Should you care that your smartphone won’t always have the latest OS?

Over the course of a day, we heard “confirmation” that the current crop of Windows Phone 7 devices will and won’t get the upgrade to Windows Phone 8 “Apollo”, leaving us with more questions than answers. Yet another source suggested that these phones may get a Windows Phone 8-lite, akin to the Windows 7 Starter made for netbook computers. For me, this whole issue of whether or not a device will get an upgrade brings up a discussion worth having in the mobile community; namely, should we expect that our phones will always be kept current with the latest version of the mobile operating system?

Ready the torches and pitchforks, people, as I’m going with a resounding NO! When we purchase a device, we purchase it because after exhaustive research, we’ve found a device that fits our mobile needs. When a software maker such as Google announces a new version of the operating system, sure we may lust after some of the features. After all, Android beam and face unlock are cool, but should we expect that our devices, which are now 6+ months old, mind you, are entitled to the latest version of the OS and all of the features found therein?

Generally, when a new version of a desktop OS is released, the hardware requirements are generally enhanced, as you need more processing power to handle some of the basic features of the OS. Some computers simply can’t run Windows 7 or Mac OSX Lion. If they were allowed to do so, performance and user experience could suffer dramatically. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect the Samsung Behold II, or even the original Galaxy S phones to be upgraded to a full version of Android 4. They simply wouldn’t really be able to handle it. And, before you yell at me for referencing the Behold II, I actually saw one being used out in the wild today. They’re still out there!

I don’t think the average customer cares (or even knows) what version of Android/iOS/Windows Phone they’re running, as long as the device meets their expectation for what they want in a smartphone. When you made the decision to purchase a Galaxy S II or Lumia 900, you did so because these are sleek devices that do everything you need in a smartphone. Sure, the latest and greatest operating system could bring features you need/want to make your life just a little easier or get a little more juice out of your phone, but you ultimately bought it for what it could do today, and it will continue to do that even if it doesn’t get an upgrade.

Of course, that’s just one opinion. I want to hear what you think about upgrade entitlement. Sound off in the comments below.

  • Michael A. Volz

    I totally disagree. Feature phones may not be updated, but smart phones have to be supported at least for the full 2 years. It’s my portable communication system. It has to be. This is not the 1990’s anymore.

  • B Smith

    In this case, you should care that you get the upgrade.

    The reason is that this is no incremental upgrade. It’s a totally new OS, with a new app development environment.

    That means that people who bought Lumia Windows Phones will get left behind on a deserted platform. It’s pretty bad, as those Lumias were brand new phones and many people will be on 2-year contracts.

  • SCJaredJ

    I think you’re on the right track, but there is room for improvement here! When you buy a netbook with specs that are driven for portability and you know will limit your processing abilities, I think you understand that there are probably issues you will run into with updating its OS. When you shell out $1200 for a MacBook, you’d be a little pissed if you couldn’t upgrade to a new OS that comes out 3 months after your purchase.

    So yes, not all phones should expect updates. However, manufacturers should make that clear upfront instead of dangling the thought of an update in their marketing materials and press releases to avoid a drop in current sales when they know that they’re not going to update (ahem Samsung).

    Funny thing about the mobile vs desktop OS comparison: my six-year-old laptop is far more outdated spec wise in comparison to current computers than my less-than-a-year-old TMO myTouch Slide 4G. However, that laptop is completely compatible with Windows 7. That phone will never see a manufacturer’s build of ICS.

    • funny my phone is faster  than a 6 year old laptop

      • SCJaredJ

        epic. The 6-year-old laptop is used to write apps that work on your phone that’s faster! Honestly, the apps do run on your phone faster than they do in the emulator. But why buy a new computer??

  • I have to disagree with you on one point you made my friend. If you lock yourself into a featured “flagship” smartphone like the Lumia 900, you should get timely updates at least through the life of your 2-year contract agreement. For all the other lower level devices, updates can remain the same sporadic mess that it is now. To say that flagship phone’s shouldn’t be updated to the latest and greatest software, even if it can handle it is wrong — this is a mindset carriers inflict upon its customers. 

    Manufacturers don’t mind updating the phones as much, it’s the carriers who do, as they enjoy jamming you with a phone for two years with little to no support. Carriers are in it for selling phones, not updating them. This is why Apple wins, because they don’t allow carriers to dictate what they want, instead, Apple dictates what they want from the carrier.  

    •  I definitely agree with that. That’s one page Google could take from Apple’s book. Update all these phones with a standard ICS release, free of carrier skins, which people tend to hate anyway, bypassing the carrier completely.

  • Each OS release, and for that matter update, has bug fixes and security updates at some point you need those updates to make sure your system is not compromised with a simple exploit from an app.  If the new OS isn’t supported then you should probably be on different hardware.  I guess I am not arguing that you have to have the new OS but you should at the minimum be receiving updates/patches that the new OS is fixing for the other users. I feel that Apple has the right eco system for this pushing folks to the new OS, and basically supporting a phone for two years. Other manufactures/carriers are lacking in this area and could take note.

