Many US Lumia smartphones still don't have the Denim update six months after launch

In mid-December, the Lumia Denim software update began rolling out around the world starting in China. Six months later, a quick check of the Microsoft Mobile support site reveals that the Denim update has made its way to most of the eligible Lumia devices worldwide.

However, there is one large exception to that rule: the United States.

It's not exactly a shock to learn that the US is well behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to Denim updates for the Lumia smartphones, but it's still disappointing. The official United States Denim update list has added a few smartphones in the past few weeks, including the Lumia 1020 from AT&T.

This week, the page was changed to indicate that the unlocked, US country variant for the Lumia 830 can now download its Denim update.

However, that still leaves many phones on the list that lack the over-the-air Denim update. That includes some popular phones such as AT&T's Lumia 520 and the 521 variant from T-Mobile and Metro PCS. AT&T has several phones lacking Denim on the list, including their Lumia 830, the 920 and the 925. Cricket and T-Mobile's Lumia 530 are still awaiting a Denim update, as is the Lumia 1320 from Cricket. All of the Lumia 635 models from Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket and Metro PCS are still awaiting Denim.

It's possible that some carriers will update these phones with both Denim and Windows 8.1 Update 2 in one big OTA download, but that's just a theory for now.

AT&T Lumia 830, where art thou?

Of course, the biggest offender here is AT&T and their Lumia 830. It is the only phone left that can truly benefit from Lumia Denim. That is because Denim is needed for the coveted Lumia Camera 5.0 experience. All the other phones mentioned above e.g. Lumia 530, Lumia 920, Lumia 925, etc. do not gain anything substantial from Denim, as there is no corresponding firmware for those devices. In that sense, Denim is less of a big deal that previous updates.

A recent report claims that the Microsoft will be in control of the update button for the OS. However, Microsoft clarified later that it will give wireless carriers some input in terms of testing any updates before launching them.

Hopefully, Microsoft will be able to issue updates for the OS much quicker than they have in the past. Then again, even in 2015 Android still faces an uphill battle against the carriers, who still control the phones and update approval process often with many delays. Microsoft needs to be careful here as they are both the customer and partner with the carriers too. Without their support, Windows 10 Mobile will fail.

Often, many people say Microsoft should just "bypass the carriers", but this is just not possible. Carriers buy the phones en masse from Microsoft and then promote them in their stores and on TV. If Microsoft takes a too aggressive stance, the carriers will balk at their product and not sell the phones at all. There are reasons why phone manufacturers occasionally fall out of favor with carriers (see Palm, and Nokia years ago). Being blacklisted by any of the US telecoms is just not an option.

Source: Microsoft Mobile; Thanks to Gary Moore for the tip!

John Callaham