August 2, 2011 | by Tony Price
It seems like there are rumors, releases, and details every day about a new device from this manufacturer or that carrier. I know that I read more every day about the next “big phone,” or the greatest “super phone” yet. However, what I don’t see much of are headlines that show the current phones getting updated to the latest version of Android. It seems like the only way to get up-to-date on many devices is through a custom ROM.
As far as I can tell, there is only one option that doesn’t suffer from this problem. Google’s own development phones get the latest software before any other phone does. If I don’t want to wait for months for an update, then I have to get a Nexus phone. I know it seems strange, but I’m going to wait for the next Nexus device. There are several factors that lead me to this decision.
All my thoughts on fragmentation aside, this is a bad position for Google. When compared to the competition, Android updates are a total mess. With so many great pieces of hardware floating around, it baffles me as to why the manufacturers would leave some users behind the curve. I understand that they want to make money, but doing so at the expense of customer satisfaction is unreasonable.
I am using a Samsung Captivate. I bought it around the time it launched last summer, and I have loved every minute with it. My biggest complaint, like many other U.S. Galaxy S owners, is the incredibly long wait for updates. It took months for us to get an official Android 2.2 update, and we are still waiting for Gingerbread. In the mean time, we are now hearing about the upcoming launch of the Galaxy S II in the U.S.
This upsets me as a user. I hate that I have been a loyal user of this device for over a year, and I don’t feel like it’s gotten anything. When Samsung offers a new device as an alternative to a simple software update, I feel cheated. I don’t want to have to buy a new device, at full price, simply to be able to use the latest version of the operating system.
Before you tell me, I know that I can run a custom ROM. In fact, I am currently using CyanogenMod 7 Nightlies on my Captivate, and its really nice to have all the latest features. However, because its based on firmware for a different device, it almost never preforms as well in all tests as official updates. There are minor issues with the camera quality, as well as the battery life. All in all, it would be better if Samsung simply gave us the update so we could work with that.
What do I plan to do about this? For the time being, nothing. I am going to sit tight and use my phone until it breaks, or until my contract is up in March. My plan then is to get my hands on some AT&T supported version of whatever Nexus device is currently available. My hope, like many others, is to get an official developer device for Ice Cream Sandwich.I feel like getting that phone is the best course of action for many reasons. First of all, it guarantees that I will have the latest official firmware. Google is very good about getting those updates out to users while avoiding the carriers, which is good news for me. That also means that I won’t have to deal with carrier bloatware, because my updates won’t come from my carrier.
Secondly, I see a great amount of potential for cross-device integration with Ice Cream Sandwich. I like the idea of being able to start a game on my phone and finish it on an Android tablet or a Google TV. That sort of integration would change the landscape of Android. Combine that with Google’s love of cloud services, and you have a recipe for greatness.
All in all, I can’t see a reason not to wait for whatever is coming next from Google. I know we haven’t heard any firm details on a sequel to the Nexus S, but we know it is probably coming sometime this fall or winter. We also know that Ice Cream Sandwich is the next major version of Android, and that it’s probably coming very soon. I suppose the only kink in my plan is that AT&T may not carry the device directly.
No matter what happens, my plan will stay the same. If I have to buy it unlocked with AT&T bands, so be it. Hopefully, it will come equipped with GSM and LTE radios, meaning I can use it in the future. The prospect of always having the most up-to-date version of Android is too enticing to pass up.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Are you waiting for the next Nexus, or are you happy with the updates on your current phone? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.