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The Nexus devices will be offered by carriers in Japan (joining Canada and the UK)

Three of Japan's mobile carriers will sell Google's new Nexus devices, including one offering the Gold 6P. Will other countries and carriers follow suit?

Published onOctober 8, 2015

nexus 6p first look aa (14 of 23)

Despite carrier plans to sell the new Nexi in both the UK and Canada, American customers are only being given the chance to purchase directly from Google for the time being. Some have suggested this may be a strategic move to increase Project Fi usage. In Japan however, there is a very different situation going on, as here we are given no less than four formal options: one the direct through-Google approach, and the other three via local telecoms, though unfortunately no one carrier will sell both devices.

While the Google Store was the first to offer them up for pre-order after the launch event went live last week, carrier NTT docomo subsequently announced its new lineup and included the Nexus 5X among it. Only the 32GB storage configuration will be sold:

NTT docomo Nexus 5X
NTT docomo’s Nexus 5X product preview page.

Just a little over two hours ago, Softbank announced the Nexus 6P, as part of its new Fall 2015/Winter 2016 line-up. This makes the carrier – which currently owns Sprint – the only one in Japan to offer the device. Interestingly enough the Gold color variant is available for pre-order, however only in a 64GB storage configuration. 

Pricing is currently unknown for the phablet, however it will likely cost the same as through Google if not more so given the fees associated with carriers, such as one to change devices or to sign a new contract. Given that Softbank is not offering the full range of storage options for all the the Nexus 6P variants, it is also too early to make a definitive conclusion as to if Google itself will offer the Gold variant in either 32GB or 128GB configurations. Softbank meanwhile, will not offer any of the colors in 128GB.

Golden Nexus 6P
Google Japan’s portal for the Nexus 6P Special Edition does not detail any storage configurations or pricing information.

Y!mobile, which is owned by Softbank, has also updated its website to reflect a refreshed product line-up. Included is the Nexus 5X:

y!Mobile Nexus 5X
Y!Mobile’s Nexus 5X preview page.

Interestingly enough, whereas NTT docomo is only offering the 5X in either Quartz or Carbon color options, Y!mobile will sell the Ice variant as well. Pricing is currently unknown with a vague “end of October” release date given.

Why Japan? Why?

Suffice to say why it is so many carriers in Japan are offering Google’s latest Nexus devices is a curious consideration at best. Four possible theories can be suggested, however number two could apply to both Canada and the UK as well:

  1. In light of Samsung’s apparent decision not to release either the Galaxy Note 5 or the Galaxy S6 Edge+ in Japan, carriers have a proverbial hole in their new Android line-ups.
  2. The devices are quite expensive overseas, and given the lack of Google-provided financing options here, carriers may be seen as a major way to ease the financial burden.
  3. The whole “SIM free” issue may be still rather new and unfamiliar to many customers in Japan, thus inherently limiting the potential of Google’s new products.
  4. The Nexus 6, which was sold by Y!mobile last year, may have done relatively well, prompting either Google or carriers themselves to express an interest in selling this year’s offerings.

Whatever the case may be, the fact that customers in select countries will have multiple options to purchase the new pair of Nexus devices is definitely a good thing. Google may have its own reasons for not currently offering them through carriers in the USA, though at the very least Japan’s privy to both this and the Gold Nexus 6P means things could change down the line, or that additional countries may also offer them through alternative sales channels as well.

Wrap up

nexus 6p vs nexus 6 quick look aa (15 of 18)

With these new announcements comes some major excitement for customers living here in the Land of the Rising Sun, but also brings some interesting questions as well: just how much will the devices cost? When will they be available exactly? And, perhaps the most important one for some: which of the three carriers, if any, will lock-down the devices to their own network? Only time will tell.

Perhaps the larger issue though, is just what will happen overseas: Will the Nexus devices be announced in new markets and/or through carriers in addition to Google’s own store? Given that two other international markets will also sell the devices via carriers (in addition to Google itself) could the United States wind up being the paradoxical odd-man-out in this story?

We want to hear your thoughts on this story! Would you prefer carriers in your country to offer the Nexus devices as well? Is buying from Google best? Leave us a comment below!

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