The real summer blockbuster may very well be the battle royale now underway for Android supremacy. Manufacturers have stayed true to their word (from CES in January) that we’d see fewer Android smartphone models this year; instead we’d get Apple-like major launches. Sure enough, there are two models vying for your attention: the newly announced Samsung Galaxy S III and the upcoming Motorola RAZR HD. For upgraders or iPhone switchers (and I know many… what with the limited display size of the 4S, and inflexibility of iOS) the question remains: Which Android is the best – Samsung S III or Motorola RAZR HD?
As an OG Droid guy (November 2009) I passed on the Galaxy Nexus (bad battery) and waited and waited until finally the right Android came along. That was the Samsung Galaxy S III. Its predecessor was a smash hit. And the sim-less version I have — now rooted and running Ice Cream Sandwich — is testament to Samsung’s design prowess. Here’s hoping Apple gets off their high horse, and drops these fruitless, asinine, innovation stifling patent trolling vacations. Ultimately, competition is good for a free market, and, ultimately, consumers.
Here’s the thing. As soon as Verizon announced the S III last week I pre-ordered el pronto.
However, as I’m wont to do, I continued to research the upcoming Moto RAZR HD. Being an OG Droid owner, I’ve been impressed with Motorola’s build quality. And, there’s something about made … er, I mean designed … in America that feels right.
But I want to make the right choice.
Probably like a lot of you, I’ll be living with this new Android for years to come, so it’s got be as perfect as perfect can be. And the S III, while no doubt the best Android you can possibly order today (and smartly to be available on all major carriers: Verizon, ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile) has a few shortcomings, that have me second-guessing my decision to go from OG Droid – S III. But there’s at least one major, major reason why waiting for the RAZR HD might not be the best idea. More on that in a sec.
First, here’s a few of the reasons I’m considering cancelling my Galaxy S III pre-order and holding out for the upcoming Motorola Droid RAZR HD:
Might sound weird to some of you, but I love that Kevlar backing and the overall rigidity and durability it adds to the device. Though I’ve yet to get my hands on the S III, it sounds like it is quite plastick-y. Not the worse thing in the world. The S II feels fine to me, but … Kevlar!
2. Better car dock, multimedia dock
It seems as though Motorola does a better job with accessories, specifically the car, and multimedia docks. These are both essential to me. I use Google Nav daily for our Stark Insider ventures which take us from Napa down to Carmel and up and down Silicon Valley.
3. Softkeys (like the Galaxy Nexus)
I like softkeys. The physical button on bottom-center of the S III has an old-school vibe (in a bad way). On the other hand, those softkeys as seen on the Nexus really give developers and future Android revs room to grow.
4. Battery life!
Okay, maybe this should be number 1 in terms of priority.
The S III will ship with a 2100mAh battery – keep in mind the screen is 4.8-inches (that’s large). Moto reportedly will up that by about 50% with 3300mAh of juice (same as the well performing RAZR Maxx). That’s a significant difference. I simply can’t stand running our of power in the middle of a work day- it can end up costing me money.
5. Anything but TouchWiz
Ultimately I prefer stock ICS/Android, as we see in the Galaxy Nexus. However, between Samsung’s TouchWiz and Motorola’s Blur/? I’d pick anything but TouchWiz.
While it matters less to me, the RAZR HD will also beat the S III when it comes to camera resolution (13 MP vs. 8 MP).
But — and this is a Big But — here’s the rub: I immediately upgraded to the S III before Verizon decided to pull the plug on grandfathered unlimited data plans. Thankfully my unlimited plan ported over with no issue (though it annoys me to no end out of principal, that Verizon charges a $30 “upgrade fee” to a loyal customer).
The risk is if I decide to cancel the S III, and wait for the Moto for the reasons mentioned above I risk not being able to port the unlimited plan when the RAZR HD comes out. Since we have no date yet on the new RAZR this can be cause for concern.
I’m oh-so-close to cancelling the S III and waiting for the RAZR HD, and taking the chance Verizon will give us ample notice before pulling the magical unlimited data carpet from underneath our stream-loving feet.
Nokia and ATT have aggressively promoted the new Lumia 900 smartphone with a big marketing campaign, but at Best Buy, Lumia sales still pale in comparison to the hottest Android phones, a company executive says.
