Consumer activists are calling on Chinese smartphone maker ZTE to clarify whether US sanctions against the firm will prevent it from providing operating system updates for its Android devices.
Until the company assures that it will be able to keep delivering updates to the Android gadgets, people should hold off on buying ZTE phones, consumer groups in the US said, Reuters reports.
The US Commerce Department on Monday banned American companies from providing components, software and other technology to ZTE, saying it was punishing the Chinese firm for violating the terms of a settlement agreement.
ZTE is yet to provide guidance to consumers on how the ban will affect its ability to provide updates to the Android operating system, a Google product, which it uses on its phones.
Jamie Court, president of Los Angeles-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, called on ZTE, Google and wireless carriers to tell consumers how the ban will impact their ability to service the Chinese company’s phones.
“They certainly shouldn’t be selling new phones if they aren’t sure they can update them,” Reuters quoted Court as saying.
ZTE phones were available for sale on Thursday through websites of major US carriers and retailers including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Best Buy and Walmart.
Some technology analysts advised consumers not to buy the phones until it is clear whether they can be updated.
“Sufficient uncertainty exists that it would not be prudent to buy a ZTE phone,” said John Jackson, a consumer technology analyst with market research firm IDC.
Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics, said he expects US carriers and retailers will sell out current ZTE inventories, then stop selling the Chinese company’s handsets.
ZTE smartphones should still function if they do not get future Android updates, but users will not be able add new features or install patches to protect the devices against newly discovered security threats, according to Entner.
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