Just saw an interesting chart over at the The Understatement (came across a link to it somewhere–never been there before today, but a cool site). The chart shows the support history for some popular smart phones over the last couple of years, detailing how long each phone ran the latest version of it’s operating system (Android, iOS, etc) as well as how long the device received support updates. One thing is clear: Apple’s done a great job at supporting the various iterations of the iPhone, while Google/phone manufacturers/network providers have fallen short.

I’ve been eligible for a phone upgrade since July (more about that later), but I’ve been holding out since I had figured a new iPhone was on the way soon. Along the way, I heard about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (or Nexus Prime as I knew it for a while) and figured that I’d have to wait and see whether a Google dev phone would be the way to go. Well, it’s October and I still haven’t made up my mind (and the Galaxy Nexus still isn’t out/have a US release date announced).

While I don’t have my mind made up 100%, I’ve had a bit of help over the last couple of days. First was reading a bit more about the display of the Galaxy Nexus (it’s a Pentile display, which I happen to have on my current phone–again, more on this later). Second was the Android support history chart. Both are detractors for the Android route. Here’s why:

Pentile Display

This one is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The idea behind a Pentile display is to use a different arrangement of subpixels on the display instead of the typical red, green, and blue tri-stripe square arrangement that has been used for quite a while. There are plenty of valid arguments on both sides, but in my mind it boils down to this: Pentile displays share subpixels when reproducing the pixel data as stores in an image file.

Here’s what I mean: a pixel is a small square with a specified color/intensity that represents one small portion of a larger image. On a normal RGB stripe display, that one pixel is reproduced using three sub-pixels. On a Pentile display, a set of several pixels is reproduced using a smaller set of sub-pixels than would be used on an RGB stripe display (with some of the sub-pixels being shared and used for more than one of the underlying pixels).  In theory, it shouldn’t really matter since the pixels are so small that you’re eye won’t really tell the diference (I mean I can’t usually see the three separate stripes that make up a single pixel on the RGB stripe display I’ve got on my desktop).

My current phone (a Samsung Rogue) has a Pentile AMOLED display. I’ve always noticed there was something different about it. I saw rainbow type artifacts on white, and a few other things that were a bit unusual to my eyes, such as how the edges of straight lines (white on black) aren’t actually straight like on a normal RGB stripe display. I have noticed how images seem to often have a grainy look to them (almost like increased JPEG artifacts). I had figured that was just a result of the phone possibly having a cheap display, having a first version of a new technology, or that there were oils on the screen, until I saw a comparison image and realized that what I was seeing was a natural effect of the pixel layout.

All things, considered, I’ll just have to see it in action when it arrives–that’s the best bet.  I think I’m a little unusual on the things I do notice and which of those things bug me, so I’ll just have to see it compared to the other phones in the store.

Android Update History

This graph says it all:

In general, if you bought an Android phone in the past, you had little hope of being current for more than a few months.  You had a good chance to still be under contract with a phone running an older version of its OS.  Not a huge deal (how long should manufacturers give you free updates to better software), but it’s concerning when you think of the unpactched security vulnerabilities you’re potentially going to be living with.  Verizon has good coverage, but I don’t want to be waiting on them to approve an update Google has already finished to keep my info safe.

I was going to send Verizon an email through their website to ask if they had any idea if this would be better going forward (since if I buy a phone from them and they’ve made sure it’s locked down and I’m at their mercy for updates, I assume they should be the ones held responsible).  Unfortunately, Verizon’s “Contact Us” links lead to only one direction: search the FAQs.  Real helpful.  Thanks.  “Contact Us” doesn’t mean what it used to….