The Galaxy Nexus is a pure Google phone, free of bloatware and designed to run Android exactly as Google envisions it. But on Verizon Wireless, that won’t be the case.
Although the Verizon Galaxy Nexus will run a mostly unmodified version of Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, the carrier will block Google Wallet, which lets you pay at some retailers by swiping your phone in front of a payment terminal, Computerworld reports. Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are working on their own payment system called Isis, and Google Wallet, backed by Sprint, would be a threat. Isis isn’t launching until next year, though, so Verizon Galaxy Nexus users won’t be able to use NFC payments at all.
Verizon will also install bloatware on the phone. Two apps are confirmed: My Verizon Mobile and Backup Assistant. The former is somewhat understandable, as it lets Verizon customers pay and manage their bills, but the latter is redundant given that Google also backs up your contacts automatically (and makes them available on other, non-Verizon devices). Fortunately, Android Ice Cream Sandwich has a bloatware removal tool to prevent unwanted software from gobbling up system resources.
Verizon hasn’t confirmed a release date or price for the Galaxy Nexus yet, but unnamed sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the phone will launch this month for $300, and a rumor from Droid Life says the phone will launch on December 9. Verizon’s meddling aside, the Galaxy Nexus still looks like the Android phone to beat. Our own Harry McCracken called it “a worthy rival (to the iPhone) in a way that previous Android phones have not been.”