Over-The-Air (OTA) smartphone upgrades do not require connecting the phone to a computer. My old Nokia N96 got its upgrades OTA. And, so do my Android phones. Windows Phone and Apple’s iOS (iPhone/iPad) devices need to be connected to a computer to get their updates. Are OTA upgrades better than tethered upgrades? It depends. Let’s consider this report by 9to5mac.com.
Is delivering an update to an iPhone or iPad OTA a good idea? In this case, it seems like a bad idea because iOS updates are gigantic. The iOS 4.3.3 update released just this week, for example, as 666.2MB for the iPhone 4 and 621.1MB for the iPad 2. iOS updates tend to be monolithic. The underlying system is updated in its entirety. Even if Apple and Verizon limit OTA updates to only those times when the iOS device is on a WiFi network, the download would take so long that the device would need to be connected to a power adapter during the process.