After first being rolled out, then pulled in September due to unforeseen issues, Sprint has confirmed via its Buzz About Wireless forum that the LG Optimus S Android Gingerbread update will be made available in waves starting this Wednesday. This follows Sprint’s own assurances made to PhoneNews.com in November of 2011 regarding the status of the update and that it would be made available once the issues were addressed, but no one expected such a long delay.
While the update will fix issues that were present in the previous version and add additional functionality, there is still no word on such an update for the Virgin Mobile version of the phone, months after multiple reports confirmed that such an update would be made available in 2011.
The LG Optimus S and V were both Sprint’s and Virgin Mobile’s variants of the original LG Optimus One Android smartphone, which was notable for being the most well-rounded mid-range Android smartphone, spawning many carrier variants and really finding its niche on prepaid services. Sprint and Virgin Mobile rolled out their variants in early 2011 to shore up their burgeoning Android lineups to great success, with Virgin pushing the phone to an unprecedented sales success thank to the combination of unlimited data access at $25 (yet to be matched) and the lower than expected launch price of $179.99 while other prepaid versions and even the unlocked version were selling for as high as $249.99.
While Sprint eventually updated its version starting last year before suffering the setback with the bug-filled update in September, Sprint confirmed to PhoneNews.com that Virgin Mobile did not plan to offer the update to the Optimus V. While the revival of the update on Sprint does demonstrate that the carrier is indeed willing to update devices that are officially on the End of Life list, the same cannot be said for Virgin Mobile, boiling down to simple economics and a new Optimus device.
Previous attempts by Virgin Mobile to offer updates for its slate of Android devices were typically met with frustration and angst, as the provider continually missed launch targets for updates due to unexplained delays. By breaking with that effort and instead focusing on releasing updates with new hardware, it makes it harder for customers on prepaid to justify spending money on devices without the guarantee of timely updates and ensures that customers will be left behind in terms of support, with no real recourse other than relying on the Android mod and hacker community for an update which Virgin Mobile should have provided as soon as was possible. To add to the situation, LG even had the update ready for Virgin Mobile to rollout over the air, but just decided not to, preferring instead to offer a slightly updated successor to the Optimus V detailed below.
Rumors of a successor to the Optimus S and V have been circulating since the end of last year and this may explain why Virgin Mobile is actively refusing to roll out the update. The new replacement, which will be known as the Optimus Elite will feature slight upgrades from the Optimus variants with the key addition of NFC for mobile wallet support, as Sprint is supporting Google’s Wallet initiative. With Virgin Mobile getting ready to refresh its Android lineup beginning in May, the virtual operator has EOL’d the Optimus V for the Elite instead of offering extended support, which breaks with the provider’s typical effort to update devices and will only upset those that owned the previous phone.