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Motorola Droid Bionic Ice Cream Sandwich Update: Lessons Learned



The Motorola Droid Bionic Ice Cream Sandwich update, though promised in the early part of Q3 2012, still is not available to owners of Verizon’s first dual-core 4G LTE smartphone. Looking beyond the update itself though, the update process itself brought some valuable lessons to those who own an Android smartphone or are thinking about getting one.

First though, a bit of back story. The Motorola Droid Bionic was one of the most heralded devices of 2011 with its dual-core processor and 4G LTE. However, delays pushed it beyond its initial launch window and the device ended up launching in September 2011, just a few short weeks before the Droid RAZR announcement and a few short months before Ice Cream Sandwich rolled out.

Since September of 2011, the Droid Bionic has toiled on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which is a decent enough piece of software, but is no where near as good as Android 4.0.

Read: Droid Bionic Ice Cream Sandwich Update Gets Embarrassing News.

Unlike many phones, Droid Bionic owners deal with an encrypted bootloader which makes it difficult for average customers to install custom Android ROMs. Yes, early versions of Android 4.0 ICS are available to download but the process of installing is not easy.

Motorola was kind enough to tell owners that the Ice Cream Sandwich update would roll out in early Q3 but thus far, Droid Bionic owners are eating the dust of the Droid 4, HTC Rezound, Droid RAZR, and even the Kyocera Rise, a low-end device that launches August 19th with ICS on board.

So, while we wait for Motorola and Verizon to get their act together, I wanted to discuss what I’ve learned from this update and impart my thoughts onto not only Droid Bionic owners but Android owners in general.

Expect to Get Left Behind

When you buy a newly launched Android smartphone, don’t expect to be first to a new major update. That is, unless you buy Samsung’s flagship device. Currently, the Galaxy S III is slated to get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on August 29th, just a short time after the software rolled out.

This is rare.

Most phones are often leapfrogged by other, newer devices to Android updates.


The Droid Bionic has yet to get ICS.

Forget About Release Windows

Stop listening to companies when they talk about roll out windows for updates. It will get you nowhere. HTC and Verizon promised the HTC Rezound ICS update for June or July, It rolled out in August.

Motorola promised the Droid Bionic update for early Q3. We’re now in mid-August. This shows that these companies are willing to forsake these promised dates and not apologize for doing so.

Silence Isn’t Golden

Motorola and Verizon remain silent about the Droid Bionic Ice Cream Sandwich roll out. In fact, they’ve stayed mum on the subject ever since it was announced. This is typical.

While owners possess a zillion questions about the release date or the software itself, carriers and manufacturers will generally keep owners out of the loop.

Leaks Don’t Mean Anything

The Motorola Droid Bionic ICS update leaked out several times over the last few weeks. Often, this is treated as a sign that an update could close. It’s not a sign.

Things can still go wrong.

And they apparently did with the Droid Bionic update, though, it may not be the Droid Bionic that’s to blame here. The Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX ICS updates were bugged beyond belief and we’ve heard that Motorola and Verizon have been working to make sure that doesn’t happen with the Droid Bionic’s ICS update.

Don’t Expect Early Updates

The leaks started piling on early, a sign that Motorola and Verizon might actually release the update early in the release window. Nope, didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen for the Droid 4 either which was promised Q3 and saw its update roll out just a few short days ago.

If a carrier or manufacturer gives a quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) for a release window, expect the update to roll out either in the middle of that window, at the end of it, like in the case of the Droid RAZR or Droid RAZR MAXX, or completely miss it like the HTC Rezound or Droid Bionic.



  1. Alex

    08/16/2012 at 1:08 pm

    Am I frustrated at the delay? Absolutely. However, can you please write an article that provides new information instead of rehashing the same stuff over and over? We all know Apple is king and can do no wrong. In fact, they are so good that they are just now rolling out a 4G phone with a larger screen in a month and will likely claim to be innovators.

    • Olen

      08/16/2012 at 1:58 pm

      I too am frustrated with seeing the same info over and over about an update that never seems to be coming and I started to have the same reaction as you until I read the whole article and re-read the title. Then I was actually finding myself in TOTAL agreement with it! Those are in deed, very accurate lessons to be learned IMHO.

    • RC

      08/22/2012 at 11:06 pm

      They don’t care about that, they care about the fact that Bionic and ICS are a highly searched term so they write crap like this to get page hits.

  2. tony

    08/16/2012 at 1:18 pm

    This is what I learned to expect from Verizon and my Bionic.

