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Updated: June 14, 2013 12:38 IST

Old wine in new bottles? Not quite

Karthik Subramanian
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Sony Mobiles has stated in its official blog that Sony Xperia U, currently retailing in stores, will not be getting the Android Jelly Bean (4.2) upgrade in the coming weeks unlike some other phones in the series. Quite a few who got the handset recently are disappointed Photo: By Special Arrangement
Sony Mobiles has stated in its official blog that Sony Xperia U, currently retailing in stores, will not be getting the Android Jelly Bean (4.2) upgrade in the coming weeks unlike some other phones in the series. Quite a few who got the handset recently are disappointed Photo: By Special Arrangement

When it comes to gadgets, the ‘old wine in new bottle’ adage does not make sense. Karthik Subramanian finds out that several mobiles retailing off the shelves might already be outdated in terms of the latest software available

Old adages don’t go hand in hand with new technologies. And these are times when even a six-month technology is considered to be legacy.

Take the case of HTC Desire HD mobile phone. It was the company’s flagship phone when it was launched two years ago, a premium purchase, at the time. So you can imagine the angst of S. Dinakaran, a technology enthusiast today, when the phone has not just become obsolete but also finds little or no value in the exchange market. “It was HTC's best selling, flagship phone in the market. I thought since it was a flagship phone, I would get regular OS upgrades. I got one OS upgrade to Gingerbread but after that I have not received any upgrade,” he says.

Two years since, nothing much has changed. Even mobile phones launched last year by leading vendors such as Sony, HTC and Samsung are not guaranteed to be hardware-ready for the latest Android operating system Jelly Bean. There are plenty of features in Jelly Bean (4.1 and 4.2) that are not there in Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) that makes missing it quite a big deal among technology enthusiasts. Notable improvements in Jelly Bean include the ‘Project Butter’ that makes the user interface highly responsible and as far as Google is concerned, its new digital assistant Google Now, which has been voted by Popular Science Magazine as the “innovation of the year 2012,” has received favourable reviews over Apple’s Siri as the must-have digital assistant for mobile phones. Google Now debuted on the Nexus 4 phone designed by the company, and can run only on mobiles that have Jelly Bean loaded.

Handsets receiving upgrades

Last month, Sony posted on its official mobile blog — blogs.sonymobile.com — a list of handsets launched in 2012 that are slated to receive the Jelly Bean upgrade — “First up, the upgrade plans for Xperia T, Xperia TX and Xperia V are progressing as planned — these smartphones will start receiving Jelly Bean during February and March. Next up, Xperia P, Xperia J and Xperia go will be upgraded from the end of March. Then Xperia S, Xperia SL, Xperia ion and Xperia acro S will follow in the subsequent weeks.”

What caused concern to many enthusiasts was the addendum to the post. “The decision has been taken not to upgrade Xperia U, Xperia miro, Xperia tipo, and Xperia sola beyond Android 4.0.”

Several users were not amused that phones like Xperia U and Xperia Sola, which they purchased just weeks back, were missing in the plan of action.

Likewise a list has leaked on the Internet which is supposed to be that of the phones from HTC that are going to get the Jelly Bean upgrade. Prominent technology blogs such as GSM Arena and Android Authority noted that various variants of HTC One X and One S are slated to receive the upgrades in the coming weeks. However HTC Desire X, a handset released a few months back with 768 MB of RAM, has been left out. This defies reason and logic for several users who have purchased the phone in recent weeks.

An alternative

One alternative that some power users opt for is “rooting the phone” where they use third-party ROM upgrades on the phone, leaving the manufacturer warranty void. There are several websites that offer such ROM mods. Experienced user Vishal Dharankar, however, does not recommend rooting the mobile phones for all users. “It is something that experienced users do to just have fun upgrading their phones and doing things that the manufacturer did not intend the device to do. However, this might sometimes make the phone behave a bit erratic. If someone has valuable data on phone, then they better not try it,” he added.

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