Nov 29 AT 2:03 PM Taylor Wimberly 42 Comments

Are carriers to blame for slow Android software updates? Sony Ericsson points finger at AT&T

If you are one of the 3 million Samsung Galaxy S owners waiting on Android 2.2, just be glad you didn’t go with a Sony Ericsson X10 phone on AT&T. That device shipped with the outdated Android 1.6 in August and it might not even get Android 2.1 till next year.

What is the reason for the hold up? In a wall post on Facebook, Sony Ericsson points the finger at AT&T and their “especially rigorous” testing process which can take several months to complete.

Sprint and HTC delivered the Android 2.2 update for the EVO just six weeks after it was released, so we know not all carriers are the cause for slow software support. Verizon and Motorola then updated the Droid to Android 2.2 right after Sprint did the EVO, so they also have Android updates figured out.

Out of all the national U.S. carriers, AT&T has done the worst job at supporting their Android devices after launch.

We have heard some rumors that AT&T would not be providing any Android 2.2 updates over the air and would go with a wired software update, but the company doesn’t have any phones with Android 2.2 yet so we are unable to confirm that. It looks like they will eventually update the Samsung Captivate, but we have no release date at this time.

At the end of the day I don’t know if we should place the full blame on the carriers, but they play a large role in the software support equation. Unless you have a hacked device and load custom ROMS, then the carrier if the main source of software updates in the U.S. market.

It doesn’t look like that situation is going to change anytime soon, so keep that in mind next time your AT&T contract comes up for renewal. Would you rather wait six weeks for your next software update or six months?

Sony Ericsson’s message to X10 customers on Facebook:


Many of you are aware that we are currently in the midst of rolling out a software update for the Xperia line of handsets. We’d like to take a moment to address your questions about how and why an update is made available.

One factor in determining a software update is when a country first received the handset. The Xperia X10 has been available in some countries since March 2010 and they are also the first to receive the update. The U.S. received the X10 in August 2010 and will receive the update after the initial countries.

The second and more impactful factor of the timeline addresses the technical requirements that must be met in order for an update to take place — no matter which country you live in. Unfortunately, we have no control of that timeline factor. Those requirements are provided to us and we work hard to meet and test them as quickly as we can. In the U.S., the testing process is especially rigorous, and can take months to complete, which is why we cannot announce the timing for availability of the X10 update in the U.S. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s that the timing is undefined until such testing is completed.

We hear and understand your frustration. We too want you to enjoy the most out of your Sony Ericsson products. We promise to keep you updated on where we are in the process moving forward as more information is ready to be made public. Please stay tuned to this Facebook tab!

Thank you,

Sony Ericsson USA

Via: Engadget

Source: Facebook

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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  • http://Website Fort

    Don’t forget about the Dell Streak on AT&T. For some Crazy reason you can purchase the Streak with 2.2 but If you have the Streak with 1.6 you still have to wait. AT&T more bar in More places, Drinking Bars.

    • http://Website Need A Phone

      Breaking News!

      AT&T and Blackberry has teamed up to evolve the smart phone…hahaha!

      This kills me every time I type it:-)

  • http://Website Adam

    Will be interesting to see if AT&T get their act together once they lose iPhone exclusivity. The Motorola Olympus is a good indication that they are already preparing.

  • SGB101

    its not just AT&T the experian 10 is still on 1.6 here in the UK on O2.

  • http://Website Cyberpyr8

    Google needs to step in at some point and put some pressure on the carriers and manufacturers to get their phones up to date. If they just let this continue to happen they are allowing the fragmentation to spread. No other mobile OS allows this to go on. They should start to remove apps and support for any devices that are more than two revisions behind the latest release.

    • anakin78z

      Isn’t winmo still selling 6.5 devices?

      • http://Website Daniel

        6.5 is the latest version of WinMo, though; WP7 is an entirely different beast. I don’t mean to sound pedantic, I’m just saying there are legitimate reasons for preferring WinMo over WP7 in the short term, it’s not really an upgrade. There’s zero compatibility in software, and some things aren’t even possible with this first release of WP7, for example multitasking.