    1.) To receive a bill on the scheduled release date. I have never been disappointed.

  3. !!!

    08/16/2012 at 2:15 pm

    My bionic just got the update i did a system update check for it and there its was waiting!!!!!! I take ot the otas must be coming out today in the mean time its ready to be manually pulled mine was!!

    • Olen

      08/16/2012 at 2:39 pm

      Are you sure it’s the 4.0 update and not a different one? My Bionic had an update waiting for it when I got it new but it wasn’t the ICS update.

    • Right

      08/16/2012 at 2:40 pm

      Please tell me you’re not pulling my leg!

    • ???

      08/16/2012 at 2:40 pm

      @ !!!
      You must be lying, or you don’t have a bionic.

    • Kevin

      08/20/2012 at 2:42 pm


    • RC

      08/22/2012 at 11:08 pm

      Bullshit, I check manually every day. Provide proof.

  4. jesterz

    08/16/2012 at 2:45 pm

    I understand the frustration and agree with some of the observations. Droid Bionic aside, please remember that a quarter of a year is a period of 3 months. If someone is going to do something at some time in a quarter of a year they get three months. Early 3rd quarter sounds like July and maybe it is… Point is don’t start complaining about something until the allotted time has elapsed. Case in point, the Droid 4 just got its update… in the 3rd quarter as Motorola designated. Same as the RAZR and MAXX in the 2nd quarter. Wait ’til October to start your rant. Geez…

  5. Brad

    08/16/2012 at 2:57 pm

    Motorola said “early” Q3. That would mean BEFORE the middle of Q3. We are now past the middle of Q3 so quit apologizing for a company who treats its consumers like idiots. In my calm moments I reflect that the phone works and does ok, although not nearly as well as the Iphone. It is only when Motorola continually LIES about the update that my ire rises.

  6. oren

    08/16/2012 at 3:07 pm

    It’s probably the .905 update you received. Verizon would have announced if ice cream was ready for bionic.

  7. Motorola sucks

    08/16/2012 at 3:10 pm

    When my contract is up I will go with a I-phone and motorola can take their POS phones and
    Shove them you know where. Everyone I know with I-phone has had zero or minimal problems.

    • RC

      08/22/2012 at 11:37 pm

      Please tell me, what is an I-phone?

  8. Robert

    08/16/2012 at 3:35 pm

    If I promised a deadline like they have and didn’t deliver like they haven’t I would be fired on the spot. So I think I’m not going with another Motorola device ever again ever thou I really like my bionic

  9. Paul

    08/16/2012 at 3:51 pm

    Its not the delay that gets me, its the lack of information being provided by both Motorola and by Verizon. I too have learned my lessons… I will not be purchasing another Motorola again !! Not much of an iphone supporter, but Samsung is looking awfully nice to me right about now.

    If it wasnt for the unstable data connection on the Bionic… Id be happy with the device. ICS was my last hope of getting that corrected.
    Galaxy S II is about to get Jelly Bean… and us Bionic owners cannot even get a data connection !

    Goodbye Moto… with this blunder, looks like your going to die a slow death just like Blackberry did. Wake up… all the other makers are passing you quickly.

    • Kevin

      08/20/2012 at 2:44 pm

      Meanwhile many buyers of the trainwreck known as Galaxy Nexus are fleeing from Samsung into the arms of Motorola.

  10. RIgeek401

    08/17/2012 at 7:04 am

    I am looking forward to ICS also, as I like it on my tablet.

    If you spend enough time in the Tech industry, you’ll find that slipped dates are as common as iPhone5 rumors. The key difference is communication.

    Press releases do not come the head of Product Development. Those leaked tidbits or outright lies come from people wearing suits who generally know the product in question uses electricity and if we’re lucky, they can both spell and pronounce the name of the product.

    Moving forward, I would expect any promises of ship dates for either hardware or software to be taken with a metric ton of salt. IF they learn from public dissatisfaction. they will forecast end of a given quarter. That way, if they deliver mid-quarter, they’re heroes, or at least., don’t suck.

    It will arrive when Verizon likes the code given to them by Motorola/Google. Not before will we be able enjoy the newest shiny software onto our now less than shiny object.

    There, enough ranting for the moment. Cheaper than buying blog space, and more productive than hanging out in bars.

    • william barber

      08/27/2012 at 3:22 pm

      You are a smart person. Patience is a lost form.

  11. Nick Riggs

    08/17/2012 at 7:23 am

    This experience with Motorola has convinced me of going Nexus only products in the future.

