Time for a new Droid?
October 2, 2012 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Android question: Despite the fact that it is now owned by the Google itself, Motorola has decided that my Android (Atrix 4G) will not be upgraded to the Ice Cream Sandwich OS (which isn't even the most recent OS). Is it time to change phones?

I'm generally happy with my phone, but I feel a bit cheated that the manufacturer is withholding its full functionality from me. My only major complaints with the phone, aside from the lack of upgrades, are
  • its keyboard is difficult for me to use accurately
  • when the phone sleeps, the wireless does too, and it sometimes takes 20 seconds after waking it up to get either a wireless signal or data connection (this is a Known Thing with the Atrix)
  • camera quality is so-so
I'm not sure whether it's worth shelling out a couple hundred bucks (contract extension) for a new phone. I guess I'm looking to be sold one way or the other. If I were to get a new phone, how would my experience improve? And which would be the best bang for the buck, in terms of current experience, and longevity? I'm happy with the Android platform and have no intentions of going iPhone, by the way.

I'm normally not one of those people who needs to have the newest and latest toy, and I'd generally keep this one around until it wore out, but the upgrade thing is kind of pissing me off.
posted by mudpuppie to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You might consider installing CyanogenMod if you want to get the latest version of the Android operating system on your existing phone. This will void your warranty, but maybe your warranty has expired already anyway.

I feel a bit cheated that the manufacturer is withholding its full functionality from me.

I'm not sure this is entirely fair—it's not like they can just flip a switch and give you Jelly Bean. The manufacturer has to spend a lot of effort and money to get an update working and tested, and then deal with the consequent support requirements (CyanogenMod does this with volunteer labor). The lack of after-purchase support is something to consider before buying another phone from Motorola, though.

If you want to stick with Android, only get a Nexus phone. If you get a non-Nexus Android phone, you are more likely to experience this state of affairs in the future.
posted by grouse at 9:13 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your phone is no less functional than it was before this announcement. If you were satisfied with it yesterday, nothing has actually changed since then.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:14 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If upgrades are a moderately big deal to you (and they are to me), I'd recommend a Nexus device. The Galaxy Nexus can purchased straight from Google and always gets upgrades right away. It's my 3rd android device and it's great, though it's at the end of its cycle. There's word that a new one will out within a couple months though, so you might want to wait for that.
posted by switchsonic at 9:15 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have an older phone running Android 2.2 (I think I could upgrade it to 2.3 if I really wanted to). I don't really feel that it's any less functional than a device running the most modern Android OS - all the apps I need/want still work.

I think the other issues you mention would be bigger dealbreakers for me. I wonder if this is a 'straw that broke the camel's back' situation?
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

A nice thing about android is you are able to install different keyboards. There are many keyboards availible but I like Swiftkey or Swype much better than the stock keyboards.

I feel your pain with Moto's failure to follow through on a promised upgrade, I had a Cliq XT which was denied a promised upgrade to 2.1 and instead left on 1.5 which was lacking many features that more modern android builds feature. In my phone's case community coders were eventually able to get Cyanogenmod working on the phone which helped a bunch.
posted by Harpocrates at 9:31 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a freedom-loving open source-loving Google loyalist who finally got sick of the same situation and switched vendors. Yes. To the one that loyalists always fight about with Android owners. I'm not going to mention the brand since I'm not here to fight about it, just provide my perspective that the upgrades issue was for me the straw that broke the camel's back - that upgrades were not available and not going to be available to me for my Android device. I also waited for my contract to expire and have signed up with a completely new carrier.
posted by kalessin at 9:32 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have swiftkey (Amazon App of the Day) on my Atrix, and it is light years better than the stock keyboard.
I'd recommend it before changing to a new phone.
posted by madajb at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

For those talking about having no less functionality: Yes, that's true, but later versions of Android (particularly Jelly Bean) run much smoother than Gingerbread, you have a wider availability of apps, and often apps (including both Google's built-in and downloadable ones) have extended functionality that comes in very handy. Now, as for the OP's question...

I would have seconded grouse and suggest rooting your phone and installing CyanogenMod, but judging by your link and a quick perusal of the XDA forums for the Atrix 4G, it appears that might be a huge hassle that could possibly brick your phone. I'd nth either buying a Galaxy Nexus (which is made by Samsung) direct from Google or waiting a month or three for the next Nexus device and get it at subsidized pricing when you extend your contract.

It'll cost you a couple hundred bucks either way, but regardless of who actually makes it, you'll be good for software upgrades for the duration of the contract, with the added bonus of having a pure version of Android. They're also insanely easy to root and otherwise hack, if you're into that kind of thing. This is a hard and fast Google requirement, so even a company who likes to make upgrades or hacking difficult for their own phones must abide by the edict if they make a Nexus device. FWIW, I've had a Galaxy Nexus since they launched it, and I love it. I've basically been living this Samsung commercial with my iPhone-owning friends, and even make some of my fellow Android users a bit envious with the tweaks and added functionality of the alternate ROM (in this case, AOKP) that I use.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

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