The Illusion of Real Options

There's a distinct lack of options for smartphones that will have its software reliably kept up to date.

This is a real issue to me. I want my smartphones to get the latest OS when it's released. There are certainly those who couldn't care less about OS updates. I quite like knowing that things like the stuttering that is still painfully prevalent in Android up to and including ICS will get fixed as soon as JB is released and that the update will be pushed to my phone. I want proper background tasks to be available on my Windows Phone as soon as it's implemented into the OS regardless of whether I have a Lumia 900 or some as of yet unannounced WP8 device. I don't want to have to buy a new Iphone just to get the updates to the phone app or the new maps coming in IOS 6 or whatever little improvements will come in IOS 7. This is software and the beauty of software is that it can change your device completely and for the better without modifying the hardware one bit. We've been doing it, and are still doing it, on desktops and laptops for decades.

In the hopes of fulfilling this fantasy I got the Lumia 800 back in March but that turned out to be a dead end device, which I was thankfully able to return and get my money back for after the retailer had spent over a month trying, and failing, to fix a hardware fault in the unit.

Last week I ordered a Galaxy Nexus (I am told all the time, on the Internet, that this is what one should get if one wants OS updates) from Expansys, and having done my research I was well aware of how Google has outsourced the support of many devices to Samsung resulting in them not being updated, so I specifically asked Expansys which version of the phone they were selling and got the reply that they were proper Google phones with updates straight from Google. And then I asked again just to make sure and got the same reply. Today I received the phone which turned out to be a Samsung YAKJUXW phone and thus not what I ordered.

I'm returning it. There's no need to inform me of how supposedly simple it is to flash the correct firmware on the phone and solve the issue that way, I'm aware of it but that misses the point entirely. It would also probably void the warranty, a warranty that came in handy when my Lumia 800 kept freezing and rebooting randomly. The Galaxy Nexus is not an option if one expects it to receive updates, no questions asked, no hacking required, no muss, no fuss.

It strikes me that the only option available if a customer wants their brand new smartphone to stand a chance of being updated to the latest version of whatever OS it's running is Apple's Iphone. It's ironic that it's the platform maintained by a hardware company rather than one maintained by one of the software companies that is the best choice for getting the newest software on older hardware.

It's actually kind of bizarre.

Why isn't Microsoft making the next version of Windows Phone available on current hardware, even if they charge for the upgrade? Why isn't Google making sure that at least every current generation Nexus device is getting the latest version of Android?

It makes sense for Samsung to want to push customers towards buying a brand new phone from them, it would even make sense if Apple did it though Apple has an incentive to keep as many devices as possible viable for the store, but Microsoft and Google seem to have little to gain and much to lose.

I'd love to figure out why Apple is the only company to update their devices reliably but right now I guess the "why" doesn't matter so much. I need a new phone and my choices are unfortunately limited to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB Iphone 4S.