        • http://Website Daniel

          That said, I believe there were a couple WM6 or 6.1 phones released months after 6.5 was out. I’m not sure, though, I’ve never paid much attention to WinMo.

    • http://Website roisto

      Well if you take a minute to think this through, Google isn’t really fragmenting the phones. Google creates the core android and gives it to companies such as Samsung or Sony Ericsson. The version from Google, was it 1.6 or 2.2 is ready. When Samsung or Ericsson get it however they want to “perfect it even further” or just want to stand out with their phone. So they integrate the Android for example with Touch Wiz 3.0 as Samsung did.

      So actually Google has no need or reason to “force” the other companies to keep their phones up to date. Google is allways up to date with nexus 1 and soon with Nexus S most likely.

      I think it has more ups than downs to be able to choose from slightly different experiences.

      • http://Website AnonGuy

        Google’s ridiculous release cycle causes fragmentation. The OS is not designed in such a way that features can simply be updated onto an existing OS. You have to upgrade the entire OS to get a new release. WP7, iOS, and now Symbian have all moved to a system where the device can be easily updated and in some cases major upgrades support devices 2+ years old.

        Android is the only major player right now that requires users to hack their phones up or buy a new phone twice a year to keep the latest version of the OS on their devices.

        That’s terrible, and it really hurts when you buy a phone expecting an update, because the manufacturer said the update was coming, and 6 months later you’re still a sitting duck wondering why you cannot access content on you device that you thought you could od without for a while, but that while morphed into an eternity.

        I’m gonna have to get rid of my Android phone in about 3 weeks or so if an update is not put out. Seriously, this is not acceptable. It has made me less productive than most any other smartphone I have owned – ever – because it (and the manufacturer) has failed so hard at delivering on their word/promise.

        • http://Website Tommy.S

          The Android can be upgraded over the network. You only need enough space from the NAND memory to download the system package. The OS in the android is the Linux (monolithic kernel, not a microkernel as you like to talk about it). Linux is designed to be a such that you can install multiple versions of it in the system and then choose wanted OS in the booting. Android follows exactly this way that you can just upgrade the Linux OS and then reboot the phone and you have new version of the Linux running.

          Android as well allows to upgrade single/multiple system files and you only need to reboot the phone to get upgraded parts in use (unless you reload them by stopping all running processes what are using them. That is not possible without rooting the phone and rebooting is easier anyways).

          XNU operating system in the iOS is Server-Client architechture.
          CE operating system in Windows Mobile/Phone 7 is as well Server-Client architechture.

          The Server-Client OS architecture means that OS has multiple parts, a small microkernel and then servers what have all rest of the OS functions (memory management, process management, I/O, networking etc). Every OS part can be updated separately from other servers or microkernel.

          Linux in the other hand has a monolithic architecture what is the first OS architecture ever (Server-Client is the second oldest and most used).
          The monolithic OS architecture biggest problem is that you can not upgrade the specific parts of the OS without compiling the whole OS again. In early ages the monolithic OS were single binaries as the memory and disk space needs were very small. But in the time the OS grown up so they started to take space even megabytes and RAM more than few hundred kilobytes.
          Then monolichit OS’s got the modular structure (not to be mistaken to the Server-Client architecture) where monolithic OS could have some of the OS parts (drivers mostly, but network protocols and filesystems can be as well) separated from the OS binary itself to own small binaries. The OS then itself loaded the modules when needed and unloaded when not needed. That allowed huge (few megabytes) OS’s to maintain small memory use and be a more stable and secure like the Server-Client architectured OS’s, while still being faster than Server-Client OS’s.

          The module in the monolithic OS is such that you need to everytime compile every module to specific OS version. That mean you can not take in Linux case a module from 2.6.29 release and use it in 2.6.31 release. You need to compile every module against the specific OS release what is in the use.

