Majority of Android Phones Are SoL When It Comes To OS Updates - HotHardware
Majority of Android Phones Are SoL When It Comes To OS Updates

Majority of Android Phones Are SoL When It Comes To OS Updates

When it comes to Android vs. Apple iOS comparisons, fans of the small green machine have a lot of ammunition they can lob at Apple. Devices tend to be more expensive, other phones often offer more advanced features late in the iPhone's upgrade cycle, and Android phones often have microSD slots for expandable storage.

A recent investigation into long-term device support has shone a spotlight on one area where Apple products leave the Android equivalents eating dust: software updates. The situation is honestly worse than we suspected when we alluded to device manufacturers' being entirely focused on short-term profits and quick phone launches. All of the Apple hardware currently for sale, including the nearly 2.5 year-old iPhone 3GS, supports the latest iOS version, iOS 5. The iPhone 3G, now over three years old, received its last OS update (4.2.1) less than a year ago.


The Nexus One has the best Android track record--and even it can't run Ice Cream Sandwich

The Android situation is much worse. The survey at theunderstatement tracks 18 Android phones, all of which had a launch price of at least $100, with the majority in the $180-$230 price range. Of the 18 phones tracked, 10 of them were at least two major Android versions behind within their two year contract period, 11 were updated for less than a year, 15 don't support the nearly year-old Gingerbread OS, and 16 of the 18 will never be updated to ICS.

The only Android phone with an update record that even approaches Apple's is HTC's Nexus One, though the HTC Evo 4G and the Droid Incredible aren't too badly off. Motorola is easily the worst provider on the list with multiple devices now at least three Android versions behind. The chart is striking because, as the author notes, nearly all of the owners of all the devices are still under contract. Phones specifically advertised as "built to last" fare no better than the others.

Carriers have good reason to avoid OS updates, if they can—pushing out a new OS means dealing with the customers whose phones don't update properly, or who lose app functionality. Apple's strict control of the iOS infrastructure helps to simplify the update process. Given the laundry list of bugs most phones ship with, it's not always clear that the carriers are capable of fixing the shipping software, much less pushing out a new version.

The flip side to all of this, however, is that paying customers have a right to expect prompt service and promised features. "Because we're really terrible at providing updates" isn't a valid reason not to do, and the fire-and-forget nature of the smartphone business could have significant negative consequences down the road. Security flaws in old versions of Android could expose millions of customers still using devices a carrier never figured out how to update effectively.

More to the point, it illustrates a fundamental difference between how Apple treats the iPhone versus how the carriers think of their devices. The 'service' section of a service contract should apply to more than a right to use the network. What's the point of having a computer in one's pocket if you can't update it?
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It's not really the manufacturers at fault here. Cellular carriers decide who gets smartphone OS updates and who does not - and since Apple specified up-front, in their contract with the carriers, that iOS will be updated "promptly," iPhone users do get them fairly fast. Android smartphone manufacturers missed the boat on this one; and since it is obviously cheaper for cell carriers to ignore updates than it is to provide them, Verizon, ATT, et al choose to screw the consumer and save a few bucks. No suprise, really. But it's one of the many reasons I won't buy a smartphone.

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Yeah, this stinks. It's part of the reason I seek out the most moddable devices. Running Cyanogenmod 7.1 on an SGSII right now and it's awesome. Best part is, the team releases nightly (yes nightly) OS builds that incorporate any new code from Google or community created tweaks, features, etc. My phone is running GB 2.3.7 right now and SMOKES the stock ROM in terms of performance. Sunspider and Browsermark performance on this thing are WAY out in front of the stock ROM and even most tablets.

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updating software on devices with varying hardwares is not a trivial matter at all. Apple does what it does because it has total control over both hardware and software which simplifies the process majorly. When they write a piece of code they know exactly the hardware that is going to run it. one of the reasons why Apple take longer to introduce new computers, drivers quality control.

