Sony: You might not really want Ice Cream Sandwich after all

Sony: You might not really want Ice Cream Sandwich after all

Summary: Sony is recommending that customers think twice before upgrading to ICS due to its harsh impact on hardware.

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TOPICS: Android, Google, Hardware
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Image credit: Sony

Image credit: Sony

I have not been hesitant to give Google a hard time over the abysmal Android update situation, and have noted that updates seem to be awfully hard for partners to roll out. Even Google has a hard time getting the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) update for its flagship phone, the Nexus S. In a recent blog post, Sony pointed out that due to the way ICS works some users might be better off sticking with Gingerbread.

The blog post by Sony points out the major differences between the older Gingerbread and the spiffy new ICS. It makes it clear that the pretty new version is not without cost in how it hits device hardware much harder than the older version.

Another interesting thing is that many apps use slightly more RAM in ICS. For example, the web browser is quite intensive, and our measurements indicate that it uses 20-30MB more in ICS compared to Gingerbread. All in all, there are a lot of changes that together result in greater RAM requirement.

Since the web browser is one of the most-used apps on a smartphone, that sounds like a heavy load on some hardware. Then there is is situation in ICS that increases app startup time according to Sony:

Another change in ICS compared to Gingerbread is that Google has moved a lot of the SQL handling from the native to the Java layer. In our internal studies, we have seen that read and write operations to the SQL database takes longer time, which slows down the apps. Many applications perform a lot of SQL operations when started, which greatly impacts the start-up time.

ICS enables hardware acceleration which sounds like a good thing, but may not be as far as Sony is concerned.

When we performed internal tests on our applications, we saw that the Settings app consumed 1-2MB more RAM, and actually took longer time to start with HW acceleration, compared to without. Once the app is running, the UI is HW accelerated, but unless the app performs advanced graphics, the user will not see the difference. Another effect of the hardware acceleration is that it can make the battery drain faster in some cases. An example of this is video playback, where the hardware acceleration requires every video frame to be run through the GPU, thus making the system use more power than it would have without HW acceleration.

The bottom line from Sony is that rather than rush into upgrading its smartphones to ICS when available, users should think twice about it. If your phone is running well with Gingerbread, that might be good enough given the harder hit ICS makes on the hardware.

[via PhoneArena]

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Topics: Android, Google, Hardware

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24 comments
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  • ICS runs fine on non-Sony hardware....

    I have a Galaxy S2, running perfectly fine - no lockups, no crashes, no unexplained pauses - with ICS. Perhaps Sony is finding that their devices are under-specced, or perhaps - more likely- they are wanting people to buy new devices?

    I've been stung too many times in the past by Sony's lack of support for their devices and restrictions imposed by their 'copyright protection' schemes to want to buy anything Sony ever again, so I'm unlikely to have the sorts of problems Sony id talking about for users of their brand of Android devices.
    SteveCarr
    • Agreed

      Sony is a non-starter with me since their DRM debacle, and I wouldn't trust them to walk my dog. I have a 2 year old HTC (600mhz) Aria that flies on ICS. Maybe the Sony hardware is just plain junk?
      cHarley1200
      • Drop the DRM moan asap.

        Who cares apart from you? I dont give a monkeys about their past bad judgement and can't believe anyone with over two brain cells would use that as an argument to stop progress. Drop the 'I'm violated' and look at the current products then get back to us. I'm wasting time here now that you've irritated me, when I should be finding results about Android ICS and the future. I love Sony products and I love some Apple hardware. I might hate the ethos of both but it aint gonna stop me buying quality hardware if it's the right solution at the time.
        pjmckay
    • dude relax

      You need better logic.. They're giving an honest statement and you are still bashing them..

      Would you rather them lie and say it works the best on their hardware, getting their consumers hopes up, and then having them be disappointed when they learned it slowed their phones down after the software upgrade??
      TechGuyChris
      • ICS on Sensation

        I have the official htc Sensation upgrade to ICS and the machine runs smoother than under Gingerbread.

        I'm not sure where Sony are coming from, that ICS causes performance problems.

        Some apps might use more memory, I don't know, I've never checked, because I've never had problems.
        wright_is
    • Same leopard, different spots

      Google are suffering the same problem MS did. In trying to corner the mobile market (like MS did with the desktop market) they feel obliged to continually add more and more technology into the core OS or its immediate layers. Instead of keeping the OS refined like the way Linux does, Google add more and more crap to support their services which bloats, slows down and destabalises the OS.
      Can't wait for Linux to return to handsets in a big way, until then iOS looks to be the best OS for handsets/tablets.
      global.philosopher
      • Linux is not so different

        I have used Linux since Slackware since 1997 and other versions lately (Redhat, SuSE, Debian, Ubuntu, Mint) and I can say that Linux has increased vastly in size and complexity in that time. I used to run Slack on a Cyrix 66 MHz 486 clone with 16 MB ram - and play video at 640x480. You can't run any distro on that hardware today.

        That said, you can still do more with less on Linux. However, I don't think Linux will be the answer to any smartphone problems. Android is Linux, and the the two are coming back together again as we write.

        4.0 provides some benefits, but has some wrinkles that need ironing out. Time and Markets will decide.
        dimonic
      • I wouldn't expect to run any modern OS on nearly 20 year old hardware.

        The 486 was defunct after NT4 SP3, iirc, and that's if you had a PCI-based motherboard could afford the 64MB of RAM to properly run NT4 on that hardware. Current distros of Linux do run pretty well on older hardware, however, as long as you have a proper video card in that rig (true DX8 or DX9 compatible stuff).
        Champ_Kind
  • You know what Sony is really saying?

