Sony: Android Jelly Bean for new Xperia phones, no update for older models


Sony Mobile has pledged to update all of its 2012 Xperia branded smartphones to run Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jelly Bean, but said the upgrade will not extend to Xperia models produced prior to this year.

The new Xperia T and TX as well as the forthcoming Xperia V will upgrade to Android Jelly Bean sometime "from mid-Q1 2013" forward, according to the Sony Xperia Product Blog. The global versions of the Xperia S, Acro S, Ion, P, Go and J also are in line for Android Jelly Bean: "We will be back with detailed timings for these in due course," Sony states, noting that the availability and rollout timing will vary by market and customer variants.

Sony also confirmed what many customers feared: Its 2011 Xperia portfolio will remain stuck on Android 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. "After thorough evaluation, we have concluded they will not be upgraded," Sony said. "Beyond Ice Cream Sandwich we would not be able to guarantee owners of these smartphones the user experience you expect and we demand. We will, however, continue to support all these products with firmware maintenance releases."

The future of the 2011 Xperia line grew cloudy this summer after a Sony Mobile GB spokesperson participating in a Q&A on the unit's Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) page revealed "Unfortunately [Xperia] Arc S won't be getting the Jelly Bean update, but we're always developing new phones and making sure they get the latest updates." The spokesperson subsequently added "The Xperia Mini Pro won't be getting Jelly Bean."

Sony Mobile denied the assertions and maintained the local spokesperson had spoken in error. "We are actively investigating Android OS upgrades for all devices, but in the meantime, our Ice Cream Sandwich rollout for Xperia S and 2011 Xperia smartphones continues as planned," the manufacturer said.

Android Jelly Bean, unveiled in late June during Google's annual I/O developer conference, promises a smoother and more responsive UI across the system, highlighted by triple buffering in the graphics pipeline for more consistent rendering as well as synchronized touch to reduce latency. Jelly Bean also brings a revamped homescreen that automatically adapts to fit content along with Google Now, which includes personalized information like local weather and traffic updates. 

According to Google's Android Developers dashboard, Android Jelly Bean currently powers just 1.8 percent of all devices worldwide. Samsung Electronics has pledged to update 16 devices in its portfolio to run Jelly Bean. HTC will upgrade its One series products in turn, and LG Electronics has vowed to overhaul some of its Optimus smartphones as well. Google-owned Motorola Mobility has promised to upgrade most post-2011 devices to Jelly Bean and will offer a $100 credit to consumers who purchased some newer phones that are not in line for the update.

In related news, Sony Corporation said Friday it will cut a fifth of its staff, slashing its global headcount by 10,000 by mid-March. The electronics giant also will shutter a Japanese manufacturing facility dedicated to producing mobile phones and camera lenses.

For more:
- read this Sony Xperia Product Blog entry
- read this Reuters article

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