I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I often find myself in that position. As we watched the Motorola Droid launch last month, many of our readers kept asking, “What is the Android 2.0 release date for first generation phones?”
Let me just cut to the chase. I believe several first generation phones will not receive an Android 2.0 update. I would love to be proven wrong on this one, but all the evidence I have gathered does not look good.
I also think it is not that big a deal that some phones might not get officially updated. The users who really want access to Android 2.0 features will most likely get them through hacking their phones. Other people will purchase a second generation Android phone when they are available in 2010.
The following is a list of reasons I’m not holding my breath for Android 2.0:
- Lack of hardware drivers from Qualcomm and others for the Android 2.0 kernel
- Limited internal storage space (system partition) of first gen phones
- Lack of comments from carriers and handset makers
- Google back porting their Maps Navigation for Android 1.6
- Handset makers releasing Android 1.x devices in 2010
All of the above arguements are facts. They could change at any moment, but I would not expect any new developments till next year. Don’t you think the carriers would be proudly promoting the fact their existing Android phones would soon be updated so customers don’t jump ship to get the Verizon Droid?
So what phones might get Android 2.0? Only two companies have stated 2.0 would come to existing handsets, but their messages came from Twitter and YouTube.
We would like to see some press releases from these companies, but this is all we have. I think we should also note that these messages came directly from the handset makers and not the carriers. We believe at the end of the day, it is the carrier who chooses to roll out an update.
This past week I hit up all the carriers and handset makers to see if they had updated their official position on Android 2.0
The following is a response from HTC when they were asked if the Verizon Droid Eris would receive Android 2.0. Note how they do not confirm 2.0 and they point the finger at the carrier.
“I understand that it is important you receive all the information about a device before purchasing it. Currently, our developers have to work with the carriers to determine when and if a ROM upgrade will be available for any of their branded models. Unfortunately, I do not have any information on if the DROID ERIS by HTC will receive the Éclair update, as it is dependant upon Verizon requesting it. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”
Here is a response we got from Motorola when asking if the T-Mobile Cliq would get 2.0. Note how they say the phone can receive updates (obviously), but do not confirm 2.0.
“In regards to CLIQ with MOTOBLUR, it can be upgraded over-the-air and will evolve to support how people’s needs change. However, we haven’t announced any updates at this time.
The Droid that was released with Verizon is 2.0. But at this moment we cannot confirm when an upgrade will be available for the Cliq. However the phone is ready to receive software upgrades to both the Google Android OS, and the Moto Blur interface, therefore upgrades are being planned, but we don’t have a release schedule, or confirmation up to which Android version it’s going to upgrade.”
Sprint just launched two Android phones and we are unsure of their update strategy. They have stated no OTA updates for major OS upgrades, but that could change in the future. The Sprint Hero just receive a minor update that was under the 10 MB limit for their OTA system.
“Thanks for your inquiry. We are currently working through the options with the manufacturing partners.”
This is the response we got from T-Mobile when asking about 2.0. They said they are working with Google to deliver Android 2.0, but did not mention any specific handsets when doing so. Also note how they point the finger at Motorola.
“T-Mobile is coordinating with Google to deliver Android 2.0. We will let you know when we have more details to share.
The CLIQ ships with Android 1.5 software. We have no announcements at this time regarding new Android software updates. For more information about future updates to CLIQ and MOTOBLUR, it would be best to contact Motorola PR.”
We sent the above response from HTC to Verizon to see if they would comment. This is the response I received from Verizon Wireless.
“The business discussions we have with our handset manufacturers regarding future software enhancements are considered proprietary. As background, there are a myriad of decisions that have to be made whenever we announce a new phone or a software enhancement to an existing device. Once all decisions are final, we distribute the information throughout the organization inclusive of any associated employee training and we announce it through various media outlets. At present, we don’t have additional information on the Droid Eris that we can share at this time. The Droid Eris is a great handset and at $99.99 is an exciting alternative to the more expensive Droid by Motorola. Both provide customers with the open platform of Android on the nation’s most reliable network.”
As you can see, no company wants to officially go on record when it comes to releasing Android 2.0 for first generation devices. Google dropped the Eclair source code a few weeks ago, but it cannot be ported to existing devices until the device drivers get updated. Clearly, there will have to be a lot of work between the chipset makers, handset makers, carriers, and Google for this issue to get sorted out.
It would be nice to get an official answer soon, even if that turns out to be no.
Think we are wrong or jumping to conclusions? Sound off in the comments as to why no one will give us a definite answer.