  • Deebrown921

    Yes I do care if I have the latest version of Android. I purchase my Nexus S 4G because I expected the OS (Gingerbread) to be updated as soon as Ice Cream Sandwich was released. However that didn’t happen and I’m just a bit disillusioned with Google because of it.

  • Deebrown921

    Yes I do care if I have the latest version of Android. I purchase my Nexus S 4G because I expected the OS (Gingerbread) to be updated as soon as Ice Cream Sandwich was released. However that didn’t happen and I’m just a bit disillusioned with Google because of it.

  • Anonymous

    If my hardware can handle it, I should expect updates from the manufacturer. My Droid 1 can run ICS, and runs it just fine, way faster than the original Froyo that came on it. It’s ludicrous that these companies prance around the subject so they can sell you their next android phone that comes out next month.
    OS updates are extremely important to me. It keeps my hardware fresh, adds compatibility to newer apps, and it usually brings some built in security updates and features. I like that Apple keeps their older hardware fairly up to date, I have no experience with any Nexus phones but from what I understand it’s the same deal as with the iPhone– Updates come from Google at the time of OS launch. 

    ROM teams can muster up stable builds of android that breathes new life into my android devices on a regular basis– IN THEIR SPARE TIME. These are geeks who have day jobs like you and me. It is inexcusable that manufacturers of android phones don’t keep their hardware up to date.

  • Linadlin

    I totally agree … I am still using my Window XP computer, and do not see the need to upgrade to Window 7 or 8. Primarily because all of my current apps are working flawlessly. I use to tinker alot but nowdays I just want my stuff to work with minimal effort. If the new OS has some new features that I want, then I will upgrade it … even if it means that I have to upgrade my hardware. 

  • Jacob

    What about those of us that just bought the Lumia 900? I think we’re entitled to at least one version number update. Plus, you have to remember that Windows Phone isn’t the same as Android. First generation devices where almost all updated to Mango, and I don’t see any reason that they couldn’t run at least a subset of Apollo. Second generation phones, and the Titan II and Lumia 900 (What I’ve been calling second and a half generation phones) deserve Apollo. Microsoft made a point of wanting to keep Windows Phoned updated, and while I wouldn’t complain if first generation handsets don’t get updated, they would be incredibly ignorant to deprecate the Lumia 900 six months after release, especially after making it their flagship device, and saying it’s the first “real” Windows Phone.

  • It’s nice you can upgrade os on the iphone, annoying you can’t get Siri on the 4

    • cause siri has high hardware requirements that the iphone 4 simply doesn’t meet it can’t handle siri plain and simple

  • Of course what you don’t mention is one of those features that you might consider when buying a phone is upgrades.

    But the whole “No Windows phones will get updates” controversy is laughable. Of course Lumia 900 will get an upgrade to Windows 8, and the chance that gen 1 windows phones won’t get the update are slim.

    The main argument for it is, “If it wasn’t true why hasn’t Microsoft denied it?” Well, because they’re microsoft and they kind of suck at those communications.

    A while back a comment was made which people thought implied Windows 8 would not support c# or .NET. And the community raged about it and microsoft said nothing for MONTHS and then finally gave confirmation that it would of course support c# and .NET.

    And to put it simply, the idea that Microsoft would drop them was so utterly ridiculous that of course it was false.

    Same here, of course the Lumia 900 will get upgraded to Windows Phone 8. The idea that it won’t is utterly ridiculous.

  • another fool defending medeocrity

  • Android users in particular (and possibly soon, Windows Phone users as well) should be furious that manufacturers only care about them as customers for a few months after they purchase the phone. Then they can give two shits about your satisfaction. Maybe I feel this way just because I’m a spoiled iPhone owner who gets software updates on a regular basis, but it’s only what is fair, especially considering the money spent on these devices.

  • Jimbo

    But once you start taking things like locked-in two and three year contracts on carriers into consideration, along with paying these same carriers, OEM manufacturers, and software companies high monthly fees for a variety of things and services, then well…

    I damn well *expect* my smartphone updates, and on the double too.

  • Marin

    Of course you should. The rules of the game have changed now and I believe that any new phone should almost be guaranteed to get at least one major update. I’d like two but that’s not always possible with hardware requirements. 
    The thing that bugs me about the Lumia 900 (and I liked it in the review) is that it is starting to smell like a rush job. They wanted something out as soon as possible, are throwing a ton of marketing dollars at it and will probably sell a lot. But if these users can’t get the next update in a scant six months, Nokia and MS are screwing the customers that it will need moving forward. People love Windows Phone (those few owners, I mean) and they will evangelize it if they’re treated right. 

  • I am not agree with you today we are living in a hi tech world.No one has much time and money to spend it again and again.The feature mobile do not have the facility but the smart phones have the facility of upgrading.So i think the phone should be updated with the latest and greatest software.

  • If I’m locked into a two-year contract, I damn well expect to get routine updates for my phone for the duration of said contract.

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