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Verizon rumored to carry new 'Nexus' phones

Tweet from known leaker Evan Blass places quotation marks around Nexus. What could that mean?

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google's Nexus phones may have lined up Verizon as one carrier.

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Verizon has been tipped off as one carrier that will sell this year's new Nexus phones.

A tweet Thursday from known and typically accurate leaker Evan Blass, aka @evleaks, said simply: "Verizon is going to carry the two 'Nexus' handsets (note the quotation marks)." Ok, so we have a bit to chew on in that one sentence. Let's provide some background on Google's Nexus phones first.

Verizon carrying Nexus phones would mark a return to a more traditional carrier relationship for Google. The search giant has had an on-again-off-again relationship with the carriers, often insisting on selling its Nexus phones directly to consumers, with mixed results. The Nexus phones come unlocked from Google with stock Android installed, meaning no additional features, software or bloatware to muddle the experience.

Launched in 2014, the Nexus 6 phone was sold by all four major US carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The version offered by Verizon was severely criticized for being crammed with bloatware. As a result of Verizon's tinkering, many users felt the Nexus 6 offered by the carrier was no longer a true Nexus.

So the quotation marks could be a subtle hint by Blass that this year's Nexus phones served up by Verizon may be subject to the same overhaul that hurt the Nexus 6.

Another theory: Verizon may sell the phones but give them a different monicker, perhaps losing the Nexus name.

A question pops up from the tweet. Would Verizon have an exclusive to sell this year's Nexus phones, or will the other major US carriers also get it on the action? Last year, Google reversed course and has been selling the current Nexus 5X and 6P phones directly from its website. The US carriers don't sell the 2015 models, though they do support the phones on their networks, and third-party retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy sell the phones as well. Snagging Verizon and possibly other carriers to sell this year's lineup would mean Google wants to expand the potential audience.

Reports have said that this year's Nexus lineup will include two models made by HTC. The larger phone, code-named Marlin, is expected to sport a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display with a 2,560x1440-pixel resolution. The smaller device, dubbed Sailfish, would reportedly come with a 5-inch Full HD display with a 1,920x1080-pixel resolution.

Other rumored specs include a quad-core Qualcomm processor, a 12-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a USB-C port and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Verizon declined CNET's request for comment. Google told CNET it doesn't comment on rumors or speculation.