Nov 02 AT 6:51 PM Taylor Wimberly 32 Comments

Sprint: No OTA updates for Android phones

We have written extensively about the Sprint OTA issue and have been working tirelessly to get an official statement from Sprint. Both of their Android phones are shipping with the outdated Android 1.5 (no new Android Market) and many customers are curious when their devices will get updated and how the process will work.

After quite a few emails, I was able to get the following response from Sprint (Thank you!).

Thanks for your inquiry. We are currently working through the options with the manufacturing partners.

Well that answer was a little disappointing, but at least we got their attention and they are aware that this is an important issue to Android users.

After a little more digging, I was able to locate the chat log from a discussion with David Owens, VP of Consumer Marketing, who recently sat down to answer questions from customers.

Check out what he had to say about Android updates:

Chat logs from

Chat logs from

As you can see, Mr. Owens mentions the same size limitations we have talked about before and confirms the initial updates will be wired. I have been told that Sprint limits OTA updates to 10 MB because of legal reasons. The OTA update process for Sprint leaves the phone unusable, which would prevent a customer from dialing 911.

We are still waiting to hear of an official time frame for any Android updates and will update you when new information is available. It is rumored that Sprint will skip Android 1.6 and choose to focus on Android 2.0 instead. A developer from Samsung said Android 2.0 might not be available on the Moment until 2010, but let’s wait a little while and see if Sprint provides more details.

There is nothing wrong with providing wired updates (and I wish T-Mobile would offer this option), but we think it is in the communities best interest for Sprint to eventually provide OTA updates. This would ensure that all the non-techies receive the updates in a timely manner and prevent them from getting stuck with an outdated operating system.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • t’

    I think fair enough if they can’t offer OTA updates, but what they should do is SMS customers when an update comes out, that way they’ll know about it and be able to choose to upgrade or not.

    People only really get stuck on old versions of software because they don’t find out about the new stuff, an SMS directing the user to would solve that easily.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      That is actually a really good idea. I hope Sprint does something like this so people are at least aware than an update exist when one is available.

      I’ve come across a ton of Android owners in my daily life that have no clue their phone can receive updates. They just bought it was they thought it was cool.

      • Recless

        Sprint did this when WinMo 6.1 was available for my HTC Touch, so this practice shouldn’t be too new to them.

  • knowledge

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there will be a notification process for updates. How about this, will modded phones be able to receive these notifications? What other small conviences are modded phones going to be missing out on?

    • Daniel

      Notifications will most probably come from a preinstalled custom app, which could (generally speaking) be installed fairly easily on modded phones. Mod authors, though, often prefer to not include such apps, first to avoid any possible legal shitstorms, second because it’s not of much use to their users, since they usually prefer to stick to upgrades of the mod itself.

  • cowgrlcrzy

    I don’t get it. If TMo can due OTA updates on Android phones why cant Sprint? Wouldn’t TMo have the same legal issues as Sprint?

    • nul7

      You can’t access voice and data at the same time on a CDMA network.

  • maverick262

    You can do OTA updates on T-Mobile because their 3g network can handle both data access and phone calls simultaneously whereas Sprint’s CDMA network can’t handle both data and voice, its one or the other. Even with EV-DO Rev A, its still impossible with Sprint.

  • nom

    cowgrlcrzy: the reason in a nutshell, is that voice and data on a cdma network cannot be accessed simultaneously. this explains the line in the article – “The OTA update process for Sprint leaves the phone unusable, which would prevent a customer from dialing 911.” google “cdma simultaneous voice and data” if you’re that curious.

  • Skeet

    They do it with the Palm Pre cowgrlcrzy. How is that done?

  • carig

    this seems at least partly like a platform limitation, i’ve seen pictures of the palm pre upgrade notifications and it says something like “we’ll download this update over the next few days when your device is idle and inform you when it’s ready to install” so i guess that’s something webOS is able to do that android isn’t

    i wonder if it’s possibly because of internal memory constraints, could it be that it can’t download the full update without installing it at the same time?

    so then, what is verizon gonna do about this?

    • Anthony

      What they should do is put the update in the android market so u can find the update easier and no wires required

  • Dave

    Again, my only concern is that they make this wired update non-platform specific. I’m tired of having a Windows box around just so I can do updates for companies too lazy to provide a mac/linux capable upgrade.

