updated 04:35 pm EDT, Wed September 14, 2011
Nexus Prime may be buried by iPhone 5 release
The first official phone running Android's Ice Cream Sandwich update, alternately called the Google Nexus Prime or Samsung Droid Prime, may ship to Verizon roughly in sync with the iPhone 5. A rumor from a reported Verizon corporate worker claims that the flagship should be available "around [the] release of iPhone 5." He also told Droid-Life that there weren't indications at his level of the Droid badging reserved for Verizon-only phones, although he didn't rule it out.
The note isn't confirmed and has only a limited view of plans even if accurate. However, others close to the company are "well aware" of its existence and that it's certain to be in live testing. Google chairman Eric Schmidt has already gone on record as putting ICS on devices in October or November and has usually launched a major Android update with an official device running the stock interface.
If lined up accordingly, the timing would reinforce beliefs that Verizon skipped the Galaxy S II out of a view that it wouldn't compete with Apple as-is and needed a more advanced alternative. The Nexus Prime or Droid Prime may have a 4.5- or 4.6-inch screen, possibly above 480x800, and could switch to new TI processors, among other changes.
The timing could prove problematic for Google and Samsung. iPhone launches have traditionally overshadowed any rival platform launch at the same time and could relegate the Nexus Prime to a minor release in spite of its significance. Verizon also has a history of using launch window overlaps to become a kingmaker and determine which platform succeeds: it deliberately buried the BlackBerry Storm2 debut in favor of the original Droid when it decided that RIM wasn't successful in providing an iPhone rival.
Since the iPhone came to Verizon, the network has seen much higher sales of that device than any other smartphone. Verizon activated 2.3 million iPhones in the spring when its entire LTE-based device lineup, including all its 4G Android phones, reached just half that at 1.2 million. The change has shifted the balance of power away from Android on the network.