It seems that Sony Mobile wants you to think long and hard before you consider upgrading your 2011 Xperia from Gingerbread to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Sony has issued a revised timelinein terms of ICS update schedule earlier today, but what we found interesting is that Sony Mobile will not be sending handset notifications about the update, neither will they allow OTA updates. If you want to install ICS, it will have to be at your computer.
In a developer blog post, Sony Mobile has given a lot of detail on how ICS differs to Gingerbread and how this will affect the 2011 Xperia range. Ultimately users need to choose between two scenarios: 1) Carry on running Gingerbread which is very stable with “great performance” or 2) update to ICS which will bring new features but the flipside being greater drain on both CPU and memory resources that may impact the user experience.
We have to commend Sony Mobile for being so open about the potential impact of the ICS update on older devices, however if you read through the full post it almost puts you off wanting to upgrade. They cite several factors that are likely to slow the phone down including increased RAM usage, slower interaction with the SQL database and even hardware acceleration, which we had always assumed should speed things up!
One curious point is that when Sony talks about RAM usage this is what they say: “Our 2011 Xperia phones have 512MB RAM, while ICS was developed targeting a phone with 1GB RAM“. This does make us wonder why the 2012 Xperia U and Xperia sola phones both have 512MB RAM, it’s almost saying to users that these phones may run laggy and writing them off before they’ve even launched. Of course, the dual-core processors should help in terms of performance but it’s a strange statement to make nonetheless.
It’s not all bad news though, ICS will bring about a number of new features that is likely to outweigh the possible performance hit. Sony talks about the new Holo theme and modifying over a thousand icons to accommodate the new look. Other features include the activity manager, which allows you to close an app process by swiping it away, face unlock, visual voicemail and updated contacts & calendar.
For those interested in the details, the developer postis well worth a read. Sony Mobile is being quite open about possible performance issues which is a good thing and remember they are only one of the few companies who is updating their entire 2011 Android catalogue to ICS. Yes the small delay in rollout is disappointing, but we would rather it would be this way than releasing buggy firmware earlier.