    What Sony is really saying is, "Ericson Facked Us Over Hard With Questionable Quality Phones And, We Would Rather Discourage You Then Tell You, That You Bought One!"

    I had an Xperia Play for all of 3 days, the phone had no memory and even worse reception! I so wanted that phone to be cool but even at 3G the battery sucked!
    slickjim
    • You're right on memory

      But I haven't had a problem with reception. Besides, an SD card takes care of most of the storage problems.

      The bigger problem with the Play is there STILL isn't a Playstation Suite app. As it is, it's pretty much relegated to only being useful for emulators.
      Aerowind
  • Really?

    ICS made my Motorola Xoom a speedier and more reliable device. Perhaps Sony has some quality or implementation issues?
    ajrmd
    • At least you guys got a choice.

      I'm glad ICS worked for you guys, I got an Acer Iconia A500, that was promised to be one of the first with ICS last Year. If you think Sony has issues, I'mstill waiting for ICS on a Tablet that Is only 5 months old. They've come out with three newer Models that got ICS, I tell you it's Put me off Both Acer and Android.
      You know, these things are quite expensive to Buy and when your basicall told B!llShite, I'm waitng for Wondows 8 on A tablet. I'll start saving now, because they are going to be expensive, but at least you get what you pay for, I have a feeling Acerwill release 2 more newer models and then shaft the A500 owners altogether. Their 501 model owners just got told that ICS will drop for them May- June, Honestly whats the point, Jellybean will be out on Asus by then. It really is a case of Buyer beware and do your Homework before you buy anything Nowadays. Android Os is pretty much Obsolete once you take it out of your Shinny new Box, keep the Box, you got more chance of getting that upgraded. Oh and why would I risk rooting it whilst it's still under warrentee for another six months. Imo , Sony will end up in the same boat as Acer. Slowly sinking because they won't listen to their customers, you know, Us, the people that pay good money for your products. Rants over, sorry but all these Tech companies piss me off at the Moment, because the customer is 2nd , always.
      kiwicasperguy
  • ICS Upgrade Breaks HTC Vivid Voice Dialer

    The built-in voice dialer feature that I used for hands-free dialing with my HTC Vivid and my car's bluetooth no longer works after I upgraded to Android 4.0.3 recently. AT&T and HTC both blame Google for this omission.

    Android 4 does take a little longer to open from a restarr, but I think it's more obvious becauase of the "application upgrade" screen that counts off your applications.

    As for RAM, my observation is that my Vivid seems to have more RAM even when a bunch of unwanted apps are loaded. I'm not dropping below 100 MB now like I sometimes did in the past.
    brucegil@...
  • idk about this

    it doesnt make sense for the newer versions to be worse... but this wouldnt be the first time someone did something like this. I think ill stick with my EVO for a while longer.
    Jimster480
  • upgrade dissappointments

    Can you say "Windows Vista"?
    Johnny Bill
    • Gatorade me b**ch

      Woah, why so much hate on the Vista comment? Its not like anyone really misses Vista

      -Bill Gates
      Fat Albert 1
  • Tired of Android

    Am I the only one disillusioned and tired with Android?

    It honestly seems like the most buggy and problematic OS which has ever rolled off the line. I've only had about three years experience with it, but I've come to expect problems of unforeseeable variety.

    No, I haven't gone to ICS yet, and perhaps I shouldn't. My phone is operating at about 70% of what I think it should, and with an OS update it might not even be up to that level.
    camcost@...
    • I'm not tired

      Having just acquired an IPhone 4S for development work, I have to say I like Androids interface better and the ability to easily reach what you want. Yes Android has issues because vendors are not doing their development properly, but that is the fault of the hardware vendor, not the fault of the OS.

      Find the right vendor and you won't have the problems.
      fldbryan@...
  • Does seem odd... whose fault is it really?

    Whose fault is it really?

    I'm an Android fan, but given that Android IS so often skinned/enhanced by manufacturers, and inherently is applied on many kinds of hardware, you would think there would be more of a layered approach:
    - OS/Skin (this layer does exist, easy to apply your own launcher like ADW)
    - Core Android OS
    - Drivers for different types of hardware to tie the OS to the hardware (Google would provide specific requirements for compatibility/OS/system call requirements)

    If this is the case, then the issue is with the hardware manufacturers and not with Google.
    If this is not the case, and manufacturers are having to dive more deeply into the code to actually edit code rather than add drivers and add installed enhancements, then this is Google's fault.

    I would think simply having a modular approach to the above would result in less "fragmentation", because
    - the core Android OS would be the same, device to device (for like versions)
    - the specific issues would be on the manufacturers - hardware or driver issues specific to the device.
    - Skins or installed extras won't affect any apps desired to download/install.

    So the real question is - whose fault is it really?
    I'm leaning towards thinking these delays and red tape are much more tied to the individual manufacturers, in their desire for control and making modifications that go deeper than the above list.
    That's not Google's fault... although they could implement a policy to prevent changes to the core code - denying Market access to those who do, for example. This would be justifiable under the very concern of fragmentation - that custom "versions" of Android break the apps that the Market delivers, and could be part of Google's approval process.

    I'd love to see that happen.
    geolemon
  • ICS

    I have had nothing but success with ICS. I have 4.04 on a Motorola Xoom. Did the most recent version upgrade over the air in 5 minutes. I also use the beta version of Chrome. Couple of problems, but nothing significant.
    bobinbc