Scott Anderson, vice president of Best Buy’s mobile group, said in a phone interview that the Lumia 900 was a “very decent seller.” He said, however, that it hadn’t sold nearly as well as Android phones like HTC’s Evo 4G LTE on Sprint or the new Samsung Galaxy S III, which will be available for all four major United States carriers.
The Lumia 900 features Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s mobile operating system, which is less well known than Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Mr. Anderson said he thought a lot of customers were waiting for the release of Windows Phone 8, the next version of the Windows mobile software.
Best Buy, the nation’s biggest electronics chain, is in the unique position of selling flagship handsets for each cellular network — unlike the carriers, whose stores offer only phones that work on their own networks.
Mr. Anderson said he could not disclose specific sales numbers, but he said presales for the Galaxy S III, due out this month, exceeded expectations, and presales for the Evo 4G LTE made it the best-selling Sprint handset at Best Buy. He called the releases of those two phones “major iconic launches” because Best Buy employees across the country had received extensive training with those products and stirred up buzz about them, and because the Galaxy S III was the first phone the store has sold that is coming out on all four big American carriers.
Some recent statistics have shown that Android sales are slowing compared to years past, in part because the iPhone became available on multiple American carriers last year. Mr. Anderson said he saw no such trend at Best Buy. “We’re not seeing the decline in Android that I also read about online,” he said. “We continue to have a lot of great successes with the Android launches.”
The sales performance of the Lumia 900 is important for Nokia, as it could determine the struggling handset maker’s fate in the phone business. The company’s share of the phone market has been declining rapidly as Apple and the manufacturers of Android phones have dominated smartphone sales. In April, Samsung dethroned Nokia as the world’s No. 1 maker of mobile phones. Incidentally, Standard Poor’s downgraded Nokia’s bonds to junk status, because sales of its older phones had fallen so significantly.
Denis Doyle/Bloomberg News
For some time now, Google‘s Android system has been No. 1 worldwide and in the United States in terms of smartphone market share. But recent statistics suggest that the almighty robot has been losing steam in this country.
Horace Dediu, an analyst who was previously a business development manager at Nokia, published a blog post on Monday with charts illustrating a slowdown of Android’s growth in the United States, citing numbers from ComScore, the market research firm.
He notes that smartphone purchases have slowed in recent months compared with November, and much of that can be traced to a tapering off in Android adoption. Apple‘s iPhone growth, meanwhile, has remained relatively healthy.
“The concern has to be that rather than seeing the net adds growing – as they have for two years with only two contiguous months of decline – Android net adds have been falling for four months,” he wrote.” In other words, while Android is still growing, its growth is much smaller than before — and it’s questionable whether it will continue to be the operating system of choice for smartphone buyers in the United States.
Some of the slowdown for Android is also attributable to the business market. A sampling of about 3,000 businesses using by Good Technology, a major information technology firm that provides mobile management software, found that iPhone usage was increasing in the workplace, while Android phones have seen a significant dip since last year.
Jan Dawson, a mobile analyst with Ovum, said that the apparent drop in Android device purchases was related to the iPhone becoming available on other carriers last year — before, it was exclusive to ATT — so it’s natural to see a drop in the near term. However, he said that in the long term, Android is likely to win in numbers because some Android phones are more affordable than the iPhone, and thus they appeal to a broader customer base over all.
“I think you have that one-time, U.S.-specific effect, plus a broader effect that affects people worldwide,” he said. “But long term I still expect Android to dominate, simply because it appeals to a much wider base of customers worldwide, especially at the low end.”
Dita Alangkara/Associated Press
Samsung on Monday said it would release its newest Android smartphone, the Galaxy S III, this month on each of the big wireless networks in the United States: Verizon, ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. That’s a significant product introduction compared with other Android phones, which are typically released on one or two carriers.
This is how Samsung is competing with Apple: It’s investing a lot in a single phone and ensuring it has maximum distribution by teaming with all the big carriers. By way of comparison, Apple’s iPhone has over time become available on each of the big carriers, with the exception of T-Mobile (an absence that has hurt T-Mobile more than Apple).
Apple is now the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker, but Samsung is the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, factoring in traditional cellphones and smartphones. In terms of sales, the Galaxy S III and the iPhone will be the most directly comparable handsets in the United States, serving as a measure for what’s more appealing: Apple’s locked-down, polished iOS ecosystem, or Google’s more open, edgy Android system.
Samsung first released the new Galaxy phone in Europe last month. In the United States, its price will start at $200 with a two-year contract.
