The Marshall London is brought (almost) up to date

I’ve been a huge fan of the Marshall London smartphone in the last couple of years. The richest front facing stereo speakers on any phone in the world still, in 2017, by quite a margin. (And yes, I’ve used the ZTE Axon 7.) Stereo microphones that can record the loudest band. A grippy and durable outer skin that has never needed a case. Twin headphone jacks with independent volume controls. A high end DAC for powerful headphone output. A replaceable battery, the list goes on. I reviewed the Marshall London here 18 months ago. And, after an eternity, it’s been updated.

 

On the flip side, the Snapdragon 410 chipset inside (though with 2GB RAM, thankfully) and 720p screen aren’t stellar and have been showing their age in recent times. These can’t be helped, but a constant worry in terms of day to day use was lack of security, in that the Google Security patch level was back at ‘June 2016’ – and we call know how many vulnerabilities Android has had revealed since then.

Marshall (actually Zound Industries, licensing the Marshall brand name to good effect) seemed to have stopped updating this phone, but from talking with the folks at Zound it seems as though they’ve merely been reorganising their software development and support system and have now emerged from the darkness. In fact, there’s a rather encouraging changelog.

From the official post on the update:

2016 is now behind us and we have done a lot of work in the background to make sure we can bring out more firmware updates faster to your London. Thank you again for your patience & choosing ‘the most rock & roll phone on the planet’.

 We have added features requested by users as well as fixed most of the top-5 annoying bugs reported by owners.

  • 5MB email attachment limit has been increased to 20MB
  • Latest Google Services supported
  • You can now restart your phone from the power menu
  • Updated Equalizer service
  • Bug-fix: Location icon would display in notification bar even if disabled
  • Bug-fix: Incorrect suffix in Clock widget
  • Bug-fix: Network traffic icon alignment when active
  • Bug-fix: Lag in volume adjustment
  • Google Security Updates up to January 2017
  • ‘Quadrooter’ security exploit protection
  • Outdated ‘Android tips’ widget removed

The update is over the air and went smoothly on my own Marshall London handset:

A 43.2MB update is small by update standards and shows immediately that there’s no wholesale Android 6 update happening here – this is mainly about security and fixes.
The update takes around 10 minutes and, as usual involves a restart…
Note the new Android security patch level, it’s great to see such a relatively old phone getting 2017 security patches.
One of the few new features, the addition of ‘Restart’ to the power button menu…

Encouragingly, Marshall seems to be back on the ball in terms of keeping the London responsive too, with a further quote from their post:

“More optimization and user experience updates will be included in the next firmware update.”

Great to see and I still go back to my beloved London in between review device testing and other ‘diversions’! It’s true that this phone is still on Android 5.1, i.e. Lollipop, but this is just the base OS and it’s important to note that this unique little phone now has both latest Google Play Services and (almost) the latest Security patches too. It’s debatable whether it’s worth Zound Industries investing in Android 6 for the London at this stage when Lollipop is working so well. (The same applies to quite a few other 2015 era phones with Snapdragon 4xx series chipsets, I’d argue.)

Set your expectations low in terms of interface speed and the London can still rock your socks off – it’s still the top all-round music phone on the planet, arguably.

PS. If you hadn’t heard of the London before, it’s here, though at a crazy placeholder price of £399.