Why Doen't My Android Phone Get OTA Updates Greater Than 2.3.6?


Hello All!

I just purchased a new (2011 model) Samsung Stratosphere SCH-I405 cell phone from Ebay.com.

As soon as I got it and set it up there was a notification of an available update. I let the update proceed and when I logged back in I checked the Android version 2.3.6. I have had the phone for about a week now and haven't got any other OTA updates.

Is 2.3.6 the highest Android version my phone will ever get (through an OTA update)? Do older phones not get the latest Android updates and if so why? Is it because Verizon (my carrier) has decided to not update my phone as an incentive to buy a newer one? Or is it something like a hardware compatibility issue?

If I am never going to get a higher version by an OTA is the some other way I can update my Android version? Perhaps go to Samsung or Verizon's website and download an update.zip file? If this option is not available is the only other option I have is to root my phone and install a custom ROM? Or can I root my phone, find a higher Android update.zip file somewhere, and update the phone that way? (I guess I would have to make sure that, if I updated using the update.zip method, that my phone is compatible with whatever Android version I am installing.

Thank you,


P.S. The main reason why I want to update Android is because I am hoping the phone will operate faster. Right now it seems I get a lot of process hangs. If I can't update Android, then is there a way to remove some of those default apps that come with Android? Like Let's Golf, etc. If I root the phone can I uninstall those apps?


Android Expert
Most android phones only receive updates for 1-2 years after purchase. There are a combination of reasons for this:
1. Hardware limitations. My old phone is the Galaxy S Captivate, the AT&T cousin to your phone. At 512 MB of RAM and an outdated SoC, it doesn't make sense to release KitKat for it. Through custom ROMs, I am running KitKat, and it works, but it isn't great.

2. Cost. It takes time and money to write the updates. They have to take it from Google and then customize it and add the appropriate drivers to make it work on your device, which they then have to test and then receive carrier approval. This uses resources they could be spending on newer devices that are still making money. The majority of cell phone users have moved onto newer devices as their contracts renew, so it would be a great deal of effort to only benefit a small minority of cell phone users.

3. Yes, they do want you to buy a newer device. Planned obsolescence is real.

So to answer your question, you will not get an OTA update, nor will you get any official update.zip file from Samsung, as it was never written. My recommendation is to check the forums here as well as at XDA-Developers to see what ROMs are available for your specific device.

If you root your device, you will have the ability to remove those excess apps(often referred to as bloatware).


Android Enthusiast
Manufacturers (Samsung in this case) typically only support their most popular phones with updates for around 2 years; less for other models. So, yeah, Samsung probably stopped at 2.3.6.

Sometimes you can find custom ROMs that are up to date after the manufacturer has stopped support. I couldn't find any ROMs for your phone in the few minutes I spent looking. Rooting would allow you to remove the bloat.

You can check out the Stratosphere forum here. It doesn't look very active, but there's still some people posting there. And you might find some useful info.