Samsung’s Galaxy S is only 18 months but in that short time over 10m devices have been sold. And they’re now officially not going to be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich. That’s a slap in the face to many people with two year contracts who expected their phones to get the latest OS updates and also a bit of a shock since the Android Update Alliance promised OS updates for 18 months (technically for new phones but many thought it would be extended to existing ones as well). But the reason is simple: even with a 1ghz Hummingbird it simple can’t handle ICS and Samsung’s UI skin TouchWiz. That gives you a sense as to the drain that a custom skin leads to and this will equate to performance and battery life. It also speaks volumes about the fragmentation in Android’s lineup. There’s still no certainty that any device you buy will get upgraded to the latest OS and if it does, when that will happen. MSNBC took a nice jab at this one:
Look at Microsoft. Every single Windows Phone is eligible for the latest version of Windows Phone 7, even if the phone was released more than a year ago. That’s because Microsoft has been smart about how it licenses Windows Phone 7, giving manufacturers a list of hardware requirements the devices must follow before they can start using the platform.
Now there will be a time when the current hardware of Windows Pones will not be upgradeable to the latest software – no doubt. But based on the way the devices have been released there’s two sets of hardware based on chipset so it’s a pretty simple delineation and the mandatory specs (without any custom skins) assures that all users get the update.
Anyway, back to the Galaxy S – XDA is now your friend. Yeah you’ll go skinless but ICS is supposed to have improved the UI overall anyway. I think Jimski summed it up best though:
Reminds me of the old Windows days, when each new version preceded processor capabilities and hard drive capacity by six months or so. Glad they have finally come to their senses. Less IS more.
UPDATE: the Verge has noted that Samsung is reviewing the possibility of an ICS update after the internet rage that followed their announcement that the update wouldn’t happen. For my two cents, I think this is their current response and they’ll drag this on until we either forget about it or they release some version of ICS without TouchWiz but by then it’s on a 2 year old phone that’s not in wide circulation anyway so they don’t give up much.