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The Sony Mobile and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean debacle

Sony Mobile recently held a Facebook Q & A session on its Sony UK page, where John Cooper, UK product manager for Sony Mobile, answered questions on the company’s phones. The queries started off rather innocuously, but the tide turned when users began asking about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean coming to their phones. Since then, there have been many column inches written about what was mentioned on the social networking site - which has culminated in Sony officially wading in on the topic.

The session began with the words: “Hi Sony Fans! We've got John here, who is our resident Sony Mobile GB expert. He's going to be answering your questions on all things Sony Mobile & Xperia. Fire your questions away...”

The first question on Jelly Bean was soon fielded, with the following response by John Cooper: “Hi Hans, we're currently reviewing which handsets are the best for the Jelly Bean update. Once we do know we'll make sure to let you know right here on Facebook.

This is the standard and expected response from Sony that I’ve heard before. Until now...

The next response on the subject of Jelly Bean established that at least one phone won’t be getting Android 4.1. “Hi Dani, unfortunately Arc S won't be getting the Jelly Bean updated but we're always developing new phones and making sure they get the latest updates.

This is the first time I've seen Sony Mobile officially comment on a phone with regards to the 4.1 update and indicates that the 2011 flagship handset won’t be on a par with the likes of the Nexus phones or HTC mobiles.

John Cooper’s next response left another handset out of the Jelly Bean equation, with: “Hi Alexsy, unfortunately the Xperia Mini Pro won't be getting Jelly Bean :(

This news didn’t come as too much of a shock, as the Mini Pro wasn’t really a mid-range or high-end mobile phone. Originally shipped with Gingerbread, it just about qualified for an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, which began rolling out in May/June of this year.

So it would seem Jelly Bean won’t be coming to the Sony Xperia arc S. That phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.4GHz processor, the same variant found in other 2011 models, such as the Xperia ray, Xperia active and neo V. Does this mean that last year’s mobile phones won’t be getting an update to the latest Android operating system?

Well, we're not so sure now - even about the arc S.

Following on from the Facebook Q & A, (which no longer shows John Cooper's replies), Sony officially waded into the discussion using the Sony Mobile Xperia product blog to issue the following:

A quick note – during a Q&A session last week on our Sony Mobile GB Facebook page, a local spokesperson gave information out in error on our Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software development and rollout for 2011 Xperia smartphones.

We are actively investigating Android OS upgrades for all devices, but in the meantime, our Ice Cream Sandwich rollout for Xperia S and 2011 Xperia smartphones continues as planned.”

So, we are back to square one: not knowing which Sony Mobile phones will be getting Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Either that, or after gauging the response of its customers, it has reversed its decision. We will just have to wait and see.

To stay abreast of all the information about when, and if, Jelly Bean is coming to your phone, keep an eye on When will my phone get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.