What is the most effective way for me to end up with the most consumer-friendly result when purchasing an Android phone?
August 25, 2010 10:26 AM Subscribe
What is the most consumer-friendly Android phone? How does the relationship between Google, phone developers, and carriers work?
Help me understand the relationship between Google, cell phone manufacturers and U.S. cellular carriers* with regards to Android so that I can make educated purchasing decisions.
This question results from the news that Sprint is going to restrict the Android 2.2 update to only their newer phones, thus our Samsung Moment was a bad purchase because it will be stuck on Android 2.1, even though the hardware seems to support 2.2.
Specifically, I don't understand how the following work:
Who is buying Android OS from Google, the manufacturer or the carrier?
What results in the different capabilities between carriers and manufacturers? The same (rebranded) phone on different carriers may include different features. Whose decision is this, and to what extent can the differences be reduced or eliminated?
To what extent are manufacturers allowed to modify Android and remove base features, like tethering? What about the ability of carrier to do the same? Would a carrier dictate its requirements to a manufacturer, or to Google directly?
When Google develops a new update, who decides which phones are eligible for the update (besides meeting hardware requirements), and who controls that process? Are the updates publicly available to consumers for direct installation?
Which phones would be able to be re-loaded with the most-capable version of Android, and likely be able to handle updates for the longest period of time? Are any Android phones friendly to unofficial software being loaded while retaining the ability to be activated for service?
* Compared to something I do understand, like the relationship between a motherboard manufacturer, Dell, and Microsoft: where Dell cannot control what updates Microsoft makes available, nor can Dell dictate to the consumer to use a certain version of Windows, or any certain OS at all.