Ask LH: My Phone OS Never Gets Updated. Can I Get Out Of My Contract?

Dear Lifehacker, Having purchased the Samsung Galaxy S3 from Optus in May/June last year, I was excited when Samsung released Android Jelly Bean for it in September. Cue five months later and Optus still hasn't released the update for my phone.

Other networks, including Telstra, Virgin, and Vodafone have already released them. I've been advised that I can't root the phone or put a custom ROM on as that voids my warranty, but can I use this lacklustre service to cancel my contract? I have 16 months remaining on my contract, but really, what's the point of sticking with a provider when my phone doesn't get updated? Thanks, Jellybean Fan.

Dear JF,

It seems you're in luck in regards to the OS update: a quick perusal of Optus' Android device OS availability page confirms the Samsung Galaxy S3 is currently packing Android version 4.1.2. To update the phone, just enter 'Settings' and scroll down to the 'About Device' button. Then press 'Software Update' and follow the prompts.

As to whether you can break your contract due to the non-appearance of an OS update, the answer is probably not. It's highly doubtful that the contract you signed made any guarantees about handset updates, so the telco technically hasn't done anything wrong. On the plus side, at least you have Jelly Bean on your phone now.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    As an official Samsung Update, I think Samsung would have a very hard time arguing that their software could void your warranty anyway. Just use another carrier's ROM.

    If a salesman told you it was getting Jelly Bean, and it didn't, you could probably make a case for it under the Australian Consumer Law. If Optus published a brochure that said the phone had or was getting Jelly bean (and it didn't), you could argue that too. Unfortunately, they're not liable for *your* expectations of what the update schedule would be, but they are for the ones that they created in your head.

    Wait, so Android phones on subsidised carrier contracts rely on the carrier for software updates, and can't get them directly from Google or at least their manufacturer? Yikes. As an iPhone user who is currently thinking about making the jump to Android when my contract is up, that's a serious tick in the cons box for Android, along with skinned interfaces and bloatware apps. Part of me kind of wishes Google would do away with the Nexus program and take another page from Apple's book and fully absorb Motorolla Mobility and use them to make official Google phones, and lots of them.

      Nexus phones get the updates straight away, or at least I do.

        Yeah, I'd like to go with a Nexus if possible, but so far they've all had pretty meagre storage capacity. These days I need at least 64GB.

      Ah but as a iPhone user you are used to the bloatiest of bloatware, iTunes, so anything you feel is negative will not really matter to you.

      Everyone who Jailbreaks their phone all install their own updates and roms anyway.

        Wow you're living in the past. You don't even need iTunes, and haven't for a while now.

        Actually i find iphone apps tend to be smaller than their counterparts. The have less variability to worry about.. And their apps are closer to the metal

      You can still make the jump - just get an unsubsidised phone, because you get the updates as soon as the manufacturers release them. No more waiting for the carriers to test to see if their hardly used apps work. The carrier OS sometimes make it difficult to switch carriers years later (maybe not important for you if you change phones, but might make it less attractive if you offload it to someone else, or try to use it overseas with another carrier). There are plenty of inexpensive Android phones out there to make the buy-in worth it.

      Correct. The vast majority of Android handsets never receive an update AT ALL or maybe one if you are lucky. Even if you do, it will probably be on average 12 months late.
      The security implications are sobering.. you are walking around with a tiny computer in your pocket that never gets patches or maybe once if you're lucky.
      The other thing to keep in mind is that iOS apps are frequntly better quality than corresponding Android apps.
      I made the mistake of jumping from iOS to Androud 18 months ago & have regreted it.
      Android is for geek phone hackers, the gullible or those wanting the cheapest.
      You will regret it.

        Ah, spread the iSheep manure. Doesn't actually sound like you've had an Android phone at all.

        I do not really agree that someone would regret having an android. I have an ipad and a 60$ android running an older os. No regrets though. It works great. Never a lost call and but for a few apps i can say it is quite stable.
        I being a mobile programmer do tend to see better quality in iphone apps, but that is because they have a closed system. Its easier to write for em because of this... But it is also limiting

        Android apps are being built that match and rival iphone because... They can.

        My phone is not rooted, and has never seen an upgrade.. So what? It works and works and works. Did i mention 60$

        Well no need to let the truth get in the way of a perfectly good troll post.
        BTW - which are you; gullible, geek hacker or a cheapskate?

          Well done Kato, you are so busy being a troll yourself you actually replied to the iPhone lover.

          If you can't use a blog, a smartphone would be lost on you.

    I grabbed the S3 from Kogan for my other half on Christmas. Not only did it updated to JB after unboxing, but it's received the last few updates shortly after official releases since.

    That being said My S2 is through Optus. I remember they released an ICS update early last year then back tracked as it missed some key bloatware they hadn't yet added. Any update delay is usually just so they can add their own bloatware (Optus apps) to it. And with most large carriers time between updates can be quite long compared to official manufacturer releases.
    I quickly got jack of it so rooted it, and have been going custom Rom since. Even bumped it up to JB as a result (Resurrection Remix JB).

    I would argue on the basis of security. Both new security features as well as bug fixes / security updates. Once more malware starts making its way to phones, telco companies holding off on known fixes could be an interesting case.

    Not saying you would be successful but that's how I would go :)

    Plus I think companies stating that it 'voids our warranty' doesn't actually mean very much, they would not have to provide support, but a physical fault is still a physical fault. If I could find the article (I'm pretty sure it was on here) in regards to warranty, it pretty much says that your legal warranty is based more on an expectation of feature / performance based on the cost.

    The example used (from memory) is that 12 month warranty on a $20,000 TV would not having any bearing as you would reasonably expect the set to last MUCH longer than 12 months.

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