After much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the fact that mobile frequency bands in Montreal are not compatible with the old, trusty workhorse of a cellphone (HTC Diamond) I brought along from Norway and would only allow me to use it in 2G mode, I finally bit the proverbial bullet and shelled out for a new cellphone (in fact, I ended up shelling out for two, since the service provider refused to sell me a SIM-card and subscription without also selling me a phone, and the phone I wanted wasn’t in stock, and they would not let me order one…*shakes head in a mixture of wonder and disgust at the way business is being done in Montreal, and at stupidity of self*)
Anyway, the phone I was after eventually came back into stock, and the Google Nexus One (N1, for short), is a pretty darn decent smart-phone. Large, nice touchscreen (mine has the SLCD one), excellent camera with LED flash, extra mic for noise-cancellation, fancy Android operating system, access to more than 160 000 downloadable applications from the Android Market, etc and so forth. All that jazz. It’s even possible to call people with it, and send messages and stuff. Pretty cool.
One of the main reasons why I bought this particular phone – even though it’s not the newest of the new, not the fastest of the fast, not the slickest of the sli…actually it is pretty slick – is because this phone (and its kin) is amongst the first phones to receive updates and fixes to the Android operating system directly from Google whenever those updates become available.
Imagine my frustration, then, at discovering that my cellphone provider actually blocks the official Android updates from being pushed (fancy buzzword, wooh!) to N1 phones bought through them and operated on their mobile network. Apparently they want to make sure that the updates don’t “break” anything for their customers or their network before making the updates available. I guess that might be seen as admirable by some, but it also makes one of the reasons for why I bought the phone redundant. Android updates are in general being pushed out by the phone producers only after extensive testing, in many cases causing the customers to be stuck with old versions of the operation system (1.6) and potentially not receiving updates at all when the phones go “out of date”, as the producers want to focus on newer, flashier phones. I had hopes to avoid those situations by buying a Nexus One, but apparently my hopes were naive and unrealistic.
So far I’ve only missed two Android updates – one (3 1/2 weeks ago) which fixes a WiFi-connection issue that affects me both at home and at work, and another (yesterday) with updates to various system applications. A larger Android update – version 2.3 aka “Gingerbread” – is also on its way, and will probably be here before Christmas. Normally, as a Nexus One user, I should expect to have access to this Android-update shortly after it’s been officially released – but at the rate of updates I’m receiving through my service provider it does not bode well.
However! All is not yet lost. The phone comes unlocked, root access is available by the snap of a couple of fingers, ROMs and kernels can be flashed, and I can basically circumvent my service-provider and install the Android updates myself. Additionally I can install user-developed mods, hacks and feature-additions (hidden hardware features such as FM radio, 720p video recording, even CPU overclocking).
Still, it is a pain in the ass to be forced to jump through such hoops to get hold of updates that many other Nexus One owners have already gotten with no hassles, when all that is stopping me from getting them sent to my phone and installed automagically is the “helpful” attitude of my Canadian mobile service provider.