Android Upgrades: Who To Trust

Let me start with a little story. I once was the proud owner of an Xperia X10. It was brilliant, had a bloody fast processor, a good camera and quite a big screen. The best thing was, of course, it was running Android. But its manufacturer, Sony Ericsson, delivered the phone with Android 1.6 while 2.1 was already released. You didn’t notice at first glance, but a lot of nice applications were only developed for Google’s newest mobile platform. My Xperia didn’t play nicely with them. Sony Ericsson kept promising, repeatedly, to upgrade their flagship device to Android 2.1; but the more they promised, the more they postoponed the update.

When the 2.1 update finally arrived, I had already sold my device and bought an HTC Desire. It was beautiful, and was rocking Froyo (2.2). I accidentally dropped it in the water, so I currently don’t own an Android device (apparently they still can’t swim). My next phone will be a Nexus series. At least they receive updates.

Keeping my experience in mind, JR Raphael from ComputerWorld has made a top 5 list of manufacturers who upgrade their devices the most frequently. It’s really interesting to read, especially if you’ve had the same experience with delayed updates as I had. Below are the results.

I’ll do a quick summary. HTC rocks. They do upgrade, and they do it fast (apart from the HTC Hero). Motorola is just behind HTC, while Samsung is well known for its never ending delays on its Galaxy S line. While Samsung may make great phones, most of them are still running Android 2.1

What about LG, Dell and Sony Ericsson? Well, let’s just say they fail miserably at updating. We must note that this graph only shows the phones that got updated to Froyo. Phones that were already running Froyo at their launch aren’t included.

Of course the past won’t tell us the future, but it does provide us with basic expectations. More details can be found at the source below.

Source: ComputerWorld

  • BuyNexus

    with all this upgrade stuff I think it becomes more and more apparent that users need to be buying “vanilla Android” thus a Nexus. If 10 million Nexus’ were sold I’m sure Google would have more options for vanilla Android. . .

    • Ben

      Sorry, but until the Nexus series is released on multiple carriers, that’s not a viable option for a lot of people. I would gladly buy a Nexus branded phone if it came out on Verizon. Until then, I can’t.

      • Todd

        Damn Google for not selling a Verizon Nexus One. Wait a minute…

        Maybe you should think about getting off Verizon. How good can a company be if their contract includes a cause about kicking you off if you call and cuss at them.

        • Ben

          Maybe you should look at coverage maps. Is it my fault that Verizon is the only viable choice where I live?

          And I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve called to complain before and I haven’t been kicked off my contract. Less hyperbole, more facts, please.

    • So HTC rocks? because they are selling a vanilla Android? Your reply does not make any sense. HTC has its own UI and are doing a great job with updating their phones even if they are using Sense.

  • Lee

    This is good to see, but it still does not reflect the impact service providers can have on the upgrade cycle. For example, HTC had upgraded the Magic to 2.1 but it was only after a significant amount of lobbying that Rogers (in Canada) supplied the update. Basically, it’s not in the manufacturers or service provider’s interests to have consumers keep the same handset for a long period!

  • nikromatt

    Google could help the situation by requiring in return for the use of the Android OS the updating of all phones that are compatible with the latest issue of android and to do so within a set time frame.

    Manufacturers and service providers are getting this top of the line OS for free, they should at least keep the phones updated.

  • Johnny

    One should think about another thing:
    Maybe not all manufacturers have a good update policy.

    But it’s not always necessary to wait for an update.
    The hacking community does a great work with mods like Cyanogen that bring always the newest version of Android on the phones.

    But on devices like the Motorola Milestone, and a lot of the newer Moto products, that’s simply not possible, as they have a locked bootloader, that only runs signed ROMs.

    Concluded, it sometimes might be better to own a SonyEricsson or LG instead of a locked up phone of a manufacturer that seems to have a better updated policy.

    PS: I myself own a Moto Milestone and am still waiting for Froyo and have additionally no way to get a real custom ROM on it. I guess I will never get Gingerbread, in contrary to some much older devices.

  • It’s not as simple as which manufacturer. Motorola has done a decent job for the Droid line on Verizon, but has consistently dragged its feet on T-Mobile phones. I’m a Motorola Cliq owner on T-Mobile and, after waiting 9 months for a 2.1 upgrade I has expected “any day now” when I bought the phone, it turns out to be a crippled version of Android 2.1. I bet if the Cliq would’ve been on Verizon, Motorola wouldn’t have been so slow and closed about it.

  • Joshua G.