That's why Macs are historically more stable than PCs. Almost all Windows crashes come from poorly written drivers and Microsoft struggled for long to get Windows to handle that problem better.

What people don't get is that they are two different models. You either control both, have less choices but better stability and support or you have a variatie of hardwares but weaker software implementation and support.

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KreepyK:
That's why Macs are historically more stable than PCs. Almost all Windows crashes come from poorly written drivers and Microsoft struggled for long to get Windows to handle that problem better.

I have to disagree... I mean in today's times, Windows is about as stable as Mac OS X; back then it was a different story as monopolies were in effect, companies were out to make a quick buck and they didn't care if they sold a shoddy product or a product that didn't work as advertised, and Internet Explorer was the most popular browser by default. And even back then Windows's instability was overstated; running a clean copy of either Windows 98 or Windows ME worked fine and it barely crashed for me, barely. I do admit that you were right about the drivers but the instability is still overstated.

The Macintosh is not free from this as well. While it was stable because it had a closed system, it was also in a dream world of it's own as it had tons of security flaws and holes that nobody thought to exploit because well, not many people used a lot of Macs to justify writing malicious code for it, now that the Mac has risen in popularity, the tables have turned and the Mac is receiving as much malware as Windows is right now, and Apple is doing it's part to fix all of the holes it can, least it loses it's customer base in an instant.

A side note: This closed system has lead to stuff like OSx86 and Jailbreaking, I mean most people want to have control of the devices they purchased, they don't want to be tied down to a system they may or may not think is good, and they certainly want to use Apple software on anything they want, including non-Apple devices...

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Oh yeah, today, Windows is seriously stable which is quite impressive considering all the possible hardware combinations you can use to run it. Microsoft, monopolistic, for sure but definitely not because of internet explorer. A browser is a basic element in every operating system. Saying that you can bundle an operating system with a browser because there are other browsers in the market is like saying you can't bundle a car with wheels. The best thing you can do is make sure the customer is capable of replacing the defualt wheels with whatever they want. and Microsoft never really stopped anyone from changing the default browser.

I used 98 and Me for years and the instability was definitely overstated but I still had nightmares installing new hardwares on them and it's the vendors fault and lack of standards more than anyone else. But most those issues were gone by the introduction of XP.

Security wise, Macs are extremely flawed. But stability and security are two seperate things. It's much easier to write a stable program than a secure one, and to be technically correct, it's impossible to make anything perfectly secure. And I really think Mac users sooner or later will face major exploits and security issues.

Most of the time, people give up their liberty for security and a stable economic system. and the situation is very similar in the IT world. I'm waiting for a revolution like the french one that would hopefully be a wake and help establish better policies that side with the people and not the cabals.

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KreepyK:
Microsoft, monopolistic, for sure but definitely not because of internet explorer. A browser is a basic element in every operating system. Saying that you can bundle an operating system with a browser because there are other browsers in the market is like saying you can't bundle a car with wheels.

I didn't say that... I just said that the way the web was designed around Internet Explorer and the way people were unaware of alternatives (this declined around the time Firefox was released.), it constituted somewhat of a monopoly. You know back then, most websites required you to use Internet Explorer because of features Microsoft implemented. I mean if they wanted to make a browser then they could not include proprietary components that limit the functionality of the web.

KreepyK:
Security wise, Macs are extremely flawed. But stability and security are two separate things. It's much easier to write a stable program than a secure one, and to be technically correct, it's impossible to make anything perfectly secure. And I really think Mac users sooner or later will face major exploits and security issues.

They already did. They've had MacSweeper and then there's that Adobe Flash virus scare. The point I was trying to make is that the flaws in the operating system are more important then the stability or security of the program and there are tons of programs out there that exploit flaws, track everything you do, steal information and some even manage to scam you (also known as scareware.) The point is, while Windows does have fewer security flaws then before, both have severe flaws that allow for stuff like this to happen and both are working hard to stop it in it's tracks.

