For most smartphone users, Google's Android upgrades are both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, each upgrade opens the door to exciting new features and functions for a phone. On the other hand, the updates don't arrive instantly - and the wait to receive them can often be long and filled with uncertainty or disappointment.
The Android upgrade frustration has never been more evident than with the rollout of Google's Android 2.2 upgrade, best known as Froyo. Since being announced last June, Froyo has slowly made its way onto handsets around the world. Some phones got the software within a matter of days. Others, however, waited weeks or months, while others yet (cough, cough, Galaxy S) are still waiting for their turns. Then, of course, there are the phones that have been given the dreaded 'no upgrade' stamp - the Android equivalent of being forced into retirement from a game you're still itching to play.
So who can you trust to provide timely Android upgrades, and whose track record is less than impressive? I set out to find that answer. I compiled data on Android phones released between 2009 and 2010. I looked at which phones were upgraded to Froyo by the end of 2010, and which were either still waiting or being left behind. I calculated exactly how many days it took for each phone to receive its upgrade, then used that data to generate overall upgrade reliability scores for all the major manufacturers.
Here's what I discovered.
Android upgrades: calculating the scores
First, a few quick notes on my methodology: For the purposes of this analysis, I included only phones released by major manufacturers. As mentioned above, I looked at phones released in 2009 and 2010. When calculating the time it took for each phone to receive the Froyo upgrade, I counted from the day Google released the Froyo source code - June 23 - for all devices that were on the market by that point. For devices that launched after June 23, when Froyo was already available, I used the phone's launch date as its starting point. I considered the first date that an over-the-air rollout was observed to be each device's 'upgrade date'. And finally, phones that launched with Froyo preinstalled were not included in this analysis, as the upgrade in question would not have been applicable to them (and we're looking here at upgrade reliability - not launching-with-the-latest-version reliability).
There are a million ways you could analyse Android upgrades. Some phones, for example, were upgraded between June and December of 2010 - but only to Android 2.1. Since those decisions were made despite the fact that Android 2.2 was readily available, I'm not factoring them into this analysis as full commitments to Android upgrading. Only phones that received Android 2.2 by the end of December 2010 - six months after the software's release - are considered 'upgraded'..
NEXT PAGE: Grading the manufacturers