There’s been a lot done about the “fractured” nature of Android, with many phones not receiving updates to the latest version of Google’s operating system until months after its release … or not.
This is in stark contrast to Apple’s iPhones, which often remain on the latest version of iOS several years after they were first released. So, which brands are the best to keep their Android devices up to date?
Why don’t all Android phones get the latest version of the OS?
There are several reasons why some Android phones get updates, while others are left out in the cold. The first thing to consider is how many different models each manufacturer offers. Each year, Apple adds only a maximum of about four iPhones to its lineup, so the overall number of devices iOS should support is quite low.
This is not the case with Android, where some of the largest manufacturers release twice that number or higher, making the entire market flooded with devices, all of which need dedicated support. Some carriers also need appropriate upgrades to push even to their specific construction of a device, which can also cause delays (although this seems less of a problem today). Because of all this, some brands will often give priority to their flagship devices, with cheaper models given a short saving.
In other cases, the “skins” or interface overlays used by many brands have to be optimized and checked to make sure they work with the latest versions of the OS, which is one reason for the delays.
Google has addressed this in recent years, using the Google Play Services app as a way to introduce newer features without the need for a full operating system update, but security patches have yet to be applied to the OS level (although these are separate from Android version updates).
There are also exceptions, with the Android One existing software to help devices stay on top of the latest version of the OS, all while maintaining a clean, streamlined interface that reflects Google’s ideal for Android.
Phones that work with Android One usually stay up to date for a two-year warranty after release, so if you want the latest features, then those are models that are worth looking into.
Which brands are the best for Android updates?
Here is a selection of manufacturers that are committed to releasing regular updates and often supporting older models for longer.
It should come as no big surprise that Google is at the top of the list, due to the fact that it creates every new version of Android. If you have one of their own Pixel phone range, then you are guaranteed three years of major updates, all of which usually arrive on the first day or shortly thereafter.
Another brand that regularly appears at the top of the Android update chart is OnePlus.
The company had managed to push through Android 11 to all its 2020 flagships (u OnePlus 8, 8 Pro and 8T – even though the 8T actually launched Android 11) before the end of the year, with entries like the mid-range OnePlus North and older top-tier models, such as the OnePlus 7 series that are all enjoying a bump up to the latest version of Android by April 2021.
U OnePlus Nord N10 5G, Nord N100 and older OnePlus 6T and OnePlus 6 are also expected to receive their OS updates in the near future.
After news of more integration with its sister company, the codebases of OnePlus ’OxygenOS and Oppo’s ColorOS are said to be merging, making for a more stable foundation and an easier upgrade path, which in the same breath OnePlus has developed (in a post on a so fori July 3, 2021) is committed to several years of OS and security updates across the current range.
- Flagship phones up to the OnePlus 8 series (including any “T” and “R” branded phones) will receive three major Android updates and four years of security updates.
- The original OnePlus North and North CE have been promised two major Android updates and three years of security updates.
- The more modest North N series – including the N10 5G and N100 will receive only one major Android update and three years of security updates in its lifetime.
- “Emblematic devices released before the OnePlus 8 series will follow the previous calendar of two major Android updates and three years of security updates.”
While the Finnish company might not have the power that was back at the peak of the feature phones, it also has a good selection of devices at different price points, practically all of which feature Android One. This means that two years of major upgrades are guaranteed, with delivery times usually close to release.
The company has made a slight attack, delaying the first of its Android 11 updates – aimed at the Nokia 8.3 5G – in 2021, but since then we’ve seen a steady stream of new firmware, affecting devices across the board. gamma.
Unlike the HMD Global roadmap (which manages Nokia’s phone business) released last year (above), as of April 2021, the Nokia 8.3 5G, 8.1, 4.2, 2.3 and 2.2 have now received a upgraded to Android 11, with the Nokia 7.2, 6.2, 5.3, 3.4, 2.4, 1.3 and 1 Plus still waiting in the aisle for their turn.
Market analysts Counterpoint search had Nokia at number one for updates when it released its report in 2019, meanwhile AOSMark (which tracks security updates) now has the company in slot number four, behind the likes of Google and OnePlus.
Until recently, Samsung was one of the transgressive players to keep their Android devices up to date and that was primarily derived from the fact that it came out very dang. However, in a surprising and positive move of February 2021, the company has promised to offer four years of Android security updates to the devices it had launched from 2019 onwards, regardless of their location (Galaxy S Series, A Series, M Series and the like).
This comes on top of a promise to provide three-year OS updates to numerous S, Note and even A Series devices, starting with entries like the 2020 Galaxy A51 and even the 2019 Galaxy A90 5G.
While security updates come on a monthly or quarterly basis, the question remains about how quickly these promised system updates will arrive on supported devices. However, the fact that Samsung promises such long-term support has raised its profile a lot, regarding this particular feature.
Another problematic OEM for the longest time has been LG but considering the weather, their situation too is in the process of changing.
Although the company has now confirmed that it will stop its mobile business, in the same move it also promises to provide at least three years of Android OS (and security) updates to a number of its main devices, which will extend to 2019.
While the totality of the company’s mobile portfolio for the last two years is not covered by this promise, it is a big move that benefits consumers and earns our respect.
While the company is still in the early stages of permeating new markets outside of its native China, Yujian Shi – senior vice president of Civo and CTO – confirmed in early May that the flagship smartphones in its flagship X series that launch after July 2021 will all be sold with the guarantee of at least three years of major updates to the Android OS and security updates.
“With the top of the line hardware, the flagship X-series phones are built to last – and we want to ensure our customers receive software support that lives up to their expectations,” said Shi .
This commitment affects Vivo devices in the European, Australian and Indian markets currently.
Best of the rest
Alongside Google, OnePlus and Nokia, there are several brands that are working hard to ensure that new updates arrive soon and on a good selection of their devices. These include Xiaomi, Redmi, Oppo, Sony, Motorola and Realme.
In a conversation with Android Planet in May, Oppo talked about its intentions to extend the monthly support of Android’s security update to its latest flagship phone line – the Oppo Find X3 series – by one more year (leading to a total of three, from two). In addition, Oppo said it plans to extend this to four years for a wider range of devices, although no official press release has been issued on the matter.
For more information on the latest iteration of Android, read our guide to Android 11 and be sure to check out our roundup at the best android phones now that you know which ones are more likely to be updated in the years to come.