Will Ice Cream Sandwich Make Your Smartphone Fat?


With a lot of people up in arms about the slow uptake of Ice Cream Sandwich, is it worth considering the other side of the story? There’s got to be a reason why so many newer handsets aren’t being released with Android’s latest version, 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich – and it may even be for the good of the consumer, too. This school of thought has emerged recently after Motorola announced that not all of their handsets will be included in the ICS rollout, saying “Obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done, well, then we’re not able to upgrade that particular device.”

Earlier in the year, Sony also came out and voiced their feelings regarding Ice Cream Sandwich, saying that they were going to stick with Gingerbread for the foreseeable future. Sony’s comments were more specifically targeted at the performance of Ice Cream Sandwich, rather than any aesthetic complaints. They said that ICS is “more intensive, for example in terms of resource usage”, which means that if your phone’s RAM and processor aren’t up to speed, your phone will actually run slower on ICS than it will on Gingerbread.

They also singled out the operating system’s graphic hardware acceleration, which make graphics run more smoothly once an app is up and running, but makes the app slower to start up in the first place. There are places where this is handy – say, 3D games, which users will generally be loading in their own time, and planning to play on for a decent length of time – but also, in this grab ‘n’ go world, places where this is less than ideal. Who wants to start loading up Angry Birds at the bus stop, only to have the bus arrive before you can even attempt to attack those dastardly pigs?

Sony raise some good points; in an industry that is obsessed with ‘improvement’, it seems that only Sony have their eye firmly on quality control at the same time. (Sony also, fairly controversially, pooh-poohed the use of quad-core processors; you won’t see a quad-core Sony handset until at least 2013.) There’s no reason why Ice Cream Sandwich should be left off handsets like the HTC One X, but when budget – or even mid-range – handsets start getting updates, it’s going too far. ICS might look a lot nicer on any phone, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for it.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying unless your phone is a metaphorical cow with two stomachs – by which I mean cores – it probably can’t take Ice Cream Sandwich without getting fat, bloated and slow. The sooner manufacturers stop trying to sell operating systems to users who don’t know what they’re downloading, the better. The HTC One V has, admittedly, done very well indeed, but with a mere 1GHz single-core processor, it’s arguable that the phone isn’t all it can be, at least in terms of performance.

You can read more about the latest Ice Cream Sandwich powered HTC One X at Best Mobile Contracts.

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