It seems there is a new crop of Android phones every few months, which is great if you’re in the market for a new phone.
I got separate pitches from ATT and T-Mobile a few weeks ago about new phones from HTC.
First, T-Mobile sent me the HTC One S, which arrived promptly and sat on my desk for a week.
Then ATT sent me an email about its HTC One X. I read that email on my iPhone when I was away from the office and quickly replied that I had that same phone from T-Mobile.
It seems I was mistaken.
The phones look similar, cost the same and share a lot of the same features, but there are differences internally and externally.
The One S from T-Mobile retails for $199 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Anchored by a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED touch screen, the One S has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with 16 gigabytes of internal storage and 1 gigabyte of RAM.
The screen resolution is 960 x 540 pixels.
The body of the One S is aluminum, is 7.8 mm thick and weighs just 4.22 ounces.
The One S has two cameras — an 8-megapixel rear camera with a 28 mm f/2.0 wide-angle lens that captures 1080p HD video, and a lower-resolution camera on the front for video chats.
The One S was the first phone I’ve seen with Beats Audio, a sound-enhancement software to “enrich” the listening experience.
The One S runs on T-Mobile’s 4G network and is the first T-Mobile phone to ship with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
PROS: metal body, slim, fast network, Android 4.0
CONS: no card slot for extra storage; the screen resolution could be better
BOTTOM LINE: a good phone for the money
The One X, offered by ATT, is the big brother to the One S in that it sports a larger display and a slightly larger battery.
With a polycarbonate body, the One X is 8.9 mm thick and weighs 4.6 ounces. The display resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels.
The One X also has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
The phone has the same 8-megapixel rear camera as the One S, but it has a slightly better 1.3-megapixel front camera.
The X also has 16 gigabytes of storage and 1 gigabyte of RAM, and runs Android 4.0.
Neither phone has an external slot for extra storage.
The One X also has Beats Audio enhancement.
The One X features NFC (near field communication), which allows the phone to support Android Beam or Google Wallet, two technologies for device-to-device data transfer. Think of it as a way for the phone to act like a credit card.
Both phones can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices.
I used the One X as my Internet connection for a weeklong business trip and found the 4G LTE network to be very fast.
I did have to hunt for the setting that disconnected the Wi-Fi hotspot after a few minutes of inactivity, but once I did, the One X had more than enough battery power to last an entire day of surfing with my laptop and iPad.
The One X is $199 with a new two-year contract and a qualifying data plan.
PROS: screen size, NFC, fast 4G LTE, Android 4.0
CONS: no card slot for extra storage
BOTTOM LINE: This is a flagship phone for ATT. One of the better choices for Android devices.
Samsung’s highly anticipated flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S III, debuts in 28 European countries this week. As such, reviews began pouring in across the Internet from those lucky enough to get their hands on the top Android smartphone. Meanwhile, technophiles and Fandroids in the United States only hope the saying “Good things come to those who wait” applies.
To refresh your memory, the Samsung Galaxy S III runs a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, 2100 mAh battery, and a Near-Field Communications (NFC) chip for mobile payments. Running Android 4.0.4 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” the Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display and records 1080p video.
Market Reaction and Thoughts
Reviewers note the Galaxy S III is balanced, at least more so than the awkwardly large 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. While the 4.8-inch screen isn’t petite, the overall consensus is it doesn’t feel small, but isn’t outlandishly hefty.
Overall, reviewers claim the S III is an improvement over other Superphones, but rather cumbersome to hold in one hand. The screen is definitively “supersized” if you’re coming from an iPhone, which maintains the “tiny” 3.5-inch Retina display.
Interestingly, Vlad Savov of The Verge notes the Galaxy S III has one of the best cameras he has ever used on an Android device. Interesting, because iFixIt recently revealed the Galaxy S III uses the same rear-camera sensor as the iPhone 4S.
In terms of the user interface, for better or worse, Samsung adds their TouchWiz UI on top of Android. Sharif Sakr of Engadget notes the competitive HTC One X has “a much better user interface that sticks more closely to the guiding ethos of Android 4.0.”
Sakr wasn’t the only one to criticize Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Chris Hall of Pocket-Lint notes certain facets of the interface feel “cartoony.” That is, if you can see the display. Hall noted the screen could have been brighter, which was due to Samsung’s battery-saving feature. Overall, though, Hall praises the smartphone for its incredible power and expandability via the removable battery and microSD card slot.
