Android U.S. System Updates -- Tale of the Tape

Android U.S. System Updates -- Tale of the Tape

Summary: The folks at ComputerWorld wanted to know which U.S. carriers did the best job at pushing out the Android 2.2 (Froyo) update to its customers, and determined which ones are best.


Smartphone updates are a concern for many folks these days, especially owners of Android phones. Google may get praise for pumping out Android updates at a rapid pace, but the fact is few owners of Android phones actually get them. The problem is the complicated process that each Android update must go through to get to your phone.

Google releases an update, such as version 2.2 (Froyo), and the OEMs take it to make it work on every Android handset they produce. Once they bless the update for a given phone, it then goes to the phone carrier to make it work for their particular model of the handset. The carrier gets its own apps working with the new OS version, and then get the OTA update ready to push out to the deserving masses. It's no wonder Android updates take so long to appear, but the sad fact is most Android handsets never get the update at all.

The folks at ComputerWorld wanted to know which U.S. carriers did the best job at pushing out the Froyo update to its customers, and analyzed all of the carriers. The resulting chart shows a clear picture of how likely you are to get your Android phone updated with each of the big four.

The chart shows that those wanting to make sure they get updates are better off with Verizon and Sprint, respectively. T-Mobile is a dismal third place and AT&T is the worst with none of its Android phones getting updated to Froyo in the last six months of 2010. That's a consistent approach for AT&T, but not in a good way.

The CompuWorld article details how they calculated these results, and also shows a similar update breakdown by OEM. HTC updated an impressive 50 percent of its handsets to Froyo last year, but other OEMs didn't do too well.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • A way to generate new sales

    What a dismal tactic of generating new sales by way of new phones, contract extensions, termination fees, etc.. All by not updating a phone and supporting it beyond its initial opening months.
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      That's why Google's customers (OEM's and carriers) like Android so much.

      ...and users think all this "openness" marketing is for their benefit.

      SonyEricsson has to be the worst, the X10 and X10 Mini Pro were updated to 2.1, you require a Windows PC with their software suite installed, it works for some carriers but not for others and Froyo is still "coming".
      • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

        @alsobannedfromzdnet Well, Sony pushed out the x10 and x10 mini pro 2.1 updates in November, but as always AT&T has still yet push out the update to their customers. There's another update coming out for those phones (supposedly) sometime this month that AT&T customers will STILL not see.
      • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


        It is, clearly. What you are seeing isn't a problem of "openness", but the identified problem with the infrastructure to support openness. This, obviously, will be improved, and Apple will still tell you what you can eat for breakfast, and how to hold the spoon. (And you'll say "thank you").
  • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

    HOW...very impressive research and follow-up, as usual for you James. Would be nice to see any research on "how much would you pay for a non-OEM/Carrier Android phone over one that is" kind of thing. Market folks push "we have to be different" to get sales vs. "...we (the OEM/Carrier) have the Best Phone and oh, BTW, you can either have it as Google releases and/or with our, so we think, really cool UI/etc..."

    I for one would pay extra for a current "BEST" like the Vibrant was last July yet with stock Google releases. They (OEM/Carriers) give either/or not both as in Vibrant vs Nexus S. Make one Nexus S (plus with what Vibrant has) and save all this fuss over upsetting folks.

    Maybe do a six month contract vs a two year contract, I am sure the monies would not be that different. I can think of various ways they could both make monies and keep folks from being so upset. Not counting all the staff expenses lost/spent on all this fuss, hidden costs they seem to over look.
  • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

    Hack the phone. Throw on Cyanogen Mod. Done. Don't know how to do it? Find someone who does.

    The world of custom ROM's is a million times better than waiting around for companies to get off their butt. These custom ROM's are done by people who care about Android phones and want them to be the best they can be. They are constantly working to give users the best experience possible. They aren't even getting paid. I'm running 2.2 on a Sprint HTC Hero with absolutely no crapware. The experience is night and day. I couldn't be happier. Open platform FTW!
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      Agreed. I'm running a Gingerbread-based vanilla ROM on my HTC HD2 (from nand, so no more WinMo) and have a faster, cleaner, smoother phone experience than anybody else in my social circle. My girlfriend's G1 is running the latest CM build and, while slower than she'd like, it's extended the working life span of her phone by at least a year.

