a hearty Sunday brunch, I went to the Verizon corporate store on North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Jocelyn, one of the customer service reps (and an absolute saint who should be promoted to a store manager) spent over an hour with me diagnosing the phone.

I asked if I could have my unlimited data plan transferred to a new device, a brand new Mi-Fi wireless access point, that I would be willing to pay full retail on.

The answer was no. Verizon considers unlimited data plans a "Smartphone Feature" and can only be used on a new smartphone device. I call foul on Big Red. If the customer wants to transfer a grandfathered plan to a device they are willing to pay for without a carrier subsidy, then they should allow it.

Jocelyn got on the phone with tech support for an hour herself, and had to wipe my device and test it with an in-store iPad to determine that the Nexus was faulty. In fact, every single Galaxy Nexus Verizon has sold has had broken tethering service since the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 update was rolled out several weeks ago.

Couldn't the store have been advised of this in some type of company memo or an entry into their support database before wasting everyone's time?

Apparently, a new Over-The-Air software update has been pushed out as of July 6 to address the issue. However, you can't force this update, you have to wait to get it. They can't even directly provision it at a Verizon store if you are experiencing this issue.

I wasted an well over an hour of my time on a Sunday when Verizon simply could have told me a forthcoming software update would fix it.

Now, one would think that the $20 per month tethering charge would be refunded until this issue was resolved. Jocelyn, sadly, did not have the authority to do this, and Verizon refuses to do it as well.

Well you know what I refuse to do? I refuse to reccommend Verizon Wireless's LTE service or their junk Samsung equipment until the company resolves this.

Has Verizon given you the run around with your Wi-Fi tethering woes on Android? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Verizon, Android, Mobile OS, Smartphones


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Not Broadband

    People continue to think that a Mi-Fi hotspot or adding tethering to their smartphone is going to equal what they get from a dedicated broadband connection. I'm sorry one is a dedicated data connection and the other is a data convience connection. FL has a few cheap boardband options, stop relying on wireless carriers.

    The VZW Android ICS has a bug, wait for the fix. Does is shock you the carriers don't communicate this out to all their stores / employees? Can't sell devices if your told it doesn't work properly. The store and employees lone purporse is to sell you services.

    The answer to this mess is Google needs to take Android back and stop letting OEM and Carriers fiddle with the code to their own (selfish) desires. Clear upgrades and end of life roadmap for all Android users would make the platform better.
    • I have great tethering with my phone

      In fact, as soon as I can't get a wifi connection I turn on tethering and have had no issues with respect to connectivity. Your mileage may vary.
  • I'm beginning to suspect that none of the US carriers

    want subscribers to tether their "smartphones" to any of
    their devices, but they will sell you a second device, complete
    with yet another service agreement, probably capped, for
    another 2 year agreement. Some degree of oversight by
    some authority needs to step up to the plate and go to bat
    for consumers, but so far no government agency seems to
    be willing to "bite the hand that feeds it".
    Or, possibly I'm just being too cynical.
  • Galaxy Nexus

    I am not going to deny that someone had a bad experience with their phone, but I have had my G'Nex since December and have never had an issue with it. I have used it as a hotspots so many times I have lost count and have found the signal to be fast and reliable. What's more, I live in Florida, in a semi rural area with about 465,000 inhabitants for the entire county. There are spots in my county that are dead zones to any signal and other spots that are not yet 4G. Yet when I have relied on my G'Nex as a hot spot, it has delivered very well. I have also had nearly flawless performance from it while mobile, roaming through different areas of the state. My only glitches have been temporary hiccups where there was a gap.between towers in some remote areas. Perhaps the.problem is not the phone but issues relating to the heavy network use down in Fort Lauderdale. I find it odd that this article should appear just as the Nexus has been cleared again for sale.
  • Verizon Galaxy Nexus Tethering

    The Verizon Galaxy Nexus Tethering & Portable Hotspot has worked great for me. I have used it quite often over the last two weeks.
  • gnex owner

    Well I have owned my gnex since it came out. You mentioned updates from verizon. Aren't you in the tech business? And your not unlocked and rooted? I unlocked and root this "developer" device second day I owned it. Update problem solved. Unlimited developer support. I cancelled my high speed home internet a year ago and haven't looked back. Both phones in my house are wifi tethered and all devices in home connect via wifi to my gnex with no issues. TV, DVD player, computer, tablet. No lemon here not sure your malfunction. This has been by far an elite device . Wait jelly bean just released I'll flash update to that next week while you wait for a over protective service provider to release it. This article i pointless and one persons opinion. You aren't rooted? Then get an iPhone.
    • I have other devices for rooting.

      I'm not going to root mission critical smartphone device and void its warranty just for the express purpose of playing with the latest ICS or Jelly Bean builds. I have tablets and other test phones for that. I need this device for business travel and communication, it would be idiocy to keep it anything other than stock software.
      • Rooting is Idiocy?

