Pro Tip: Setup your AT&T Nexus 6 without SIM Card to avoid carrier bloatware


nexus 6 phandroid upright

A while back, word got out that Google equipped carriers with the ability to have their apps automatically installed on the Nexus 6 or any other device with Android 5.0 Lollipop during the setup process. In the case of the Nexus 6, many cringed at the thought of having devices meant to be “pure” loaded up with obscene carrier apps, and for good reason — some of them just go absolutely overboard when it comes to bloatware.

Thankfully it seems you can avoid the bloatware altogether. Testing out our Nexus 6 units, we found that the installation will only be triggered during the setup process while a SIM card is inserted. To test this, Phandroid’s Derek Ross had a friend use a Straight Talk SIM (working on AT&T’s network) before setting up a Nexus 6. As reported, AT&T’s apps popped right up (they opted to include two apps that help you manage your account and monitor usage).

Derek decided to go through the setup process on a different Nexus 6 unit before inserting a different Straight Talk SIM (again, via AT&T’s network), and sure enough there were no extra apps to deal with. Inserting the SIM into the Nexus 6 after the process was over didn’t trigger any installs either, so it appears this step will only occur if you’re going through the initial setup process while the SIM is inserted.

The cherry on top is that even if you didn’t manage to dodge the extra downloads you can easily uninstall the apps as if you downloaded them from Google Play (in fact, our understanding is that the apps download straight from Google Play during the setup process). This is a great alternative to the norm which would typically include carriers pre-installing apps on the system partition and effectively blocking you from uninstalling them.

And even if uninstalling the apps wasn’t an option, we’re glad to see AT&T kept their count of automatically installed apps to just two instead of trying to shove every last bit of their wares down our throats. Let’s just hope the other carriers follow suit for their respective units. Be sure to keep all this in mind when you finally receive your Nexus 6 at some point in the near future

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Carriers are evil.
    We want them to be dumb pipes.
    They want to own us.

    1. And sadly it is the same story with cable companies

  2. I am that friend. And it sucked to boot up with 2 AT&T bloatware apps which I promptly uninstalled. Dumb that AT&T lets that crap get through on MVNO carriers too.

    1. Hey look, we made you famous! Epic fist bump.

  3. So ATT nexus 6 is sim unlocked ?

    1. The million dollar question

    2. We tested with two different Nexus 6 phones bought from Google Play, not bought from AT&T or Motorola. Our devices were unlocked from the get go.

      1. I hear the ones purchased through AT&T not only have their “Death Star” emblazoned on the back, but they also have a brief AT&T splash screen when they boot up. Does this method prevent the splash screen as well?

        1. The splash screen is a special boot animation that has it’s own separate partition that comes on Motorola phones that way carriers can update motoboot.img without actually altering the stock boot Nexus boot animation. To answer you question, no, this comes that was from the carrier.

          1. Thanks. I started my Android journey with a Nexus One($529 from the Play Store). Now that there’s finally another Nexus device I truly want, it seems worth it to save up and go the Play Store route again just for that same “pure Android” experience.

    3. The Nexus 6 purchased from AT&T is carrier locked to AT&T. You have been warned.

      1. This is false.

  4. Why can’t Google stand up to carriers like Apple?

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