          The Server-Client architechture allows it servers being moved to other systems. As every server is as own program itself. It is not tied to microkernel version (if not needing specific API/ABI of specific microkernel version).
          But in monolithic OS (like Linux) the module is just a separated binary, but the attachement is always so tight to the rest of the OS image (where are all other OS functions and the tiny kernel functions as well inside it) that the separation is not at all different if the OS function would not be separated in the first place.

          Android use Linux (kernel) as it OS and you can easily update/upgrade it as you like. That is something what many rooted android images has, that you can even swap different OS images in the Android image to wanted. Many hackers tweak Linux by wanted options and then swap the vanilla version of the Linux in the official Android to own custom Linux image.

          Not even Symbian has yet the good upgrade options. As there is need to explain what Symbian version we are talking about. As the Symbian is the OS + littlebit something else. And earlier versions (before Symbian³) the Symbian did not get upgrades. The S60 software platform got sometimes upgrades and you really needed to buy a new phone to get them.
          The EKA2 microkernel in Symbian (Symbian is Server-Client architecture OS) would allow upgrading as well but Nokia never actually did it.

          Now Nokia has change it plans with Symbian³ so there is not coming a Symbian⁴ and the Symbian^X naming is dropped. So there is only a Symbian what includes the EKA2 microkernel, the rest of the symbian OS, system programs, system libraries, software platforms, the GUI and applications. The Symbian is no more a name for the OS but for the software system. And Nokia has told it starts in next year to serve 4-5 updates to existing Symbian (Symbian³) users. The GUI, Applications and everything else is still separated from the actuall OS as it has been today. And it is easy to upgrade them.

          Same thing is actually possible with Android, but you can easily upgrade Linux in the Android without techinical problems. The actual problems is with the manufacturers and carriers who do not want to upgrade their existing hardware line, but they want people to buy new phones.
          But right now most of the contracts are 24 month contracts, what means people are not bying a new phone like few years ago with one continues contract. So they can or need, to upgrade the software system for newer one. But they are not forced to horry as the customer is tied for 24-X months to them. If customers could brake the contract at any point wanted. Manufacturers and carriers would upgrade Android in very fast manner everytime the Android is upgraded.

          I made two official upgrades to my old Android phone. And all because my carrier made it happend. Still officials.

      • http://Website KittCarr

        This Samsung Galaxy S (ATA&T) being my first actual smart phone it has been a very undesirable experience. I believe the 2.2 release bottleneck to be with AT&T and be it Android Developers or Samsung -I would expect someone to be pushing AT&T along on the right track. A smart phone for me is a want, not a need. I will probably move back to a standard phone if I can’t get an update or a root update. At least it will save me some money not having to pay for a data plan.

        Developers of the Android platform: I am not able to install some of your apps, they just don’t work on 2.1 like they should. I won’t be able to buy any additional apps pretty soon.

  • anakin78z

    The timing may be at&t’s fault, but the fact that they’re talking about a 2.1 update in November of 2010 is entirely SE’s fault. The X10 launched in march, 4 months after 2.0 released. Sony Ericsson needs to get with the program. If we have home brew developers who can get out a full upgrade in just a few weeks on their own time, then SE has no business whining about difficulties of releasing 2.1 at this late date.

  • Andr3w

    I would definitely blame At&t. 2.2 for the Evo came in July when the Aria uses the same Sense and still doesn’t have 2.2. Wtf?

    Also, I’m like 75% sure Samsung is skipping Froyo on the US Galaxy S versions. Samsung isn’t THAT slow. They already have access to Gingerbread, so why not!

    • http://Website darcyli

      hopefully you are right
      but some of the european countries already got froyo on galaxy s
      would you think that gingerbread come to US/canada first? or those european countries?

      • monlosez

        European would get Gingerbread first then Froyo to USA. Eventually people would still complain.

  • http://Website Matthew

    Phone vendors should be going through any approval process BEFORE the Android release. It’s not like they don’t have access to the code before general release.

  • http://Website Mark

    Like I’ve always said, all this leaving updates business to carriers is complete bullsh*t. For most carriers, once you’ve signed your name on that line (albeit not reading the fine print), they’re done. That’s all they care about. You’ve signed your name and their monthly source of income is guaranteed. And you are stuck with something for two years that will either become obsolete in a matter of months or even weeks (especially with the fast pace of Android).

