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Why I’ll Always Think Twice About Buying an Android Phone

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I’m going to throw out the usual disclaimer that usually comes with a post like this. By no means am I an Android hater.

In fact, I really like Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. I also own a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, although I’m sure I’ll still be accused of being on Apple’s payroll, let’s dig into something that bothers me immensely about the platform, something that will always make me think twice about buying an Android device.

A couple of days ago, a Motorola executive talked about the process of getting its devices updated with Google’s latest operating system, which of course is Android 4.0. She talked about how the process is both difficult and slow for phones not called Nexus.

Why I'll Always Think Twice About Buying an Android PhoneIt’s now clear that this person was covering for the company’s misfire yesterday which included posting up Android 4.0 timelines for a few of its devices. The soonest anyone is going to see ICS according to the time table?

The second quarter of this year.

Other devices like the Photon 4G and Motorola’s Xyboard tablets won’t see the update arrive until Q3. And what’s worse, flagship phones like the Droid 4, Droid Bionic, and Droid RAZR MAXX didn’t even have a release window included on the time line meaning owners have absolutely no idea what to think.

It was a frustrating sight to say the least and unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon one.

It happens time and time again. Google announces a major Android update, manufacturers take months and months to update their phones, even the high-end devices that can clearly handle the software.

Again, I understand the difficulties involved but you would think, after all of these years, that someone would have figured it out by now. Wasn’t Android 4.0 supposed to help solve the fragmentation problem not make it worse?

And that’s only half of it.

Earlier today, we learned that Google might announce Android 5.0 Jelly Bean at Google I/O in June. It might even get released in Q2.Awesome, except for the fact that Android 4.0 currently is available on about 1% of all Android devices out there.

If I owned an Android device running Android Gingerbread, I wouldn’t want to hear about the next update until my phone was updated. And it has become clear that many phones will likely be updated after June comes and goes.

The release cycle is just a complete and utter mess and it’s why I’ll likely never buy a phone not called Nexus.

And it’s also why, when out looking for a new device, I’ll always in the back of my head, be thinking about whether or not a phone will be getting a timely upgrade or if I’ll be sitting in my chair after I buy it, watching Google announce a new operating system before the current one ends up on my phone.

Yes, I realize that one of the awesome parts about Android is that I can root my phone and snag custom ROMs, Android 4.0 ROMs at that. But I shouldn’t have to do that if I don’t want to.

Something to think about when you go out looking for your next device.

10 Comments

  1. Michael Anderson

    02/16/2012 at 10:20 am

    Are you on Apple’s payroll or something?

    … reads article …

    Totally agree – something I wrote about yesterday myself.  I have a brand new Droid 4, and while I know you should never buy a device with the expectation of an update, their timeline (or lack of one) is simply absurd.

    I grabbed the Droid 4 to replace my aging Droid Pro (which in turn replaced my original Droid).  I simply won’t go without a physical keyboard – I have tried other devices and my usage plummets when dealing with a virtual keyboard.

    But that doesn’t make me happy that Google will be lucky to have 25% of phones on ICS by year end at the roll-out rate …

  2. Marcus Nho

    02/16/2012 at 11:07 am

    Agree with you on 5.0 release!! I’m guessing it’s probably a major update to ICS labeled as 5.0???
    I’ve been looking around for next phone and already decided that it will be Android. But it’s so frustrating that there aren’t that many ICS phones available. Understand LTE is released and they want to steer consumers to buy new phones. But if Google start to replicate Apple and tell consumers what to do and take control away from consumers then Google will lose its audience. People will just shift back to Apple. It’s whole lot easier for any one to deal with one phone and one OS. Make it Simple Google!!!

    • Neša Trebješanin

      03/03/2012 at 8:27 am

      Google is not one to blame, manufacturers put bloatware on stock Android and this slows down process of updateing….

  3. Ianmccully

    02/16/2012 at 3:51 pm

    yes and this is the sole reason this year , i made sure i got the samsung galaxy nexus , as all the engineers have one of these too, so hence the reason they will get the update first thanks , i had the htc hero before that is how I left htc thanks 

  4. Neel

    02/16/2012 at 7:08 pm

    Article should have been named…
    “Why I’llAlwaysThink Twice About Buying NonNexusAndroidPhone”
    And welcome to the Nexus fan club!
    -posted using my NexusOne.

  5. M@rc

    02/17/2012 at 7:24 am

    I’m not really awaiting Android 4.0, because I own a Galaxy S2 and from what I can see I already have most of the new functionality with Samsung own interface. 

  6. kEiThZ

    02/21/2012 at 9:25 pm

    Actually, this is good.

    The more customers pick Nexus phones, the faster OEMs will learn that users value upgrades.

  7. Rex_D

    02/22/2012 at 12:18 am

    When you buy a computer you don’t get every new version of Windows when it comes out, why do you expect phones to be different.  Who care if the Nexus gets updated?  They release a new Nexus phone that is better than the Nexus you bought last year, so you still have something to be pissed about.  When you learn to just enjoy your phone for what it is and realize the consumer will NEVER be ahead in the game, you will quit being stressed about crap like when your phone will be updated.  Don’t believe the HYPE people… 

  8. mr_lu

    03/23/2012 at 8:02 pm

    i could not agree more. i used to own SGS I and then SGS II, both of which i rooted and flashed with various kernels. i used to be a big android fan – but i m getting really tired.
    i m now thinking abt buying tablet, and i even dont consider buying an android device, for two reasons. first is content and design. but more important, Android is such a mess. every chef would never dare to serve the guests half-baked food, and then say, “Sorry, it STILL needs LITTLE BIT more time in an oven.” but that is EXACTLY what Google does since beginning of Android. few years ago, they realised the raise of the mobile machines, and in order for their lucrative search business not to be at mercy of MS or Apple, they threw in Android to make sure that it will be them who will own the playfield for the advertising game.
    sometimes at that time Google has changed. Apple can be rightly criticised for various features, but at least, what they offer to customers is simple deal, “You will accept the limitations and our business model – and in exchange, we will provide you with a perfect and seamless solution.” While google goes like, “Shut up and suffer silently while you keep clicking on those ad banners. We know best what is best for you, and actually, WE DO NOT CARE A SHIT.”

    This is my feeling, and since purchase decision are powered not only by rational arguments but ALSO by emotions, it is clear why my tablet will not be Android machine, regardless of specs soem future machine will come with.

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