Unfortunately, reviewers overwhelmingly dislike the plastic shell on the Samsung Galaxy S III. Unlike the HTC One X, which has a metallic finish, the S III doesn’t posses the same design standards. Critics went as far as to jokingly claim, Samsung’s lawyers designed the phone.
U.S. Differences and Availability
There are several key differences in the final U.S. Galaxy S III, which is expected to release later this summer. Mainly, the phone will run a dual-core processor with an integrated LTE chip. Luckily, most analysts say a quad-core chip in a cell phone is borderline overkill, so most users won’t notice the difference. Especially given Android isn’t engineered to leverage multiple cores.
The Galaxy S III is expected to cost $199 with a new two-year contract, but carrier information or pricing hasn’t been released. Like it’s predecessor, the Galaxy S II, it will be released on the major carriers, including Verizon and ATT.
If there’s one thing to hate about Android, it’s the uncertainty about whether your phone will ever run the latest and greatest version of Google’s mobile OS.
Besides delivering new features, these updated versions of Android also bring security patches and bug fixes that can solve major problems in performance, call quality, and even battery life.
Since Android updates vary depending on mobile service carrier and phone model, we’ve put together a chart to help you keep track of which phones will (or won’t) be updated to the next major version of Android. To check for your phone’s status on the chart, see “Android Phone Updates: A Comprehensive Guide.”
The list focuses on phones now available and phones confirmed to be moving up to the next major version of the OS (currently, Android 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich). Android 4.0 is a huge step forward for the Android OS, and the update significantly changes how Android looks and feels. It includes updated versions of all of the core apps, such as Gmail and Maps, and the OS looks much slicker as well.
We’ll update the chart regularly, so we invite you to check in periodically to see whether your phone will be getting a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich or any of the future dessert-nicknamed updates such as Android Jelly Bean.
That accounts for the specific information in the chart–but what does the overall data tell us about how successful different carriers and phone manufacturers are at updating their phones with newer versions of Android?
The data in our comprehensive chart indicates several trends. ATT and Verizon currently have the largest number of phones that either run Android Ice Cream Sandwich now or are scheduled to receive it (nine models each); next in line come Sprint (seven models) and Verizon (five).
If we look at how many phones are already on Ice Cream Sandwich, however, the rankings get shuffled quite a bit, with Sprint and T-Mobile tied at the top, and ATT and Verizon playing catch-up.
In fact, T-Mobile, the carrier that had the lowest percentage of expected Ice Cream Sandwich-friendly phones in the first chart turns out to have the highest percentage of phones running Android 4.0 now. Sprint follows close behind T-Mobile on this measure, with ATT coming in a distant third and Verizon an even more distant fourth. Most of Verizon’s lineup is scheduled for updating, but at the moment only one of its phones runs Ice Cream Sandwich.
The data for updates by manufacturer is striking, too. First, let’s look at the numbers for the top five Android phone makers, based on existing or planned upgrades to Android 4.0.
HTC has been good about promising updates, and 80 percent of HTC devices now available either have Ice Cream Sandwich or are slated to get it sometime this year.
Both Motorola and Samsung have issued timelines for future Android 4.0 updates; for various reasons, however, a few of these manufacturers’ current Android phones won’t be updated.
For instance, though Sony initially promised to update its entire line of 2011 Xperia phones to Android 4.0, the company subsequently announced that the Xperia Play and the Xperia Play 4G (on Verizon and ATT, respectively) would not be receive that update. Likewise, Motorola’s Droid 3 will never run anything higher than Android 2.3–even though the phone came out a little less than a year ago.
You may have noticed that the carrier data lists 30 existing or planned Android 4.0 phones while the manufacturer data lists 33 such phones. That’s because Samsung’s total includes three unlocked Ice Cream Sandwich models: the Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy S II, and the Nexus S.
When we look at which manufacturers already have phones running Ice Cream Sandwich, we see little shifting in overall position.
Of the five major manufacturers of Android handsets, only two currently ship phones that run any version of the operating system higher than Android 2.3.
HTC has the largest number of phones currently running Ice Cream Sandwich; some of them shipped already running the OS, and others have been upgraded from Android 2.3. Samsung has three phones already on Android 4.0, but all of them are Nexus devices; the company’s Galaxy S II line hasn’t been updated since the phones launched back in the second half of 2011.
