A few weeks after launch in Australia, questions are beginning to arise over the situation on the latest firmware update for the Nokia Lumia 800. Here at WPDownUnder, we have been maintaining a launch matrix – documenting all the pricing, availability and information any prospective Nokia Lumia buyer needs to ensure they get the best deal and perfectly paired phone to their network of choice. As local retailers have begun stocking and supplying Lumia’s to the marketplace, the subject of who is – and isn’t – getting the latest firmware update to deliver the best Nokia Lumia 800 experience is an interesting one we wanted to expand on a little.
* * * UPDATED see below * * *
Firmware and OS updates are important for modern smartphones – as not only do they often deliver new or enhanced features – but they also address minor (or even major) bugfixes to iron out hiccups with a new devices performance. In the case of Windows Phone (like Android) – the subject of updates has been a contentious one. Microsoft has delivered significant software updates like NoDo (Apr2011) and Mango (Nov2011) to improve the operation of WIndows Phone. Likewise, OEM partners like HTC and Samsung have also issued firmware updates to address issues or extend feature compatibility to their specific Windows Phone devices.
However – software updates for Smartphones (with the exception of Apple and iOS) are Carrier Approved. This means that the firmware or OS updates are submitted by OEM’s and Microsoft to the Telco’s (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and VirginMobile in Australia) for approval before hitting consumer’s handsets. The carriers undertake final testing to ensure the updates do not negatively impact their network performance and ensure quality control (and to check their Apps/Network configs are all still in working order).
This point has proved contentious over the past 18m. Some carriers have chosen to miss updates (not approve them for release) – or delayed their testing and approval by many months from the release by other Telco’s. Typically engagement on the state of updates to their customers has been poor – and even Microsoft’s own efforts to manage and report the status of Telco updates was halted last year (likely due to carrier pressure). Overseas and even here in the past, concerns arose over the possibility that Carrier’s were more interested in pushing new handsets with the latest updates than approve for release said same updates for existing handsets in use in customers hands.
This has led many smartphone or tech enthusiasts to look to purchase handsets that are not only unlocked (can be used on any supported carrier – not just the one it is sold via) – but also UNBRANDED device. An unbranded device has no carrier changes to the OEM/Microsoft OS – so no Carrier splash screen, no Carrier Apps or other changes…often negatively portrayed as “bloatware”. Importantly – an unbranded handset in theory is also supposed to get device OS and firmware updates more quickly – as they are not subject to the carrier approval process (min. 3 weeks delay) in order to receive their updates.
So what’s the relevance I here you ask?
At the time of writing – Nokia Australia has yet to confirm the availability of the 12070 firmware update for their Lumia 800 devices. This important OEM update is reported by WPCentral as delivering:
- Enhanced battery standby and talk time performance
- Battery capacity icon instead of question mark on top right of screen
- Improved bass in audio performance
- Soft-key illumination at all brightness levels
- Fixes for device performance issues including self-reboots, freezes and call-ending
These are significant improvements – and by all accounts make the Lumia 800 a 100% rock-solid experience in daily use – to complement the brilliant design and engineering hardware experience and amazing Windows Phone OS UI.
Despite no confirmed release dates – and no unbranded device receipt of the update as yet – increasingly Brand-New-In-The-Box retail devices sold outright now or on plans today via selected outlets today are seeing 12070 firmware based Lumia 800′s hitting customers hands. Whether it’s via Telstra (who apparently demanded the latest update before launching the device) – or through their retail re-seller partner JB-HiFi, Dick Smith Electronics (exclusively reported first here at WPDownUnder) or via online stores like mobileciti.com – the 12070 based latest firmware models are being sold right now.
And yet unbranded devices (not subject to a carrier approval process) still do not have this update in Australia. It all seems to be “arse about”. WPDownUnder has repeatedly put this question to Nokia Australia – and is still awaiting a reply.
It’s a strange turn of events. If you have any information on this matter – be sure to let us know. As soon as we have any news we will be sure to report it back here – but until then, we will wait with everyone else – for the 12070 update to be pushed to Australian customers.
And don’t forget you can get all your carrier software update status from WPDownUnder’s exclusive “Where’s my Update?” pages for Australia, New Zealand and the US LINK.
* * * UPDATE * * *
Thanks to Nokia Australia for providing this official reply to our post above:
“PR1.2 is the current software version on Nokia Lumia 800’s being sold through Telstra and its partners.
Customers who have purchased a Nokia Lumia 800 through other channels will need to check if their handset has the latest PR1.2 update -1600.2487.8107.12070. To check, simply go to settings>about>more information>firmware revision number.
For those who do not have the latest Nokia Lumia 800 PR1.2 software, an update will be available in the coming weeks. We appreciate your patience and will provide more information as soon as we can.”
Some final musings based on Nokia’s reply today. We smartphone enthusiasts tend to be an impatient lot. Knowing software updates are imminent or partially available - especially ones that optimise the customer experience of a particular device – can whip up a frenzy of social media commentary. In the wider context, it’s worth pausing for a moment and considering that this is a unique time for Windows Phone in Australia. Never before have we experienced the blanket availability of a WP7 handset like that of the Nokia Lumia range – launched really only a maximum of 3 weeks ago. Furthermore, the Lumia 800 marks a first for Australia – in that it is available on a widespread basis (DSE and other selected resellers) as an “open channel” or Unbranded device. This has never before been the case for a local Windows Phone release.
With Nokia’s committment (reinforced in their statement above) to Windows Phone in Australia – along with accompanying software updates…users that have devices will face only a small wait for internal processes between OEM’s and Microsoft - before seeing 12070 pushed via their Zune software to their devices. We know that Vodafone have already publicly confirmed their testing of this update, and the remaining carriers are probably in a similar position for branded devices.
Some of the difficulty in putting the whole software update process into the perspective that Microsoft might want us to have remains the general lack of transparency to the public on this process. However WPDownUnder readily acknowledges that the complexity of this process between all parties and devices and the necessary checks and balances to ensure the right updates get to the correct phone aligned optimally to the right networks for best performance, makes for a very challenging iterative activity to ever externalise simply.
At the end of the article (I hate people who use “at the end of the day”!) – it’s important to realise that those that do not have the 12070 update just yet will not have long to wait!