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Summary:

Motorola explained why certain smartphones and tablets it makes won’t be getting the Google Android 4.0 software update. Not all Motorola device owners are happy though; especially those that bought a Droid 3 in the past 10 months. These folks are stuck on Android 2.3.

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In a blog post Friday, Motorola explained why certain smartphones and tablets it makes won’t be getting the Google Android 4.0 software update. This follows a helpful post two months prior that the company published in order to add greater transparency to its update process. But the not all Motorola device owners are happy with the latest news. I can’t say I blame them; especially those that bought a Motorola Droid 3 in the past 10 months. These folks are stuck on Android 2.3.

Here’s what Motorola has shared about the the lack of updates for some devices:

“You may be wondering why all devices aren’t being upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Here’s the deal. We work very closely with Google and cell phone carriers for every software update. And, obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done—well then, we’re not able to upgrade that particular device.

This stated reason is an example of precisely why I implored Google earlier this month to take greater control over Android in some way. It will reportedly be doing so as last week, reports of multiple Nexus device partners surfaced. And just this weekend, China approved Google’s acquisition of Motorola, paving the way for Google to own one of its Android hardware partners.

If you have a Motorola device and you’re wondering when or if you’ll see the Ice Cream Sandwich update, Motorola maintains the updated list here. I was surprised to see the Droid 3 not on the upgrade list, as were some commenters to Motorola’s recent post.

Why? Because the Droid 3 launched in July of 2011. That’s significant because at the Google I/O developer event just two months prior, Google announced a new partner initiative to allow all new devices to get Android updates for 18 months, “as long as the hardware allows.”

The quoted bit is the likely issue with Android 4.0 on the Droid 3. Although the device has a high-resolution 960 x 540 display, dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor and 16 GB of internal storage, it only has 512 MB of RAM. I suspect the limited memory is the problem here.

That’s not to say Android 4.0 can’t run on 512 MB of RAM or less; the enthusiast community can probably make it work. But Motorola won’t invest the time and effort to do the same. So like some of the commenters to its blog post suggest, Motorola should unlock the bootloaders of these phones to allow device owners to install custom ROMs. Of course, Verizon might have some say in the matter and sadly keep it from happening.

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  1. A lot of this is the result of the rapid pace that Moto themselves released phones last year. Heck the Droid 3 wasn’t even a year old when the 4 was released. Same thing happened to the Droid 2.

    Maybe this is why things like NE2 are being stopped. Maybe Verizon and others are anticipating an end of the subsidized model. I know that I will LIKELY keep my Nexus as long as possible AND try not to go to another subsidized device because of the data caps. I was lucky enough to get unlimited on my Nexus and I don’t want to give that up as with 4G it’s EASY to use up 2 and even 4 Gig of bandwidth within DAYS. With the speeds of 4G, Data caps don’t make much sense to me.

  2. I’ve already let Motorola know how displeased I am that my Photon will be nearly a year old by the time it’s updated to ICS when Razors that are out months will be getting it first. I’m glad to ts being updated but shouldn’t take so long.

  3. I can’t even get my 12 month old Motorola phone updated past Android 2.2, Moto has flat out said they wont update it anymore.

  4. ICS runs fine on a Kindle Fire with a custom ROM with the exact same hardware but higher resolution. Motorola needs to lay off the custom skins which take up RAM and slow down performance.

  5. Divergent Trend Monday, May 21, 2012

    This mess is exactly why I bought a Galaxy Nexus. Although the future remains to be seen, I’m current and glad of it.

  6. This is one of the reasons I refuse to buy a phone that is ‘promised’ to get upgrade X. I just don’t have the trust any more.

    I will also NEVER buy a tablet with 3G, 4G or any cell phone service. I’m tired of watching the carriers drag their feet on any updates. It was amazing to me to find that the Motorola Zoom WiFi edition got updated to ICS rather quickly. Would you like to know how the Zoom 3G/4G model is with the updates? You guessed it, still waiting! I have a few choice words for Verizon, but I rather guess we all know what those would be ….

  7. “we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done” – is complete poppy cock. People have been rooting their devices and installing ICS roms on older phones for MONTHS. Is motorola saying that all of these people are willingly ruining their own experience?

    Saying it can’t be done is patently absurd.

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