Update policy of smartphones (Summer 2011)

Even if you are hard core fan of Windows Phone, it may be useful to know update situation with other operating systems, if not for anything else, then as a comparison with your phone or just to have something to discuss with owners of smartphones not powered by Windows Phone. Here I am presenting state of things with updates of smartphone operting systems as of Summer 2011:

=>Windows PhoneAndroidiPhone/iPad iOSBlackberrySymbian
update / Gingerbread
3.1 / Honeycomb
iOS 4.3.x 6.x Symbian 3
next major update
7.5 / Mango4.0 / Ice Cream SandwichiOS 57Symbian Anna
next major update
expected release:
Autumn/Fall of 2011end of 2011Autumn/Fall of 2011Summer 2011August 2011
which devices will get next major update?all with Windows Phone 7only few selectediPhone 3GS, iPhone 4,
iPad 1, iPad 2
only few selectedonly few selected
major new features in next major update* tiles on home screen can show dynamic content without the need to start apps
* task switch for fast app switching
* one common inbox for e-mails from various accounts
* in tiles contacts can be bounded together in groups
* speech-to-text and text-to-speech e.g. for SMS/texting and chats
* controlling user interface by movements of head
* face recognition in video chatting
* release of source code of Ice Cream Sandwich to public – to improve faster
* improved user interface for multi-tasking
* improved widgets for home screen
* simplified adaptation of apps to various screen sizes – for developers
* future updates possible also without PC/Mac – directly over Internet to device
* improved notifications for new SMS/texts, e-mails and calendar events
* built-in support for iCloud (PC-less sync + apps can save data to iCloud so e.g. iPhone and iPad version of the same app has continuity)
* improved Internet browser with faster JavaScript and support for more HTML5 elements
* voice control for local and Internet search
* much better separation of business and private data
* full version of Documents to go
* improved and faster browser
* new look and feel of menu
* improved text entry
* improved GPS navigation software
* fluent presentation of user interface
* more clear presentation of calendar


As you can see above each platform has different update policy and it looks like particularly Android has problems where only 18% of Android smartphone users are running current version of OS because Google and manufacturers have problems to deliver updates to new models. Google promises to improve the situation by introducing “18-months update guarantee” but obviously many current models will not get it.

While Apple has “cut-off model” that is no longer supported (in case of iOS 5 it is iPhone 3G because iPhone 3GS and newer are supported), it all Windows Phone 7 phones will get Mango updates.

While one can discuss (feel free use comments below!) which mobile operating system for smartphone is better or worse, the policy of updates for each of them is very much telling what approach given company has to end users. That’s why above table might be useful also for people considering to switch to other platform.

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