The Galaxy Nexus will finally get Google Wallet, though it will have to wait until mid-year when Sprint launches its LTE service. When Sprint unveiled its future LTE device portfolio on Monday at CES, it revealed that its version of the Galaxy Nexus will come with the near field communications mobile software embedded.
The revelation comes as little surprise as Sprint is the only major U.S. operator to eschew the carrier-driven Isis mobile payment initiative and get fully behind Google’s NFC platform. Wallet made its debut on the Nexus S on Sprint’s network, but it has since proliferated to other parts of the world on the new Galaxy Nexus. The big exception, though, was Verizon Wireless, which asked Google to leave the capability off its device. Google complied, raising questions as to whether Verizon was flouting the open-access requirements on its LTE spectrum and whether Google should press the issue.
The only Galaxy Nexus users in the U.S. with Wallet are the ones that have bought European versions of the device. Google may plan to launch the new Nexus with T-Mobile or AT&T in the interim, but that seems unlikely they will support Wallet since both operator are founding Isis members along with Verizon. Sprint will probably be the first U.S. operator to support the full complement of Google services on Google’s showcase device.
The Nexus will probably have the same specs as the Verizon version, but it won’t be the same device. Sprint is launching its LTE network over its PCS bands, shared by its current CDMA network, meaning it will need a special radio chip. And the initial availability of the Nexus may be limited depending on whether Sprint decides to launch the device nationwide or over just in its initial 10 LTE launch markets, which include Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
At CES, Sprint announced two other devices with LTE connectivity for its coming launch: The LG Viper 4G, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) phone with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 4-inch screen, and the Sierra Wireless Tri-Network Hotspot, a Wi-Fi modem which connects to Sprint’s WiMAX, LTE and 3G networks. Sprint said it is on track to launch 15 LTE devices this year.