    I currently own an HTC Desire on U.S. Cellular, but unlike yours it is only running 2.1. I can’t seem to get any info on the update other than it was supposed to be at the end of last year. Anyone know anything about when the update might happen?

  • gadget__junkie

    Yep I waited n waited n waited for FROYO for my Australian Optus
    GalaxyS..I went and got the galaxy Tab with FroYO pre-installed
    Then upgraded my galaxyS to froyo.,
    Seems samsung is moving along in Aus.,the 2nd gen galaxyS in white
    With pre-installed froyo 2.2 and lags cleaned up..,
    I wait for ALL my devices Frm Android/iPhones anyways thanks to our
    lazy ass Aussie CARRiERS.,samsung released froyo them Optus had a quick play for 6MONTHS
    My HTC desire HD has not and will not for a while get any updates?!?

  • rev2redlineguy

    I wonder if the G2 will get Gingerbread?

  • 4G or Not To 4G

    These guys need to understand that in general people cannot afford to buy new phones every 6 months to a year and that the Android operating system is growing by leaps and bounds every 6 months to a year. With that said to keep customers happy and their phones relevant, these manufactures need to turn their customer UIs into an app that can be turned on and off, which will allow for an easier upgrade to the next version

  • oldtaku

    After the last bit about Samsung and T-Mobile working together to hold back upgrades, I gave up waiting and jailbroke my Vibrant last night. Was much easier than I thought.

    1) Root it
    2) Install Titanium backup, backup all the apps and settings
    3) Install Rom Manager
    4) Get a new ROM (I got Froyo + Ginger)
    5) Tell Rom Manager to burn the new ROM after backing up the old one.
    6) Boot into Froyo
    7) Use Titanium backup to restore apps and settings.

    Less than an hour work, most of it just waiting, and my Vibrant’s on 2.2+. So [email protected]#$ you Samsung, how hard could that have been for you?

  • bryan

    2 things play into this that I have not seen discussed.

    First thing is that HTC has always been a smartphone maufacturer while the other manufacturers have predominantly built regular dumbphones. Regular phone manufacturers are not used to updating software on phones. HTC as smartphone manufacturer is more used to providing updates for products.

    Secondly, high end models are likely to get updated while mid range and entry level phones are unlikely to get continued updates after release.
    Even though HTC was the best manufacture about updates, the Droid Eris on Verizon did not get a 2.2 update even though it is basically the same as the CDMA hero (that did get updated on Sprint). Both the Hero and the Eris were similar hardware and both capable of running 2.2 but the Hero was sold as a high end handset and received an upgrade, while the Droid Eris was sold as a lower end alternative to the Moto Doid on Verizon and was not updated to 2.2. There was also a low end motorola handset on verizon that never got updated.

    The only other thing about the time taken to update handsets to upgrade to 2.2 is that it does not take into account how long between the handset being released and google releasing 2.2.
    Some handsets, like the Droid X for example, were released running 2.1 after 2.2 was released. The Droid x was upgraded quickly but a handset like the original Droid that was released months before 2.2 was available would have a much longer delay, even if it was upgraded quickly after 2.2 becoming available.

  • Bryce

    Dear Samsung,
    I love my Epic, but I don’t see why I should be buying your phones in the future when you’ve shown that you aren’t dedicated to existing customers. The ONLY thing that could change my mind is if by some miracle, I get Gingerbread before HTC phones like the evo. So I can finally say “no, in your face”

    Wishing he had bought an evo

  • Motorola may be doing a great job in the US but in Europe the Milestone (the European Version of the Original first droid) still runs 2.1 while Droid owners are happy with their froyo update months ago. And Motorola goes on postponing the update without giving any explanations for the delay.

    • rawb

      janusz is right. bought my “flash ready” milestone over a year ago. still no froyo. currently looking forward to day 400 without receiving any update.

  • Riddlin

    How do you write articles for Android based phones and you dont even own one any longer? Tell your boss or your buddy to get you a new phone already!

  • usually they give only 2 updates after that….no far I find HTC to more updated compared to others. Notable is Samsung, I am really disappointed with Samsung i5700 Galaxy Spica, it came out with 1.6 and the newer releases were 2.1 after that they did not give any update…

  • I think you’re only taking US into account. In other parts of the world like Latin America the same update that’s available for US takes ages to be available there (sometimes it never goes).

  • kosh

    I own a Xperia x10 still running 1.6 …. 3 in australia is hopeless… anyone in here on 3 with x10 still stuck on 1.6?

  • Dualcore96

    Never go with LG, you’ll stuck, Now I know…Go with the Google phone, Nexus S, Samsung Nexus