    • Kevin

      08/20/2012 at 2:47 pm

      After watching the disaster that is the Galaxy Nexus?? Really??

  12. anton

    08/17/2012 at 9:46 am

    Just fyi, i contacted Verizon last night. I was told that the ICS upgrade for bionic was not happening at all, until so many of us owners complained , they decided to go ahead with it. I was told to expect it in the first week of september. Dierct from Verizon.

    • Bob

      08/18/2012 at 12:50 pm

      Thats funny. All I ever get from VZ is that they do not have any information on that now. More broken promises and lies?

      • anton

        08/18/2012 at 3:00 pm

        Funny thing about big red is, all their conversations with customers are recorded. I’ve learned that this can be used as an advantage when they don’t deliver as promised.

  13. yup

    08/17/2012 at 10:44 am

    I imagine motorola and verizon are under the impression that slighting customers with superior hardware that should easily support the updated operating system is in some way a means to earn more money. They know there is limited choice in carrier, and count on an individual purchasing another phone (money in their pockets) because the current one is out-of-date and not receiving any updates to keep up with the newer phones. Never mind that the hardware coming out isnt all that spectacular compared to what the bionic already has.

    I would love to see the number of Bionic owners that have already stopped using the device in favor of the Razr that was announced so shortly after Bionics release, or have dumped the Bionic for other phones released by motorola or verizon.

    I imagine motorola and to a lesser extent verizon will just be bitten in the ass over androids lack of upgrades for existing phones. People will move towards hardware that will be actively updated for as many years as possible. That know their device won’t be neglected by the manufacturer. So to this I say screw you motorola and verizon. I’ll not be screwing with android phones unless the devices are kept up-to-date, and I most definitely will ignore motorola devices hence forth. I am far from a fan of apple, but it seems they are the best choice for reliability and long device life/support.

  14. @*$!#

    08/17/2012 at 11:54 am

    Whoever posted that they did an update and received may want to recheck that. I checked for a system update last night and “Your POS is currently updated” is all that was waiting for me. I’ve been putting off on an iPhone forever due to having faith in my Androids, but I think i’ve reached that point that if the iPhone comes out “on time” next month, I may make that move, contract or not. Think my Bionic is good for about 10 skips across a pond as hard as I want to throw this thing.

  15. Robert G

    08/17/2012 at 7:10 pm

    My lesson learned is to buy a phone based on current feature set so I can avoid being disappointed. I want to “hack” the phone, I will buy the flagship device and one with an unlocked bootloader.
    Currently, there is not much in ics that I am envious of. There are some interface changes that you can get in any launcher and maybe a few tweaks here and there. I have a stable phone and no crashes. Based on that parameter, I’m happy. I think they hype ics but what they don’t realize is that a lot of the features are already available after market. I do like the lock screen but I also know you can also get aftermarket too.
    Overall, I would like ics but I have a problem free phone….would have likes an unlocked bootloader instead.

  16. paul

    08/18/2012 at 5:57 pm

    Is it coincidental that verizon’s delay on ICS for the bionic comes just a short while after the elimination of the unlimited data plans? When the Bionic came out…. unlimited data was still an option. Verizon just may be counting on a lot of people dumping the less than a yr old bionic for a new device… just to get the ics we want…….and at the same time ..forcing us off the unlimited data that we have now till we upgrade.

  17. jeff

    08/18/2012 at 9:00 pm

    Verizon and google don’t care about the 3% of their customer base who scream and holler about updates. The other 97% keep quiet and just pay the bill.
    (For the record Motorola and I are parting company at next upgrade )

  18. Chris

    08/19/2012 at 5:47 pm

    I agree with jeff! Motorola and I are parting company at the next upgrade!!

  19. Chris

    08/19/2012 at 9:44 pm

    ….I had an old, grandfathered Alltel, unthrottled really unlimited data plan and there screwed me. They throttled my plan at THREE gigs. A tech support guy told me. I mention that every time I call tech support. I also mention that my 2 yr will cost almost 5 grand. I automatically get level 2 when I call. I also make sure to be polite and say that I love Verizon and don’t want to switch….but…..

  20. Dustin

    08/19/2012 at 11:01 pm

    To be technical, there was an update roster that once included the Bionic getting ICS in Q1 of this year… Yep

  21. Tom

    08/21/2012 at 3:38 am

    Just thinking of a phone exchange made me think,if I change now I get a free phone because we are within a year of purchase after September 8 we will have to pay a deductible. ics delays- no warranty from Verizon , if ics does not fix the data drops everyone will have to pay Again.

