One of the things we first noticed when we got the Motorola Xoom into the PCMag labs was that the 4G LTE radio, which would let the Xoom connect to the super-fast Verizon LTE network, was missing. We asked Motorola about it, and they said there would be a free upgrade offered to Xoom buyers, but that they weren’t sure how it would happen.
Droid Life first got the details, which will soon be available from Verizon itself. Essentially, here’s how the (purely optional) upgrade process is going to work: approximately 90 days after the Xoom ships (which would be about May 26 or so), Motorola will tell all Xoom owners that the 4G LTE upgrade is ready. Then, all these Xoom owners will put their device in a box and mail it back to Motorola. Motorola will upgrade the hardware and the software on the device so that it can support 4G LTE. Then they’ll mail it back. The whole process, Verizon says, will take up to six days. Six days!
It’s also recommended that you back-up all your data on the device “as a precaution,” and then to do a factory reset to delete all the data on your Xoom. Verizon has a “Getting Ready Guide” to help you do that, but it’s far from a simple process—not to mention one riddled with possibility for error and data loss. When you get your Xoom back, you’ll have to re-load everything back onto the tablet.
There are plenty of good reasons to make the upgrade: Verizon says connection speeds will be up to 10 times faster with LTE, and it won’t require a change in your data plan—though you’ll need a new, LTE-friendly plan to make use of the new speeds. (Plus, as our own Sascha Segan found out, LTE will burn through your data allotment in a hurry.) It will make video calling with Google Talk an even better experience, and you’ll be on the very latest technology. But Motorola and Verizon are asking for quite the trade-off: the need to mail in your device, and to wait a week to get it back. Verizon’s leaked page makes no mention of an in-store option for upgrading.
4G LTE might be the future, and it’s certainly a selling point for Xoom owners, but the upgrade process leaves a lot to be desired. What it does, in essence, is make it extremely obvious what potential buyers should do—wait until May, when Xooms start shipping with the new radios. Of course, by then the Xoom will likely have plenty more competition from the likes of the iPad 2, the BlackBerry PlayBook, and others.