Why is my Android Phone not getting an Update?

Why is my Android Phone not getting an Update?

This is a question that I find is being asked all the time by Android users. I’m in a position working in the telecoms industry where I get asked this about 20 times a day. It’s something that I have become fairly blase about. The honest truth is that I don’t have all the answers (shh.. don’t tell anyone)!


I do however have some personal views on this and I will go into these during the course of this article. First though, I want to state that these are my own personal views and are open for interpretation. I will be highlighting three reasons as to why I feel the industry is behind the curve releasing updates. I’m also aware that there are indeed exceptions to the rules and that some manufacturers are very good on this front.

1- Incompatibility of Apps

This is a biggy and I think this is one of the reasons that manufacturers do lag behind Google. As we know Android is a very much Open OS and getting an App onto the Play Store doesn’t require any accreditation process. Whilst this system does have some fairly major plus points it also has one big negative. There are lots of Apps out there which will just not work with the most recent iteration of Android – they weren’t built to do so. A prime example of this is BBC iPlayer which does not work on anything above 2.3 which, quite frankly, is a shambles. The manufacturers are aware of this and they do not want their customers having a poor experience due to App incompatibility.

2- Hardware limitations

This one is a little less clear cut than the title itself suggests. You’d think that if a device isn’t running the latest hardware then it probably won’t run the latest software. While this is indeed the official stance from Google, we all know that it is not entirely accurate. If it’s possible to run Gingerbread on a G1 then you can run ICS on GTab 7 surely. We’ve seen lots of unofficial ICS ROMs for handsets that don’t have official ROMs or are billed as supporting Android 4.0.

But why would the manufacturers want to do that when they can make another device and sell it on the software compatibility with slightly tweaked hardware? At the end of the day these companies are in business to make money and that is how they do it. It does however leave a slightly sour taste in your mouth.

3-User Experience

I know that some of you will have read the above text and thought “Wait, surely the UX would be terrible on old hardware”.

If you did then you have answered your own question because you are right, it would be a worse experience. Anyone who has owned an iPhone 3Gs can attest to this. So, believe it or not, one of the reasons that a manufacturer will not offer an update is to keep your expectations of the device and its useabilty up to standard.

So, I ask you next time you get annoyed about the phone you have not being eligible for an update – think about the above reasons first before you go and have a moan at Johnny mobile in Anynetwork R Us.

Thank you reading and as usual any comments are welcome.

HTC One X and One S on T-Mobile from Thursday
Win tickets to see Labrinth
  • Phil

    I agree totally.
    When I see/hear people moaning about not getting updates, I always ask them what, exactly, they want/need in the latest version. Very rarely can anyone actually say anything other than “it’s the latest one”.
    Having seen many servers/equipment die over the years just to be able to say it’s running the latest controller firmware for example, I’m very much in the “if it ain’t broke and there’s not a major security reason for upgrading, leave it running” camp these days.

  • Its really as i feel. i am facing same problem like you said. Its really annoying as i bought costly things and have to compromise.  

  • I agree, what puzzles me somewhat is why the manufacturers insist on releasing a top of the range handset without the latest incantations.  A good example is the Sony Xperia S, by all accounts a stunning handset but still running Gingerbread.  I appreciate that it takes time to get the newest software running with the latest hardware but surely you would delay the launch in order to release a product that truly is top of the range??

    Incidentally, I have Iplayer running on ICS with no issues!! 

  • Marcus

    The argument that these companies are in this to make money and that this is why they don’t upgrade software in old models preferring to release new devices instead is based on false assumptions.
    If the aim is to persuade new android buyers to get the latest and greatest handset instead of saving a few quid for yesterdays model then it holds some weight but we are now at the stage where may are looking to upgrade to their second or even third android device after their contracts have expired. If I have had a good experience with a headset that has been supported in a timely manner with security and feature updates then am I not more inclined to upgrade to a handset from the same manufacturer?
    Personally I feel that HTC need to prove quite a bit to me if they are to get my business back after leaving the Hero out to dry.

  • Patch

    Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is only installed on 2.9% of all Android devices, according to a recent Android distribution chart from Google