Two years of Google Support is as Far as the Nexus S Will Go – Fare?
The Nexus brand has known a huge leap in popularity with the launch of their third device, the Galaxy Nexus, along with the forth major version of the Android OS. Before the Samsung made device, there was the Nexus S, also manufactured by the Koreans and the Nexus One by HTC. Each device brought a new version of the OS, in case of the Nexus One it was Froyo and then Gingerbread (2.3) with the Nexus S.
The HTC Nexus One only made it to Gingerbread in terms of updates for the device. At the moment Android 4.0 was announced, Google explained that due to the hardware limitations of the device, the new version of the OS wouldn’t provide a satisfactory user experience and therefor it should remain on Gingerbread.
With the Nexus S, the device was updated to Android 2.3.5 and then 2.3.6 Gingerbread. When the Galaxy Nexus was released it soon after got updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean was announced this year and the Nexus S was among the devices to get it, as Android version 4.1.1, along with the Galaxy Nexus. Later it got updated, again along with the Galaxy Nexus, to a small but welcome version 4.1.2 – still Jelly Bean. What about the newly announced Android 4.2. Well, according to Google’s Jean-Baptiste Queru, “there is no support for 4.2 on Nexus S and Xoom. Those devices should continue using 4.1.2”. Thus ends the story of a device that has seen updates to the most recent versions of the OS for about two years.
The Galaxy Nexus, launched running Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich, was then updated to 4.0.4 to fix a lot of issues with the OS. Later came Jelly Bean 4.1.1, then 4.1.2 and recently the OTA files were distributed for Android 4.2.
So why isn’t the Nexus S no longer supported. That is one aspect Jean-Baptiste Queru failed to clear. Could it be the hardware limitations. The Nexus S is powered by a 1 Ghz Cortex A8 CPU with 512 MB of RAM and a PowerVR 540 GPU. It is the same configuration as the Galaxy S that never made it past Gingerbread, while the Nexus S tasted 4.1.2 Jelly Bean before Google decided to leave it behind. I’m sure we’ll see manufacturers release mid to low-end devices with about the same hardware as the Nexus S next year, running Android 4.2. So far we can only speculate that Google is trying to make room for a new generation of devices and concentrate their efforts there. There is no longer room for “old” smartphones, like the Nexus S. While the manufacturers can “cut” some features in order to provide an acceptable level of performance, Google is not willing to sacrifice anything in order to raise the Android version. What is the point of having Android 4.2 without the RAM consuming features? Be it a good or a bad decision, only the future will reveal.