In the wonderful world of Android, updates are a hot topic. Many phones are logically abandoned by their manufacturers, just a few years after their release. To make an informed choice, here is what the Samsung, Google and other Xiaomi of this world promise.
Software tracking has become an essential feature to consider when purchasing a smartphone. A regularly updated phone is better protected against malware, in addition to having a longer lifespan. But in the world of Android, it is often difficult to see clearly on this point.
Here is what we know about the commitments of each manufacturer.
Security Update / Major Update
Before detailing the policy of each manufacturer regarding Android software tracking, it is essential to distinguish between the different update mechanisms offered by the Google OS.
Android phones benefit from two separate update channels.
- Security updates : Protecting your phone from potential viruses and other malware, these monthly updates can be deployed without touching critical system layers, making it easy to deploy. In general, they do not provide any new functionality, but are essential for the proper functioning of your mobile.
- Major updates : more media, the updates of the OS bring new functionalities. They often take longer to arrive than security updates because manufacturers have to make changes to them in order to make them compatible with their phones. Google presents a major new version of its system per year. The latest is Android 12, released in early October 2021.
To find out what the latest security update is installed on your phone, or what version of the OS you are on, go to Settings, System, System update.
If the system updates bring more new features and attract more attention, security updates are more important. Even if you don’t have the latest trending feature, being up to date on security patches means your mobile is protected and you can use it safely for longer. This is precisely why Google has split this update channel. When a manufacturer commits to a certain update time, they usually talk about security updates.
Google – 3 to 5 years
Not surprisingly, among the good students of software tracking, we find Google. No wonder, since the search giant is the company that develops the operating system.
Until now, Google offered security updates on its Pixels during “ at least three years from the date the device was initially made available from the Google Store in the United States “. This should change soon. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which will be presented on October 19, 2021, will be entitled to 5 years of security updates.
Samsung – 4 years
Just behind Google, we find Samsung among the 1st in the class. In early 2021, the Korean manufacturer announced that its Galaxy devices (Z, S, Note, A, XCover and Tab) released since 2019 will be entitled to 4 years of security updates.
Foldable phones from the manufacturer are also affected. The world’s largest phone maker promises updates ” monthly, quarterly or semi-annually “. Regarding its other ranges of mobiles, Samsung has not made a firm commitment.
OnePlus / Oppo – 3 to 4 years
OnePlus and Oppo recently merged their development efforts to offer ” better software tracking for phones “. From this joint effort was born an update schedule which is as follows:
- OnePlus phones from the OnePlus 8 will receive 3 years of system update and 4 years of security update,
- The Oppo Find X series will be entitled to three major updates and 4 years of security update,
- Oppo Reno and Oppo F series will be entitled to 2 major updates and 4 years of security updates,
- The Oppo A series will receive 1 major update and 3 years of security updates.
Vivo – 3 years (X series only)
Less known than Oppo and Xiaomi, the Chinese manufacturer Vivo has also detailed its update schedule. Or rather, a very small part of its update schedule.
In a press release dated May 2021, the firm announced that it would provide three years of major updates and security updates … for its high-end mobiles only. More specifically, for the Vivo X series. The latter includes the Vivo X51 and Vivo X60.
It’s unclear what treatment is given to the rest of Vivo phones.
Nokia – 2 to 3 years
Nokia phones (now built by HMD Global) offer between two to three years of updating.
- X series will receive 3 major updates and 3 years of security update,
- G series, 2 major updates and 3 years of security updates,
- C series, only 2 years of security update.
Xiaomi – 2 years
Xiaomi has dedicated a page of its site to the issue of updates. On the latter, the manufacturer indicates to provide updates ” monthly or quarterly for at least 2 years ”After a phone was put on the market.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 series seems to be an exception. In September 2021 the company announced that the mobiles of this family will receive 3 major updates and 4 years of security update. This policy does not include, ” for the moment », Other devices from the manufacturer.
Motorola – 2 years
Regarding its latest series of high-end smartphones (the Edge 20), Motorola will offer two major Android updates and two years of security updates.
The manufacturer has not communicated on the rest of its catalog, but it is very likely that no other mobile offers more than two years of follow-up.
The Huawei case
Since Huawei was blacklisted by the United States, the manufacturer can no longer install Android on its phones. While some mobiles have continued to receive updates since, none of the manufacturer’s smartphones will see Android 12.
Huawei has started installing its home OS (HarmonyOS) on its smartphones, but has not made a firm commitment as to the duration of updates.
Progress, can do better
If we can say that there is better in tracking Android updates in recent years, the market is far from flawless. For economic and ecological reasons, our mobiles should be supported by software for much longer than that. Having to change your phone after two years, because your mobile is no longer protected against security threats, is absurd.
The task is not impossible. As proof, Apple is rolling out updates to 7-year-old phones. Certainly, the company has a big advantage since it builds the hardware and the software (which is not the case with most Android manufacturers), but even Google, which is in a situation similar to that of Apple. does not promise such a long follow-up.
In short, if there is better today, significant progress remains to be made in this area.