Sony Xperia Neo L with Ice Cream Sandwich

Sony’s new upgraded and updated Xperia range has been a popular one so far in the UK. The Xperia S sleek finish and impressive specs have shown the NXT range will pick up the baton from its predecessors and just keep running, with Sony Xperia S contracts already in high demand. However, there has been one drawback. Some have been disappointed that the device and its partners the U and the P do not run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

With so many other devices running ICS at their launch, some wondered why Sony was not following suit. Now Sony is set to unveil its first Android 4.0 device, suggesting an upgrade for existing models isn’t that far away. Sony had previously stated that it planned to update its existing phones to Ice Cream Sandwich in April of this year.

The Sony Xperia Neo L is the follow up to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo. Launched in China the device is the Japanese tech giant’s first to run ICS.

It might be a ground breaker for Sony, but the specifications of the Neo L do not suggest it is any other than a middle of the range smartphone. It comes with a single core 1 GHz processor, runs 512MB of RAM and has 1GB of storage on board. The screen is 4 inches with an 854 x 480 display and on the back is a 5 megapixel camera capable of 720p video recording.

At the launches of the Xperia S, the P and the U Sony said that the handsets would receive an Android 4.0 upgrade later in the year. This has been in keeping with what they have told existing Xperia owners. Sony announced back in the final quarter of 2011 that the whole of its Xperia range would receive an ICS upgrade. No firm dates have been confirmed however.

While Samsung has begun its upgrade of the S2 and HTC has begun rolling out its Android 4.0 upgrade across selected lines there has still be no news from when Xperia owners might get the same.

The launch of the Neo L already running the latest version of the Google operating system suggests that upgrade might be sooner rather than later. The biggest barrier in the way of the upgrade to new operating systems is how the manufacturer can get it to work alongside their existing interface and technology. As the Motorola exec said earlier this year at a press conference it can be time-consuming and the upgrade is a long road that can be frustrating for consumers but yet still needs to be done. No one wants to buy a new handset or receive an upgrade that effectively bricks their device and makes it impossible to use. Problems have to be ironed out before the launch.

It’s unlikely that UK consumers will get their hands on the Sony Neo L for the foreseeable. The launch was in China and it looks set to stay there. However as Sony’s first ICS smartphone then perhaps its launch is more significant for Sony’s UK consumers than at first it might have looked. If it does come out in the UK then the device will head straight for the budget end of the market. But if it does herald that Sony is ready to embrace Android 4.0 then hopefully it means for those waiting for an upgrade it could be coming sooner rather than later.