Revolting against planned obsolescence.

I bought my first smartphone – an HTC Desire – about 5 years ago. The reviews lauded how it was excellent value and cutting edge technology. CNET gave it 9.5 out of 10. The first thing I think I learnt about the reviewers is that they don’t download many apps to try a new phone. The HTC Desire only had 147 MB of space for apps after their immovable bloatware was installed and I filled that up quickly with my thirst for trying out new apps. I moved all the apps possible to my SD card, but there weren’t many apps that allowed themselves to be moved there. I had paid top dollar for a smartphone that couldn’t allow more than a handful of apps!

I couldn’t afford to buy another smartphone and I was happy with its performance otherwise, so the HTC remained my  only smartphone for 3 years. By that time I had problems downloading some apps regardless of space as they wouldn’t work with Android 2.1.  After my Yahoo app complained my version of Android was out of date, and I couldn’t upgrade it, it was time to retire the HTC from my day to day life. I love the feel and look of the HTC, and still have it.

HTC Desire


Entrance a second hand (from my primary school son!) Samsung GT 18262. Loads of space for new apps – I haven’t found its limit yet. What a wonderful feeling! It has a sharp, large 4.3” screen and fast scrolling.  It suited me well and I didn’t want any of the more advanced features of the flagship mobile phones. I thought it would last me for a few years.

Until I couldn’t download an app a few weeks ago. The Samsung has only updated to Android Jelly Bean (4.2.1) missed out on Lollipop (5.0), and now, Marshmallow (6.0).  So the two and a half year old Samsung is on the edge of obsolescence even though it is in perfect working order.

Samsung GT 18262

Samsung GT 18262

In this one area, I have to congratulate Apple on its updates. My daughter’s iPad 2 still gets updates and it came out in 2011. The iPhone 4 is also still getting updates and it came out in 2011 as well. Of course Apple only has to worry about its own mobile devices, Android has a multitude of devices to be compatible with.

Compare that to my computers. My main desktop has an Intel Core2 Duo E4600 CPU which was released in 2007. That is a 9 year old computer. It runs Windows 10 – the latest version. It can also run the latest Linux software. There are also 6 year old HP and Toshiba laptops in my family that run the latest Windows and Linux software.

I understand that Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc want to sell as many mobiles as possible and also need to differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing their own take on what experience a mobile phone should be like. It is this customisation that seems to be the main excuse for the inability to update.  Why would the mobile phone companies devote valuable programming expertise on tweaking the coding of old phones, already sold, to enable them to update to the latest Android? No profit in that, surely? No, not in the short term. However, you can only play your customers for suckers for so long before they rebel.

The only Android phones that are likely to last past a three year death are the Nexus line. While the 2012 Nexus 4 doesn’t officially get a Marshmallow update there are some Android developers who have ensured that phone will get the latest release – as will Nexus 1. So my next phone is going to be a Nexus.

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