Motorola, like Sony, promised that most of its 2011 line of phones would receive Android 4.0 updates–but we’ve yet to see Ice Cream Sandwich running on any Motorola phone. With Motorola Mobility now part of Google, we hope that those updates will arrive sooner rather than later.
HTC currently has the best track record for keeping its phones up-to-date. To strengthen the future likelihood that your Android phone will have the latest version of Android, according to our research, your best bet is to pick up an HTC phone on either T-Mobile or Sprint.
If neither of those carriers is available in your area, or if you’re looking for LTE/4G speeds, buying an HTC phone on ATT is your next-best option.
Though Verizon offers a lot of Android phones, most of the updates that the carrier has promised remain simply promises. That’s not to say that the phones Verizon offers are bad. But you may have to wait a bit longer for updates to reach your Android phone.
Click photo to enlarge
When it comes to smartphones, I’m an iPhone guy. But I’ve long appreciated HTC’s Android phones.
The first Android phone I really liked was HTC’s Galaxy Nexus. I also was a big fan of the Nexus’ sibling, the Droid Incredible.
But over the past year or so, HTC has struggled to make phones that stood out in the increasingly crowded Android marketplace. It’s lost share to Samsung, which has focused on phones with jumbo, brilliantly lit screens.
Now HTC is trying to stage a comeback. Earlier this year, it announced a new flagship line of phones dubbed One. The first two models in the line, the One S and the One X, recently hit store shelves at T-Mobile and ATT, respectively.
I’ve been testing out both phones and generally like what I’ve seen. I don’t consider either one a must-have, but they are both worth a serious look if you are in the market for an Android device.
Of the two, I was immediately drawn to the One S. I’ve not been a big fan of phones with screens larger than 4 inches because they tend to be unwieldy to use with one hand. But the One S is super-sleek.
Despite having the same 4.3-inch screen as Motorola’s Droid Razr, the One S is lighter. It’s also nearly as thin as the Razr without having a raised bump for its camera. Instead, the One S’s back is flat with rounded edges and feels great in the hand.
With a 4.7-inch screen, the One X is noticeably bigger than the One S. Although it shares the same basic
design and is only slightly heavier, its bulk makes it feel clumsy in my hands.
The two phones’ screens differ not just in size but also in underlying technology and resolution. The One S has an organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display, which offers richer colors and deeper blacks than the One X’s LCD display, but looks a bit dimmer in bright light.
As one might expect from a bigger screen, the One X’s shows more pixels than the One S’s, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Some apps designed for smaller displays appear stretched out or have ultra-tiny buttons.
Still, the One S and the One X have a lot in common. Both have fast dual-core processors, an adequate but not ample amount of storage — 16 gigabytes — and the latest version of Android, which is known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
On both phones, though, HTC has decided to forgo the virtual system buttons that Google (GOOG) built into Ice Cream Sandwich that change in number and appearance from application to application. Instead, HTC is sticking with the permanent and fixed touch-sensitive buttons that used to be found on all Android phones. I think that’s a good choice; I’ve found the ever-changing system buttons in the latest version of Android to be confusing.
Both phones also run the latest version of HTC’s Sense interface on top of Android. I’ve always liked Sense, an easier-to-use interface than what ships with the standard version of Android. HTC streamlined the interface a bit in the new version and added one cool feature that helps its devices continue to stand out from other Android phones.
Recently used applications are displayed as cards that are rotated slightly. You can swipe left and right to access various apps. And you can close applications by swiping up. It looks a lot like the multi-tasking system of Palm’s webOS, which I loved, and I was happy to see HTC borrow the idea.
One of the key features HTC is touting in the One line of phones is their super-fast cameras.
I take a lot of pictures on cellphones, and it can be a really frustrating experience. They tend to do a poor job in low-light situations and many are just too slow to capture pictures of fast-moving kids or animals.
But I was impressed with the cameras on the One phones, at least in terms of their speed. They shoot photos almost instantaneously. And if you keep the shutter button pressed down, they’ll shoot continuously until you have no more storage space left — if you want to go that long. When you stop shooting, the phones will help you select the best shot; you can either keep all the ones you shot in a row, or simply the best one.
Neither phone is perfect. Thanks to its giant screen, the One X seemed to gobble up its battery power fairly quickly, even in moderate use.
