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becker
Dec 21, 2011

Why aren't smartphones updated regularly like PCs and Macs are?

PC and Mac users can expect to receive regular updates to their OS, but that certainly isn't the case with smartphones. In my experience, it is not uncommon for smartphones to NEVER be updated. I think it is the greatest drawback to Android smartphones, which I otherwise like. Out of curiosity I asked some of my coworkers with Android smartphones which version they were running, and a number of them were two and three generations behind. What is the reason for this? It would seem to be in everyone's benefit to have current generation software on all smartphones.

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wstark
12/23/2011

My cynical side says because most phone companies don't care enough to bother with it.  If an update doesn't work properly, they they are going to get a flood of calls from irate customers, and people arenlt very patient when their expensive smartphone is out of service.  However, that isn't the only thing.  There are downsides to sorta open source Android, in that there is so much possible customization in software and hardware, which complicates the update process.  There is so much difference in hardware from different manufacturers that a device that works well with Android 2.3 might be a brick with Android 4.0.  

 

With Apple, there isn't much excuse, other than addressing the differences in the different generations of iPhones.  The universe is much more closed compared to Android, and I think that is why Apple and carries are better at providing updates for iPhones than what Android users experience.     

jimlynch
12/21/2011
I think it depends on the smartphone. I own an iPhone 4 and it has been updated a number of times. I can't speak to the issue of Android phones, perhaps some of them aren't getting updates? I am just not sure. It may be the carrier that sells the phone that is the problem.

You raise a good point though, and it's definitely something for potential purchasers to consider. If a carrier isn't providing regular updates then it might be a good idea to get your phone from somebody else.

I will be upgrading to the iPhone 5 next year if it's out. So far Apple has done a pretty good job of keeping the iPhone updated regularly. I hope the Android phone carriers start doing something similar since it's quite reasonable to expect updates when you buy a phone.
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