The perils of updating your smartphone OS

Posted by Guy Wright

I was recently thinking about smartphones and how some of them, depending on age and model, won’t let you update the OS. Now some may think this poses a problem, but frankly, I wonder.

First off, how many people even want to update their smart phone OS? Okay, I’m sure that a number of readers here do care about which OS version their device is running and some of them have gone to the trouble of updating it upon occasion.

Updating your smartphone OSBut I believe that the majority of people out there don’t even know (or really care) what OS version they are using. Just as long as they can download the occasional app without jumping through too many hoops they’re satisfied. And, since so many apps are a bit wonky to begin with, nobody blames the OS when they encounter problems.

Now I haven’t seen any statistics about this but I would bet that most people out there who really care about having the latest and greatest OS also tend to replace their devices on a fairly regular basis. I’m guessing that a good percentage of smartphone owners get new phones every year and some of them more often than that.

Of course tablet owners might not replace their devices quite as often (and laptop and desktop owners tend to keep their devices for years), but it seems like everyone who owns a tablet got one because they were the coolest, next new technology and now they can’t wait to get the next, cooler and newer version. Remember, iPad owners start salivating every time Cupertino has another new product announcement and can’t wait to get their hands on whatever new thing Apple comes out with.

I also keep thinking about my daughter’s smartphone use (and abuse). A few months after she got one of her first phones (when she was younger, of course) she came to me and said, ‘This phone is stupid!’ I asked her why and she said, ‘It doesn’t work! I dropped it in the toilet yesterday and now it doesn’t work anymore!’

Stupid phone! Imagine, just because she dropped it in the toilet it stopped working! I had to laugh…and then I had to buy her a new phone.

Now that she’s older she pays for her own phones and phone bills but that doesn’t mean she takes any better care of her phones. Over the past two or three years I think she has gone though half a dozen phones. They get lost, sat upon, dropped (over and over and over again), scratched, and cracked.

Or she decides she doesn’t like this or that aspect of the thing – the keypad doesn’t work the way she wants, it’s too heavy, the battery doesn’t last long enough, she doesn’t like the camera, or she wants it to do something that her friend’s new phone does. More often than not, she gets a new phone simply
because her service provider sends her an email saying that she’s eligible for a new free phone. Even if she’s happy with her current phone she still orders a new one, and when it arrives she either keeps it for a few months or sends it back for a different one for one reason or another.

She goes through so many phones that she can swap out SIM cards and activate services as adroitly as one of the kids down at Radio Shack. I don’t think she even knows what OS she has and it doesn’t really matter since she’s probably going to get a new phone in the next few months anyway, and it will probably have the latest OS already installed when she gets it.

I tend to hang on to devices (and OSs) until well past their expiration dates but I too fall prey to the siren call of ‘you’re eligible for a new free phone!’ so I’m never really too far behind the curve. And I know I need a new laptop so one of these days I will break down and buy one. (But I will grumble about the fact that some of my programs will no longer work and how I don’t like the way they rearranged things in the latest version of this or that.)

Technology is a lot like riding roller coasters (apart from the obvious ups and downs and unexpected turns). When you are young you want to ride in the first car, as you get older that becomes less important, and finally, when you get old enough, you just want to shuffle off and sit in the shade somewhere while the youngsters go round and round again.