It has to be said that Sony has done a better job than most manufacturers in keeping their older phones fresh with software updates. Except for one model, all Xperia phones that were released in 2011 are guaranteed to receive the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade.

The ICS updates for the Sony Xperia Ray, Xperia Arc, and Xperia Neo have been gradually rolled out by Sony for quite some time now – with some even starting three months ago – but it looks like O2 subscribers will not be seeing what folks in other parts of the world are sporting.

O2 has officially announced on its website that the Xperia Ray, Xperia Arc, Xperia Neo will remain on Android 2.3 Gingerbread.  While the update to Android 4.0 has been tested for a few months, the testing apparently has failed to meet the carrier’s requirements. To be more specific, O2 said that the upgrade to ICS affected “the phone’s speed and performance” due to the “more advanced hardware requirements” of the OS.

The decision not to approve the ICS update was also partly taken because, once it is installed, users wouldn’t be able to go back to Gingerbread without losing the phone’s data.

A quick read on Sony’s support forum reveals that many customers aren’t too happy with how ICS run on the three phones. Not to say that there aren’t any satisfied users, though. Any thoughts about O2 pulling the plug on the update? Will you risk updating your phones to ICS through unofficial means? Or will you be content staying on the more stable Gingerbread?