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im going to do what Marco did :), as soon as my phone gets here -.-.(should of made two orders so they shipped my phones while my sister's stay on backorder...) Kreepy makes a good point to this issue, its a choose one must make.

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When I was looking at phones, the version of Android the the upgradability was something I looked at.

What I found coincides with the findings of this article. That Motorola manufactured phones were the slowest to get upgrade. HTC was one of the better ones.

But, as mentioned, it's not just about the phone manufacturers, but also the Providers. As it stands right now, ATT says that 2.3.3 is the most up to date version of Android. Though, my understand is that I should be able to use other versions. What is disconcerting is that ATT doesn't even post what version of Android comes with most of the phones. Like it's some kind of bad thing..

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Yeah Marco I am waiting for them to get a stable Cyanogenmod for my Sensation. There are side builds even side builds of older Cyanogen but there not by the original builders. I am running Revolution right now which is decent but there are issues, of course my phone is also now a Sensation HD with Beatz audio as well. I don't really use my phone to listen to music so the advantage is not that great for me. With the HD ROM which I will be flashing back to standard revolution tomorrow it is ok, but I would much rather have Cyanogen personally as it is more stable (almost to a stock degree) generally, especially when it is the official Cyanogenmod. As far as the carriers controlling anything here it is largely a myth really. There a all kinds of ROMs out there for everything especially the older phones, and the older they are much like on a Linux build the more stable and up to date they are as well if they are popular MOD's.

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This is certainly true but you can always root your phone... There are many forums that offer up cooked ROMS with newer versions of Android. I do think that users should be supported for at least their contract period and as soon as manufactures/carriers stop providing updates to those phones they need to pull them off the shelf.

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I so need to get more up to date with modding and getting to the base of my smartphone (finally jumped into the market and got a droid X about a year ago) I use to only by phones I could do some customization to (altho lightly, it was nice to put my own pics and ringtones on them using BIT PIM and such) I haven't done anything with the ROM on my Droid, I've found it easy with apps to make lots of cool changes and have been happy with it, what advantages would I really gain by changing the ROM and where is the best place to learn about that?

On the other topic of Mac vs Windows, I've always felt like Mac (while a great product) would be like purchasing a car that will only go the speed limit, they are capable of so much more but Apple throttles and controls their product too much for my taste. I like being able to upgrade and update my purchases with out starting from scratch with a whole new machine.

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guy, i hate to break it to you, but the carries dont care about upgrading software on phones. THe only thing they really care about it making more money by adding new customers. They more than likely hold off upgrading phones so that people have to buy new ones. its very sad but thats the truth of it. If you want the updates in a timely manner, because thing to do is root. Thats really the only way.

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I know most people probably dont care, and considering how long it took for mango to come out it might be questionable anyway, but what about how this applies to WP7? Nokias new WP7 phones look pretty awesome, and since microsoft has more control over the hardware, more phones are likely to be upgradable right?

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With the WP7+ units it is a total different ball park really. They do look awesome but they are also M$ property not the carriers. The carriers pay M$ to be so honored t carry there HW and because of it and the contract to do so they answer to M$ just like or even more so than they do to Apple!

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rapid1:

With the WP7+ units it is a total different ball park really. They do look awesome but they are also M$ property not the carriers. The carriers pay M$ to be so honored t carry there HW and because of it and the contract to do so they answer to M$ just like or even more so than they do to Apple!

Well with the initial WP7 update, the Donut one, most of the carriers chose to hold it back from end users some never made it available. Microsoft finally got them on point with Mango, hopefully with Tango as well. on a side note what will they call the next unamed version, Bango?

personally I have had a Nexus One since May and have been happily getting updates {currently on GB 2.3.6), the no support for Ice Cream Sammich with the Nexus One threw me for a loop I figured dev phone should get all updates. I should have known something was up when apps started appearing that were not compatible with my phone over the summer. I will have to investigate one of the alternate ROMs perhaps but I probably won't based on my past experience with ROMs on other platforms like Windows Mobile 5/6 it probably won't happen.

 

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