    This isn’t all too bad because considering a few years back, if you even wanted a new feature like say, bluetooth or navigational maps, you had to buy a WHOLE NEW PHONE or cancel your contract and pay a huge fee. Now these updates push the lives of phones even farther (the G1 is a glowing example) despite the snail like speed they come.

    Solution? Open up a section on the Google Android website where all carriers, manufacturers can upload updates specific for each skin or their phone so that users can simply point their browsers to the site and download it straight to their phones or download it on their PC, connect their phones to the PC and install it.

    With carrier updates, we will be bullsh*tted, lied to, toyed around with and generally f*cked just for a measly update. Not counting that they release them in updates and it sometimes takes days to months for the whole country to get them. Just my own two cents.

    • http://Website Mark

      Sorry, I meant in the last sentence “Not counting that they release them in batches…”

  • http://Website mike

    I doubt samsung will update their current phones to 2.3 they’ll just make evryone buy a new handset for newer software I think that will be a main selling point of the locked samsung equivalent to the nexus s. HTC Ftw but none of this really matters at all if you use cyanogen mod like me haha

    • http://Website Frag_effect

      Dude I have an Epic 4G running froyo from leaked builds. They are in the process of getting us super phone users (galaxy s) a legit froyo build.

  • http://Website Richard


    • http://Website jrizk07

      I have no idea what you’re talking about let alone yelling about. Droid 2.2 released in September. Evo 2.2 released in August. That’s right behind one another.

      The only phone guaranteed to receive 2.3 by end of year is going to be the N1 and new Nexus S. Chances for EVO getting 2.3 is going to be very slim. Sorry.

      • http://Website jrizk07

        *by end of year

      • http://Website Richard

        Your comment is a joke….The HTC EVO 4G will recieve the update right after the nexus one and nexus s that is definate…rest asure

  • McLovin

    Yup, just like the G-2′s notification LED and other glitches. I don’t see TMO rushing to fix anything. They’ve sold em and now are moving on to push the next phone.

  • http://Website baron9

    someone needs to slap some fucking sense into these carrier execs. how does someone make a decision like this (not updating OTA) and not stop to think, hmm i’m a fucking dumbass, my company should support the products we sell. pisses me off.
    also, why doesn’t SE just put their 2.2 online, email all their users(via the gmail your phone is tied to) and have users manually update.

  • http://Website Ben Johnson, GA

    Thats why we love our iPhones, we dont have to hassle with this! Blame it on you, you made a big mistake and bought it and now lets see if you can handle it…cant go wrong with the iPhone.


    • http://Website Richard

      Your Iphones are the past….all of the so called Iphones are not updated as well with missing features from the current OS… yes if you have the iPhone 4 which is junk compared to the evo I guess your finen…but the rest of your Iphones are lef5 behind

  • http://Website Ben Johnson,, GA

    Thats why we love our iPhones, we dont have to hassle with this! Blame it on you, you made a big mistake and bought it and now lets see if you can handle it…cant go wrong with the iPhone.


    • http://Website ANDEEE

      You can’t go wrong with Iphone?

      buying an Iphone is already wrong choice for me…..

      Where are the widgets?

    • http://Website Frag_effect

      Yes you can, your always holding it wrong.
      Sent from my phone that’s faster then your phone. Rofl

    • http://Website Aljowen

      Yes now just try and get a signal while holding it in your lower left hand :-p

  • http://Website mindo

    Don’t knock the iphone, Apple updated os4 to everyone 3 hardware generations back. I’d say thats a pretty good investment of your $. With android ur lucky to buy a phone with current os.

    Every shithead is making phones now, cos that make dishwashers and dryers are bandwagoning, it’s making me sick. And none of them are giving android the respect it deserves. Moto is gonna update defy to 2.2 in Q2 2011??? Sony has devices out there running 1.6???. LG and Samsung are writing UI software??? WTF.