  22. dmit

    08/21/2012 at 6:00 am

    Bought the bionic on launch day excited to own a sweet new powerful phone. But what do I get a glitchy phone with connection problems. Which should of not been there due to the delay of the phone. And then they announce the gnex with ics like a week later wtf lol. Needless to say my bionic works great after a bunch of updates but I still don’t understand why they don’t release ics from what i remember they said the bionic will get its ics update a month after gnex release that Shit was a lie. And still waiting lol so what I learn is its time to move on to something else and windows phone 8 phones look promising so I think I might jump off android all together and start anew with microsofts window phones

  23. Bill

    08/22/2012 at 8:49 am

    it is simple. Verizon and Mototrola keep promising updates to keep us from switching to another carrier and phone.this update was promised first to be effective january 2012. we are being screwed with. i say bye bye Verizon and Motorola

  24. Jeff

    08/22/2012 at 10:24 pm

    I find it hilarious that “they” have decided Jellybean need be delivered to new devices when they haven’t even worked out many of the bugs of ICS after how long? I purchased my Bionic about 2 weeks after launch, then about 5-6 weeks later my mom purchased a Razr. She hates her Razr becuase of ICS, I hate her Razr because of ICS. She constantly looses contacts, quick contacts, texts, connection status, etc…My Bionic has rarely had these issues with Gingerbread. The only thing I can hope for is that “they” are doing whatever it is “they” need to do to make it less of a bug induced band aid for those of us who are getting impatient. I would much rather keep my phone in it’s well performing condition than to have it spaz out on me constantly. That being said, I too am growing impatient after the slap in the face of watching the Razr get pushed so fast out the doors after waiting patiently for the Bionics arrival and “they” have had ample time to work out any major bugs with ICS, yet suddenly Jellybean comes prancing in our faces. Much thanks from your loyal fans VZ and M

  25. chadrap

    08/24/2012 at 9:50 am

    I picked up my bionic last fall when they came out. I have honestly never had any of the problems that everybody is complaining about. Always had good data, 3g/4g toggle always smooth, no freezing, very few force closes only with one app. Ive never rooted, just kept with OTA updates. Really amazed with the phone, love voice to text, and use foxfi for tether on occasion, so no need to root there. Still running GB, everything works smooth and fast. I just thought I would share a positve experience among all the negative ones. I want ICS just like everybody else but honestly unless its going to work better than what I have then I am in no rush. Im going to wait until the end of the month and if theres still no ICS ota then I will probably root and go that route. I also think its BS how bionic owners have been shafted in many respects.. I have unlimited plan, not going to throw that away just to spite moto and verizon. Definately not a POS phone, I’d really like to see what else its capable of

  26. Ron

    08/27/2012 at 6:09 pm

    For whatever it’s worth they have at least responded to some queries via twitter about it. Not that they are saying much. They are saying it will happen Q3 and give the link to the page with the list of updates saying when they know more that page will get updated.

  27. Warren

    08/28/2012 at 6:59 pm

    Am I to understand that the Bionic STILL hasn’t gotten an OTA ICS update? I sold mine to some other poor individual a month ago and got a Galaxy S3. Best decision I ever made, as far as cell phones go. Maybe someday, Motorola will regain their integrity. I’ll bet I have Jellybean before Bionic owners have an OTA Bionic update.

  28. Terry Jones

    08/30/2012 at 1:19 pm

    I just heard from htc about ics update by tomorrow: they know situation is the best but they’re working on it. Yeah right, another promised date come & gone. Verizon’s jyst as bad. Samsung & metro’s looking better everyday. HTC for sure can stick their updates & their phones. Sell you
    their phones & service’s promise you the moon, then tough luck, you have a 2yr contract! Never again, ever

  29. Justin Hawks

    09/02/2012 at 8:41 am

    I had a Droid X, now a Bionic, and I am sad to say this, but I am DONE with Android. Next upgrade will be an iPhone. Apple is so much better about supporting legacy devices and customer care. These Android manufacturers don’t give a rip about your experience after the sale.

  30. Dick

    09/02/2012 at 4:13 pm

    Is there any way that Bionic owners like myself can band together and put pressure on Motorola to get off their butts and work on ICS for us? It can’t be that hard to get it ready. Signed, Last Owner of a Motorola.

  31. Franklin Pangborn

    09/03/2012 at 2:36 pm

    You idjits don’t know anything about software development. Nine women can’t make a baby in a month, no matter how much you wish it to be so.

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