Here we go again. Today, Ars Technica reported that Samsung released a fact sheet for all the confirmed ICS (Android 4.0) eligible handsets and it seems that for the most part, if you’ve recently purchased a Galaxy variant, you can expect to get all the goodness that’s promised in ICS. Unless you’re a T-Mobile customer.
T-Mobile is the very precarious position of being dead last in subscription numbers among the top 4 national carriers in the U.S. Part of being in last place, also means that your phone selection tends to suffer as T-Mobile’s does – they only have two “flagship” or top tier phones in the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Samsung Galaxy Blaze 4G (we’ll talk about stupid naming schemes in another post. Promise). T-Mobile is also trying to position itself as “budget” option among major carriers (obvious exclusions being smaller regional carriers like Metro PCS or Cricket), yet another hurdle to get over as more people are (rightly but for the wrong reason) equating “budget” with “uncompetitive.” That said, T-Mobile is working with the odds against it and if they want to remain relevant they must DO BETTER.
T-Mobile is no position to compete with AT&T or Verizon (or Sprint for that matter thanks to the iPhone) in terms of handset selection. The most anticipated handset since the iPhone, the Nokia 900 will only be available on AT&T in the US, Verizon has said they too will begin aggressively pushing Windows Phone, and Sprint is seeing new life in large part because of the iPhone. Currently T-Mobile is focusing on being the cheapest option/value-centric option, but as more and more customers become aware of the true power of smartphones, T-Mobile needs to step up their update game.
As of this post, neither Samsung nor T-Mobile have made any official statement as to if/when T-Mobile customers can expect an update for a flagship phone that shipped only a few months back. Also, T-Mobile customers that bought the Samsung Galaxy Blaze 4G are shit out of luck; the Galaxy Blaze 4G is a Galaxy variant and will stay stuck on Android 2.3 Gingerbread (confused yet?).
Samsung is not completely without fault here; as Ars reported, Samsung has promised updates on ALL Galaxy S II handsets since last year but has failed to deliver. Sure, part of the problem is that carriers have the final say as to when an update is sent to customers, but this is a glaring flaw in all Android handsets. As smartphones become the new phone, the slow to nonexistent commitment to provide timely updates will continue to frustrate users and developers alike. Sure, ICS promises to deliver the most current and forward thinking version of Android to date, but until carriers and manufacturers start providing updates to phones these are nothing more than empty promises of a future with flying cars and open mobile operating systems.