    They shouldn’t be allowed to develop anymore if they’re gonna dick around like this. Apple is laughing at these amateurs.

  • http://Website Paul Atreides

    My G1 did everything the current Iphone 4 does with the exception of the video chatting, which my EVO has muscled in on. Android comes loaded with many amazing features, regardless of fragmentation. When some really outstandish features, such as live wallpapers are introduced more often in these updates, you might see more of an outcry for these updates. More outcries from the masses will force these companies to push the OTA’s out faster. Most people are satisfied with their current version however, until a friend shows them something they can do which isn’t possible for the other guy. Shout out to Richard, we will have our gingerbread in a couple months time, don’t mind the haters. EVO is the phone of the year hands down. I don’t seen fragmentation slowing until we get out of the trial stages of android. Honeycomb will be the first full fledged version of Android.

  • http://Website mindo

    @paul, the problem is that a lot of apps now wont run on anything older than 2.1, so the suckers who bought a Sony or Moto etc will notice that their friend is running skype but they can’t. But hey its a Sony! (do people still think sony is good?)

    Unless you need a physical kybd, you’re doing yourself a great disservice by not getting an iphone. Android will be in beta until at least 3.0 is out. The waiting game is fun when something no one has is around the corner, but not when you’re constantly waiting to catch up to the i-people. Also, where will ios be in a year? Probably still ahead of the game.

    There is a lot to be said about making the os AND the hw.

    I personally need a hw kybd, so its droid pro for me, but I am paying a huge price putting up with Motos bullshit delusional vision of a business phone – did they even bother getting a few BB’s to reverse engineer? Blur? Shit batt life? Usesless reception, speakerphone, mic placement and build quality? These companies embarrass themselves too much. Moto charm ne1? Haha lols, what a pos.

  • http://Website Paul Atreides

    @mindo aka troll-a-saur

    You missed my point that Android has been ahead of iOs in many categories since it arrived. The features Iphone fans are jizzing in their pants over now, get’s a yawn from the Android crowd at this point. Android may still be in the testing phase but it’s nothing to laugh at. People with older versions aren’t missing that many apps I’m sure. I have a 2.2 device and I notice a lot of the apps I use are being made available to the masses or there may be a lite version being offered. Nobody is frustrated over Androids current state more than Apple, Symbian and RIM! I’ve tasted every flavor of Android and they’re all delicious compared to that fruit you adore so much.

  • http://Website mindo

    What you’re saying makes no sense, you’re basically advocating for outdated os’s.

    Sorry but 1.6 was and still is a pos, and in no way was ahead of anybody except maybe blackberry and only in web browsing at that – I feel sorry for the hundreds of thousands that are still on it and have no upgrade path ahead of them.

    Sorry, but there is nothing positive about running an outdated os. Factor in all the stuff that the googs and other devs want to push out to devices but cant because stupid sony, moto and a bunch of other shitheads want to play $$ with us, and you’ve got a problem on your hands to say the least.

    I still have high hopes for android, I am in no way a fan of ios and apples shite policies, but I am not seeing any real advantage at this point. I do see a lot of downsides though. The way i see it android better start delivering soon, because bb has gone down as far as it will at this point and it’s only gonna rise again, and winmo is on its way as well.

  • http://Website Alex Garcia

    That is why i love HTC phones. Today it is the best Android phones for sure.

  • http://Website InspectorGadget80

    I’m just glad I return my X10 cause I knew this would happened I’ll wait for something else as long as I can. AT&T don’t gives a damn bout Android and by next year it will have 2.1 and everyone else will have 2.3.

  • crsmejia

    Carrier updates are slow for devices other than the iPhone. This is due to the way carriers deal with manufacturers. Samsung and the alike are in the business of selling devices. They don’t care much about but he phone’s support or even software at times. Apple on the other hand does a better job with the iPhone. Carriers don’t have a say in iPhone updates. This is why in the support sector Apple is a better product over all. Most Android devices are bloated and its a relationship that most manufacturers and carriers have. I have a Galaxy S4 so I am not glorifying Apple.