There’s a common theme in Android, one that crept up — and has remained ever since — following the OS’s initial release in 2008: Fragmentation. The word, and what it represents in the Android community, is toxic. It means not getting the latest iteration of Android, even eight months after it has been released. Worse, some relatively new devices can fall generations behind. But it can easily be avoided. Just get a Nexus-branded device.
The Nexus is the only Android device you should buy if want to guarantee you’ll get Jelly Bean, or Key Lime Pie (or whatever it’ll be called). I often get asked, “Jon, when is my device getting Ice Cream Sandwich?” I don’t know, and neither do most manufacturers.
A lot of companies attach time tables to upgrade paths, but their estimates are sketchy at best due to all the variables involved. They have to add their own UI overlay, and then get approval by carriers, etc., etc. With the Nexus, you’ll get the next OS on or around Google’s announcement.
That’s not to say a device like the One X or Galaxy S III isn’t good. It’s just that, when you purchase a device like that, buy it for what it offers right now, not what it might offer a year down the road. Something like the Galaxy S III, which ships with Ice Cream Sandwich, might not get Jelly Bean until next year. By then, a better, newer device running Jelly Bean straight out of the box will almost certainly arrive anyway.
I abhor Android’s fragmentation problem as much as the next guy, but it’s easily avoidable. The current Nexus is admittedly old in the tech world, but it’s still a fantastic device that has the latest and most up-to-date software. That’s why, in a market full of wonderful Android devices, the Nexus is ultimately the only device you should consider if you want to run Google’s latest OS.