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AT&T Nexus 6 carrier branded, and reportedly SIM locked too

If a new report proves correct, the AT&T Nexus 6 isn't just carrier branded, it also is SIM locked.

Published onNovember 20, 2014

nexus 6 review aa (8 of 14)

What makes a Nexus a “Nexus”? Some of the answers that come to mind include quick updates, the lack of carrier bloat, stock Android, lack of carrier branding and less control from the carriers. It seems that the Nexus 6 is challenging at least some of these assumptions, however.

Just the other day it was suggested that the AT&T Nexus 6 features carrier branding on the back and on the boot screen. That’s clearly not very Nexus-y, though we have seen such moves before with the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon’s network. Beyond that, a new report from Android Police claims that the AT&T Nexus 6 is also SIM-locked, pre-loaded with AT&T’s ringtone suite and won’t tether without verifying subscription status.

Now it’s important to note that the SIM lock and all the above things are stored independently of the device’s core ROM, which means that the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6 still runs the same Google updated ROM as any other Nexus 6. That also means that things like ringtones are separate from the ROM (in a special OEM block partition) and therefore flashing a new ROM won’t remove them. It may be possible to remove the ringtones and at least some of the other bloat through rooting, though that remains unseen for now.

While it’s more than a little frustrating to see all this added stuff on the AT&T Nexus 6 (and likely at least Verizon’s model too…), there’s a silver lining here: at least the ROMs themselves aren’t affected by carrier meddling, and so updates should still occur reasonably fast over OTA and things like factory ROMs and custom ROMs will continue to play nicely. That’s more than could be said for the Galaxy Nexus.

What do you think of the idea of Google allowing carriers to ‘customize’ the Nexus with their own apps, services and other modifications? A big deal, or are you not bothered as long as it doesn’t effect the frequency and support of new updates?