Meanwhile, the One S suffers from its service provider; as I drove around the Bay Area, I found numerous spots where I either couldn’t get T-Mobile’s service on the One S, or where I could only get its aging 2G network. The One S I tested also had a bug that caused it to mysteriously reboot several times, even when I wasn’t using it.
Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285 or email@example.com. Follow him at www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton or Twitter.com/troywolv.
HTC One S
Likes: Super-fast camera; sleek design; easy-to-use interface
Dislikes: Spotty coverage; bug causes random reboots
Specs: 1.5 GHz dual-core processor; 16 gigabytes of storage; 4.3-inch OLED screen; 8-megapixel rear and sub-1-megapixel front cameras
Price: $200 with two-year T-Mobile contract
HTC One X
Likes: Fast-shooting camera; easy-to-use interface; speedy 4G LTE coverage
Dislikes: Bulky; big screen limits battery life; some apps appear stretched out on big screen
Specs: 1.5 GHz dual-core processor; 16 gigabytes of storage; 4.7-inch LCD screen; 8-megapixel rear and sub-1-megapixel front cameras
Price: $200 with two-year ATT contract
HTC One X Android phone by HTC Corp.
$199.99 at att.com
Because Google Inc. gives away its Android software for smartphones, there are a lot of mediocre Android smartphones. It seems like everybody with a soldering iron has slapped something together, often with unimpressive results.
But when a company like Taiwan’s HTC Corp. sets its mind to the task, it can come up with something exceptional, like this gorgeous new One X, available only through ATT Inc. It’s got to be the loveliest Android phone ever built, thinner and lighter than Apple Inc.’s iPhone, and with a bigger screen capable of excellent high-definition video.
The One X is compatible with ATT’s 4G LTE data service, much faster than the iPhone 4S, which lacks LTE. And the HTC phone has an exceptionally good camera, perhaps the best ever built into a phone. It’s especially strong in low-light situations, taking brilliantly sharp pictures even in dimly-lit rooms.
There are plenty of adequate Androids to choose from, but for a little more money, the One X delivers excellence.
No matter what kind of wild-eyed iOS fan you may be, there’s no denying that Android’s spike goes deep into the tech industry’s soil. But can it ever be removed by the competition? Steve Jobs declared thermonuclear war on Android during his tenure as Apple’s CEO, but did not manage to keep Google’s little green robot from flowing through the veins of most of the mobile industry. The proliferation of handsets makes battle Android feel like a fist-fight against a swarm of gnats, and the rock-bottom prices for Android phones makes them hard to ignore no matter what non-Android devices have to offer. What, then, could be done to break Android’s chokehold on the tech world and open up more space for competitors?
ReadWriteWeb has some opinions about the ways in which Android can be taken out of the equation. Predictably, they cite Android’s fragmentation (the proliferation of handsets is as much a curse as it is a blessing), and how carriers are reluctant and sometimes unwilling to make operating system updates available to users. As an iOS user, it’s nearly inconceivable to picture a world in which you wouldn’t have access to your updates, but adoption of the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) has still barely crested 4 percent of Android users (whereas more than 60 percent of iOS users are updated to the latest version).
Only a handful of desirable Ice Cream Sandwich devices are available right now. The newly released HTC One series is probably the best, but that may not last long with a new Samsung flagship (Galaxy S III) in the pipeline. ATT did not have an Ice Cream Sandwich device on its shelves in any form until the Samsung Galaxy Note was released. Verizon was not much better, with the Android flagship Galaxy Nexus as the only decent Ice Cream Sandwich phone on the market (from any carrier) for a good portion of 2012. Simply put, for most of the year, there have not been a lot of exciting high-end Android phones. It’s hard to see how the latest version of Android can achieve mass adoption while it’s so hard to obtain.
Pointing out fragmentation and issues with OS adoption is no new revelation for critics, but those two issues remain very serious vulnerabilities and bear repeating. One need only look at the rise of Windows in the 90s: Cheaper than the Mac and included on almost all cheap PCs when you buy them off the shelf. Again, a lot of fragmentation in that the company that made the operating system (Microsoft) was not the company that made the hardware. Instead, hundreds of PCs in thousands of configurations were in the wild, each needing their own unique code subset to have the components talk to the OS. Over time, people ended up moving away from Windows due to vulnerability to malware, insecurity, and crashing. While Android certainly is riding a very profitable wave in the mobile market, its similarities to Windows are not something Google should ignore.