      T-Mobile may be slow in pushing OEM/Carrier updates, but at least they provide solid equipment that can be rooted and improved upon with just a little digging and effort.
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

      @Stocklone <br><br>After two days using the stock Eclair on my Samsung Epic I quickly shifted over to Froyo and gained root access. Being a Linux person it was pretty easy for me to use the ADB shell and Heimdall, the Linux equivalent of Odin, but that wasn't enough.<br><br>I then switched over to the ext4 file system and the Quantum 2.7 rom. Performance is absolutely phenomenal scoring 1662 on Quadrant crushing the score of 925 with Eclair.<br><br>This is what Linux and open source people have been talking about for years. Give a high profile open source platform, add in people who enjoy modifying it and the possibilities are endless.
  • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

    I'm surprised that droid has any following at all, the os is clunky and as user friendly as an IRS form. My current sprint evo 4g is a a battery hog that locks up and buries basic functions under apps. It's novel if you feel like hacking your phone but to me, my phone is just a utility to get things done, I don't need or want to spend time programing my phone to work, I just want to do the 5 or fewer things I use it for.
    P.S. 4 hrs of regular phone/data use is not excessive and shouldn't kill the battery but alas, that is what droid does....
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      You do know that 'droid' is only a marketing slogan from Verizon, right? So your [b] HTC EVO 4G[/b] "locks up and buries basic functions under apps" even with Froyo 2.2? So the Sense UI with the pull down bar doesn't have all of the basic functions, or the multiple screens with widgets doesn't have these functions either? So you have to "dig" through apps to get to functions like "settings"? Can you please give us some examples of this? You do also know that the battery is part of the phone and not the operating system?
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      Wait, wait. You had to know the GIGANTIC ridiculously bright screen sucked power, right? EVERYONE said so for months before the phone was available. This is a PHYSICAL FUNCTION OF THE PHONE! Is has nothing to do with the OS, and Sprint had several other phones that used Android when the Evo was released. How can you possibly pin your problems on Android? No one ever claimed open software was a cure for being blind stupid and deaf.
  • What I see out of that chart

    Apparently 7 out of every 10 Android phones aren't getting any updates. Guess that is the cost of buying crapware.
  • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

    Really, AT&T is the worst carrier.
    John Titlow
  • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

    I am seriously not surprised about AT&T here. It's not even just with Android. It took them almost 9 months to roll out winmo 6.5 to it's customers after Microsoft gave it to them. When I got the x10 it was FILLED with crap I will never use and didn't want that AT&T threw on there. I would never use the AT&T navigator since google maps blows that away and it's free, but I couldn't remove the app. They lock it down hard. I ended up having to debrand the phone just so I could remove the AT&T presence from the device. I was much more pleased with it after I did it. I don't care that they load the apps on there, but at least let your customers remove them if they don't want them.
  • You have it all WRONG!

    It is the manufacturer's responsibility to roll out the updates through these respective carriers. The carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.,) doesn't initiate these updates. Google releases a new version of Android and the manufacturer (Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc., etc.,) then has to make sure it will work with their hardware and any UI they overlayed on top of the Android OS and THEN they let the carrier know they have an update ready to roll out. It is pointless and irresponsible to blame the carriers, you need to look at each individual manufacturer and let us know which manufacturer is releasing updates the quickest because you can bet the carriers are not holding up these releases.

    If you want updates quickly, buy a high-end phone with hardware fast enough to support these update and with as close to a "native" Android OS as possible - no crapware, no manufacturer UI's, etc., etc.,

    Blaming the phone carrier for not releasing Android updates quickly is like blaming the car dealer when the car they sell has a recall. It's the manufacturer!
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape

      @ocbizjournal I tend to agree. T-mobile is 3rd but also has the oldest Android phones on the market. I am just now retiring my G1, which only updates to 1.6 without using CM or other aftermarket OS. I'm sure this skews that data considerably.
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      I think you are probably right. If you click through to the ComputerWorld article you'll see that HTC was the runaway best at updating their devices, Motorola was 2nd by a long shot, and Samsung was a far distant 3rd. The rest of the manufacturers weren't worth mentioning.
      • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


        it is a combination of both manufacturer and carrier...

        HTC is clearly the best manufacturer for updating the OS on their phones, but AT&T uses HTC and still AT&T has 0% updated even on the HTC phones on their network...

        at the same time i wonder how many of these 'not updated' phones are owned by people who don't want the carrier crapware and did their own updates...
    • RE: Android U.S. System Updates - Tale of the Tape


      Are you half retarded or did you just go full retard? It's the carrier that makes the decision to roll out updates. Take notice how AT&T consistently rolls updates at a significantly slower pace than every other carrier out there. Dell Streak is an example of how the manufacturer has done their job of pushing out 2.2 for every one of their phones out there OTA, with the exception guessed it, AT&T carrier. I don't necessarily blame the time that they might take to strip down the stock OS to take off tethering, or to make sure that their OS is "safe" but be an honest company and be transparent about it. This is clearly a case of carrier responsibility.
  • The carrier is getting too much credit here

    AT&T is made to look dead last in this list, but we all know that they sell very few Android devices, and only one or two of those qualifies as "high end" enough to warrant OS updates.

    So if Sony Ericsson never develops an OS update for the Xperia X10, is it AT&T's fault for not offering one?