When is a Nexus No Longer a Nexus?

Nexus X

Phil Nickinson, Android Central Podcast #211: “I don’t even know what ‘Nexus’ is.”

Ryan Whitwam, Android Police Podcast #136: “Fastboot-oem-unlock, that’s what ‘Nexus’ has always been for me.”

So it’s a good thing that the Nexus 6 still has an unlockable bootloader, because in just about every other aspect it’s not looking very much like a Nexus at all. I’ve written previously about its high price and the disastrously-bad AT&T version; now it seems like another historic strength of the Nexus line is being taken off the table. Two posts last week—one from Phandroid and another from Android Authority—report that Shamu (aka the Moto Nexus/Nexus 6) may receive software updates from your carrier rather than Google directly.

Can we call this thing a dud yet?

The news comes via a change to a Google support page:

Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 9, and Nexus 10 devices receive the latest version of Android directly from Google. Once an update is available, it can take up to two weeks for it to reach your device. Based on your carrier, it may take longer than two weeks after release to get an update.

In the best-case scenario this would only apply to the AT&T-branded Nexus 6; at worst, it might be a “feature” baked into Android 5.0 that would affect older Nexus phones as well. I’ll admit, that second one is probably a bit of a stretch. But even so, a big selling point for the Nexus line is now effectively gone.

Even worse (for Nexus) is that there’s at least one other high-powered handset on the market with both fastboot-oem-unlock and direct updates from the manufacturer—or software partner, if we’re splitting hairs. I’m talking of course about the OnePlus One, which, by the way, retails for less than half the price of a Nexus 6 with comparable storage. Hey, wasn’t an affordable price tag another hallmark of the Nexus line…?