  • Chad

    So to answera a question above the Palm Pre when doing its over the air updates provides a button to push to pause the update that way a call can be placed if needed.

  • t’

    Voice and data can’t happen at the same time on CDMA!? That’s insane, so if someone’s browsing the net on CDMA what happens to phone calls, do they just go straight to voicemail?

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  • richard

    “t’” no, web access and ota installation are not the same thing. i access the web all the time and get interrupted for phone calls.

  • dave

    Sprint can suck a dick.

    • Morty Havesham the 3rd of Martingale on Devon

      Nice dude… nice.

      • http://Website stirfry

        Yeah, actually they can. Have you been to the ONLY Sprint store in San Diego that can handle service issues on a Saturday morning? The wait is 2+ hours.

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  • http://Website john

    I have tried the Hero and Moment and couldnt receive calls while browsing on either of them. I dont have 3G in my area either. Is there a setting to have calls and texts override data?

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  • Dave “The Sequel”

    Dave my man, you are abso-damn-lutely correct!! And I say that having been with Sprint, lo these past 7 years. Compared with Verizon (customer for 7 years prior to that) they are great. However this obscene notion that you should have to have a $2000 computer and separate paid for web access or alternatively a $20,000 car in order to drive to Sprint in order to get a simple OS software update that should and could and MUST be provided OTA is as obscenely ridiculous idea as being “required” by a car company to buy a $200,000 ECM reading shop computer (OR) a $2,000,000 mechanic shop of your own in order to get anything fixed on your $20,000 car. In other words it’s a wildly insane notion as well as an insensitively presumptuous imposition on all their customers! It’s infuriating, who in their right mind is going to let them off the hook for their responsibilities regarding this? Who do they think they are to require (or ignorantly assume) that every last one of their Android customers will have a computer and separate access (I don’t) or a car to drive to Sprint (I do but WHY should I waste my gas and time)? There is a reason Palm provides OTA updates, and I am that reason! I had (and still have) a 700p. For a solid year I gave Palm and Sprint unrelenting miserable hell because of the lack of OTA. I emailed both repeatedly, called both repeatedly, got Sprint Tier One tech supervisors AND Palm Technical Supervisors on the phone simultaneously so that I could berate them both at the same time (for efficiencies sake). Well primarily I berated the Palm guys, since the Sprint guys agreed with me. The Palm guys generally didn’t (at first) till I gave them sufficient hell.I have a complaint file a mile long at Sprint, but I got results. Anyway, as a result of my complaints (and I’m sure a few from others as well) Palm now has OTA updates, at least on Web OS, tho they never did pull their head out of their hindquarters far enough to add that capability to the older OS. So I see now that I will have to start giving Sprint (and possibly Samsung) hell over this issue now with the Moment. Google is off the hook since they don’t get in the way of OTA updates.

    If Sprint is worried about 911 (I assure you I am not) then they can bloody well break the up the data into pieces and send it in shorter increments, or do it however Palm is doing it, or make the update user pausable if the user needs to call 911. Geez! This isn’t rocket science. We should NOT be expected to have a device that either costs 10x (a computer) or 100x (a car) in order to update a stupid phone!! It’s the bloody principle of the matter!! Sprint needs to “just make it happen (OTA updates)” or pack up and go home. They are going to anyway, even if they don’t know it yet, so why piss everybody off by delaying and talking down the inevitable? It makes no sense, they just need to grow a set and do WHATEVER it takes technically to make it happen. I’m GOING to be giving them hell untill they do. The hell will start this weekend, please join me folks–let’s make this happen. They can give us OTA on every Android phone, and give us version 2.0 or the new 2.1, and they can do it NOW! We know it and they know it, and the bloody phone had BETTER be stable afterwards! If the Droid can be stable, so can the Moment and Hero. It’s called “good programming”, they may need to Google that phrase if they are unfamiliar with it. Let’s all call and email and blog and etc etc till they give us what we want. What do you say folks?!

  • Dave “The Sequel”

    BTW, Taylor is there anyway that you can forward my previous letter to Sprint. Maybe to that guy who said that there would be no OTA only wired updates. Since I have no regular computer and Android doesn’t seem to support copy and paste (or at least doesn’t make it obvious how to do it) there is no way for me to send my comments to them directly. If you can do that I’d appreciate it. We’ll get OTA yet!

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  • Livtar Singh

    How can I update my HTC magic Android version from 1.5 to 2.0 ..