Samsung’s coveted Nexus-class Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich handset can be yours today. It promises Google Wallet and 4G LTE data speeds — but there’s a catch.
If you’re a loyal Sprint subscriber and a fan of pure Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), today is your lucky day. As promised, the carrier has added Google’s flagship Android ICS phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, to its lineup.
Available for $ 199.99 with a 2-year contract, the Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus is (as you’d expect) nearly identical the Verizon Nexus which first went on sale in December 2011. That version was lauded with a 4.5-star rating and a CNET Editors’ Choice award. However, the Sprint version will have at least two big differences — one negative (initially), and one positive (at least potentially).
The Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus will be one of three announced phones to be compatible with Sprint’s 4G LTE network. (The LG Viper, also releasing today, is another, as is the HTC Evo 4G LTE, due to hit stores later in the spring.)
The problem? Sprint is in the middle of transitioning 4G network technologies — from WiMax to LTE. Last we heard, Sprint was ready to light up 10 cities with LTE by the middle of the year. Complicating things is the fact that the new LTE phones are not backwards-compatible with WiMax.
Bottom line: prospective owners of those new phones (including the Galaxy Nexus) should know that they won’t be able to get 4G data speeds until at least June — and then only if they live in one of the markets getting the new 4G service from Sprint. Think of it as basically buying a 3G phone that’s future-proofed for Sprint’s upcoming 4G network.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a Sprint advantage
Though the Sprint Galaxy Nexus won’t surf on 4G LTE straight out of the gate, it will immediately boast a feature the Verizon Galaxy Nexus can’t match: support for Google Wallet. In fact, customers who sign up for Google’s mobile payment service within a week of activating their phone will receive a $ 10 credit. Sweetening the deal even further, Google will dole out an additional $ 40 three weeks after registration.
What’s the verdict?
CNET will have a full review of the Sprint version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Sprint later this week. That said, the LTE issue is going to be a sticking point no matter what. But the Bigger issue for the Nexus may be that it’s a 2011 phone, which is downright ancient in Android time. Sprint customers will probably want to hold out at least a few more weeks, when we’ll be able to compare the Nexus to the aforementioned HTC Evo 4G LTE. Stay tuned.