Android 4.0: Tracking Ice Cream Sandwich’s Availability on Smartphones

Last week HTC published a list of phones that will receive the update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, along with expected launch dates and an estimated end date of late August 2012. That’s not a very encouraging prospect, as Google officially introduced ICS last October. Also because the next major revision of Android codenamed “Jelly Bean” will be close to release by then (scheduled for Q3/12).

But this isn’t particularly a problem with HTC phones. In fact, Ice Cream Sandwich is more the exception rather than the rule on Android devices across the board.

Phone shipping with ICS
Your choices here are limited to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was released in partnership with Google in December and has an uncompiled version of Android 4.0, and the HTC One lineup that includes the One S on T-Mobile, the One X on AT&T. , and Evo. 4G LTE on Sprint. These will soon be joined by the Samsung Galaxy S III, which is expected to launch globally soon, including across all four major carriers in the US.

Phones with ICS upgrade currently running
These smartphones are already being upgraded to Android 4.0. If you own one of these and are still waiting for the updates to arrive, be aware that they are being rolled out over a period of several weeks.

Not all phone makers are providing specific details as to when each of their devices is being upgraded to Android 4.0. Motorola is only listing them on a quarterly basis, while HTC recently provided a two-month release window, and Sony is getting a little more specific with the next round of updates starting this week and continuing throughout June. will continue in the third quarter. Samsung is not giving any date.

HTC notes that due to localization, testing, and partner approval, updates do not roll out to all devices at the same time. For a variety of carriers and devices in multiple countries, it can take up to 45 days from the initial update for the rollout to reach everyone. If you are not prompted to update automatically, you can check for updates manually by going to Settings > About > Software Update.

An upgrade to Android 4.0 will include Sense 3.6, not Sense 4, as some aspects of Sense 4 require dedicated hardware, which is not available on all devices.

To date, the only Motorola device that has been upgraded to Android 4.0 is WiFi-XOOM only (and versions only in the US or Canada). The company outlined its 4-step update process in December and plans to roll out some of them “soon.” Regarding the selection of phones that are eligible for the update and which are not, Motorola has this to say: “Obviously we want the new release to make our devices better. If we determine that it is Can’t be done – so well, we haven’t been able to upgrade that particular device.”

Samsung has been at the forefront of the 2.3 to 4.0 move, rolling out Ice Cream Sandwich to a number of unlocked devices, including the hugely popular Galaxy S II. Unfortunately, updates to branded devices stall out in carrier-specific testing, so plenty of users with subsidized phones are still waiting their turn. Making matters worse, neither Samsung nor the carrier is sharing the time frame for the update.

Sony has been pretty forward about their Ice Cream Sandwich rollout and so far they’ve mostly stayed true to their planned upgrade schedule. More recently they started rolling out updates for two of their 2011 devices and more should follow throughout the week and into the next month. Notably, the Xperia Play will be the only Xperia phone from last year’s lineup that is not getting the update, as Sony cited stability and stability issues.

Sony is rolling out Android 4.0.4 for its devices while remaining on kernel 2.6.32 – technically, ICS should have kernel 3.0.X+. It is unclear whether this will result in any issues or missing features. A developer at Sony Ericsson previously stated that making the new kernel stable requires a lot of testing and validation, so they decided to keep the tried and tested 2.6.32 kernel in order to release ICS as soon as possible. decided to.

Why so much fuss about having the latest version?
If there’s a lesson to be learned here is that you should buy a phone today that will make you happy, not a phone that promises new features with updates that may or may not show up. Granted, this is valid advice for any consumer electronic purchase, but Android serves as a perfect example for this.

That said, it’s not unreasonable that your one year old phone should be able to get the latest software updates, especially when you know it is technically capable of running it. There are many new features to be gained in the transition from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android 4.0 is based on a new look and feel, the Holo theme, which provides a more consistent experience across the OS and makes it easier for users to find those common buttons and functions. There’s also a new “Roboto” font that’s easy on the eyes.

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