        How odd you should express that sentiment. You make it sould as though rooting a phone is just for those who want to "play". There is certainly nothing idotic about rooting your cell phone. Rooting the Galaxy Nexus and flashing a stable ROM, that includes the latest ICS build for CDMA phones (IMM76K), and the new VZW radios, followed by a complete factory reset, is the ONLY thing that has enabled my to use this phone as a serious communication device for business.

        Yes, it's a lemon. And yes, you should expect to be able to use it without having to root it. However I certainly would not hesitate to root it if that were the way to turn this lemon into a useful, mostly dependable device that one can actually use for communication on a daily basis. It sure beats waiting out a two-year contract with a lousy phone, if you can fix it.
        • I'm with you on this one

          Purchased on release date and lived with 4.0.2 for a month before unlocking / rooting / roming, couldn't be happier now.

          4.0.2 didn't even allow me to connect to my corporate exchange server and after dealing with waiting for new releases for my OG Droid, I knew better than to stick with the masses.

          I'm now running AOKP Build 38 with no random crashes and better battery life.

          Bricking? It's REALLY easy to restore this phone if something goes wrong (like you skipped a step in the instructions).

          The GNex rootkit is quite possibly the easiest way to unlock / root. Under an hour and you're good to go.
      • Welcome

        Hello jperlow - welcome to South Florida. I've lived just oustide of Fort Lauderdale (Sunrise) for the last 15 years and have grown to love the area. I enjoy reading your articles so keep up the great work!
      • Just lost credibility

        Although I agree your device should work the fact of the mater is it doesn't. You could root fix the problem the re-lock the device at later date when Verizon releases the update. Frankly your credibility as a tech person has come into question. In the time it took you to write this article you could have been up and running. But then again this america and people would rather complain than solve their problems.
        Marshall Taylor
      • Had mine since release

        No issues other than when dropping from 4g to 3g, I'd lose data for about 30 seconds or so.

        Maybe it's you. I've used tethering for months with no issues, on a stock device.

        Whatever it is, they don't "all" have the same problem.
      • still sucks on Jelly Bean

        I have had mine since december with 4 different macs and constantly drops. It never goes offline from a connection to mac, just stops connecting to the internet. Signal strength and connection looks good, but gateway just pukes. I fallback to tethering my ipad, so I have been ignoring it, but did update help anyone else?
    • As soon as you have to root a consumer device...

      it isn't a consumer device anymore.
  • Galaxy Nexus

    You still have a defective phone. I've been using the Galaxy Nexus for several months now after MY Droid Bionic lost its 3G transceiver and all I could get was 4G or nothing when it wasn't available. I ended up buying the stupid thing because I ended up bricking the Bionic when I tried to reflash it to stock and didn't have time to screw around with it to fix it. I drive a truck over the road all 48 states and my cell phone and data connection are literally my life line. It works fine. As a matter of fact, it works better then the Bionic did when roaming on down the road. The Bionic had a nasty habit of freezing and rebooting itself when switching between towers while enroute if you left the hotspot feature on. Got really aggravating when talking on the phone to someone. The Nexus doesn't do that. I use it as my exclusive data connection now. Only every once in a while do things get so bogged down and bloated does it require a reboot, but that seems to be on the WiFi end of things rather than on the 3G/4G side of things.
    • How many defective phones...

      Does one have to go through before the product is considered a lemon? In the auto industry there are clear guidelines for this.
      • Mildly Amusing

        I'm still a little confused about the part where you said this product is a lemon, then go on to say that it has been explained to you that there is a software update to fix it (as a formal solution), not to mention all the other "optional" solutions (i.e. rooting, flashing, etc). So a software glitch causes a hardware product to be classified as a lemon?

        I agree with the above posters. Too many people in America would prefer to complain, threaten to leave companies, "stop recommending companies/brands/products", etc. instead of finding actual solutions to the problem.

        I have a GNex and have yet to come across an issue with it. Instead of exacerbating the problem, how about finding a solution that works, and sharing that with the public?

        Stop being part of the problem, and needing everyone else to hold your hand through every bump in the road. Find solutions to your own problems or ask meaningful questions and you will more than likely find helpful people out there. Complaints get you nowhere. Obviously.
        • yeah

          My complaints got me not one but two nexus replacement devices and now I shall receive my free Samsung galaxy s3 via fed ex tomorrow courtesy of big red of course. I get to keep my unlimited data and I don't have to sign a new contract. When Verizon sends you lemons make lemonade : )
  • You got that wrong Jason!

    I went through Verizon smartphone after smartphone looking for Good Tethering and it didn't exist... Crud, the Galaxy Nexus was about the best I have found on Verizon and even my iPhone 4s had issues.

    Eventually, my only solution was to jump to AT&T...

    I think Verizon is over selling some markets and this is a problem you are only going to see when your market is over sold.
    • Not the market

      It's the ICS software and the hardware/firmware issues with the Galaxy Nexus device. Verizon has admitted to the problems. I know several people which use Verizon LTE with Mi-Fi devices in the greater FTL/Miami area and have no issues.