Android OEMs have gotten a bad rep in a few short years for being, well, lethargic when it comes to updating their handsets to the latest version of Google’s OS. Now the numbers are in to see how handsets really fare when it comes to getting updated.

TheUnderstatement have put together a nice little bar graph showing the lifecycle of 18 Android phones and what exactly happened with regards to updates over time. The results aren’t particularly pretty.

HTC seem to fare the best: the Nexus One of course saw consistent updates, although as we found out the other day, it won’t see the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich. HTC’s other phones such as the Droid Incredible and EVO 4G did see slight delays on getting up to speed but did get to Gingerbread in the end.

Meanwhile Motorola’s devices, especially the cheaper offerings, haven’t done so well, with phones that are only around a year and a half old seeing little to no updates at all.

The raw numbers are telling too: 7 out of 18 handsets never ran the most current version of Android, and 15 of the 18 don’t run Gingerbread which launched back in December 2010.

So is fragmentation a huge problem or a red herring? Potentially it’s a problem more for developers as they try to provide app compatibility for several versions of Android, but it hasn’t seemed to stopped the run away train of success some have seen. As for the manufacturers, hopefully the graph gives you an indication of who to support and who to avoid in the future.

If you want timely updates to Android, stick to the “pure” devices such as the Nexus One and Nexus S. And even though Google won’t be serving up Ice Cream Sandwich to the Nexus One, you can be sure some nice people on the Internet will cook up a ROM for your convenience in due course. See? They’re already hard at work.

Source: TheUnderstatement via Phandroid