Motorola will update Sprint's Photon 4G and AT&T's Atrix 2 to the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system starting in July, the company announced in a Motorola Owners Forum post Feb. 15. Although the Atrix 2's predecessor, the Atrix 4G, is no longer offered by AT&T, it too will get the update. While it's good news to people who have had these phones for a while now, it's a bit surprising they are getting Android 4.0 before newer, higher priced devices like the Samsung Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note or LG Nitro HD. Both the Photon 4G and Atrix 2 are offered at $100 on contract, so it could be Motorola sees these two as potentially being hot sellers because they have the best mix of price and features.

When Android 4.0 debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, many observers assumed other high-end devices like the Droid Razr would get the update first because they had the most up to date processors and displays. Motorola debuted the Droid Razr on Verizon in November 2011, and many though it would only be a couple months before it would get the, at the time, soon to be released ICS.

In fact, Motorola's strategy here may be the beginning of a new era in the Android smartphone world. For many months leading up to the holiday season in 2011, it seemed manufacturers were adding new phones every few weeks just because they could. Consumers were confused because it seemed like the next new phone would come out just when you bought a new one. Many worried their less than a year old phones would be left behind in the Android 4.0 update cycle because there appeared to be so many new devices out there that would presumably get the update first. This made sense from a sales point of view, because carriers could sell the Razr, for example, by saying it would get the update in just two or three months. It turns out the Droid Razr is still being tested for its compatibility with Android 4.0, according to Motorola. It seems inconceivable, but it may not get the update at all because it's in the evaluation and planning stage.

For now, the only Motorola smartphones scheduled to get ICS in 2012 are thr Photon 4G, Atrix 4G and Atrix 2 starting in July. The rest of Motorola's lineup, including the Droid 4 and Droid Razr Maxx are in the evaluation and planning stage, and that means there is no guarantee they will be updated. The Photon 4G is on Sprint, and it comes with 4.3-inch 960x540p resolution qHD display , 16 gigabytes of storage, full gig of memory, micro HDMI port, eight megapixel rear facing camera and DLNA compatibility for streaming content to HDTVs and Blu-ray players.

AT&T's Atrix 2 features the same 4.3-inch qHD display as the Photon 4G, but has less storage. It's capable of 1080p video capture, and comes with a full gigabyte of memory, microSD card reader, dual cameras and is compatible with the Atrix 2 HD Multimedia docking Station (sold separately for $100) The Atrix 4G has a 4-inch 960x540p resolution qHD display, Gorilla Glass, 16 gigabytes of storage, dual cameras and a large 1930 mAh battery. It's on Amazon for around $400 for a GSM variant. Tell us in the comments if you think the prospect of getting ICS in July makes these phones more competitive with devices like the Droid Razr or Samsung Galaxy S2.  

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