Let’s be honest – software update situation in the Android universe is still not as good as that on the Apple side of things. Hence, buying an Android phone for long-term use factors in the number and frequency of software updates it will receive over its lifetime. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, given that each one of them tries to offer a different experience with custom skins. Also Read - Fake apps scam: How to identify fake apps on Android, iOS
Lately, things have improved as some of the big names have started to take updating their older phones seriously. Samsung has shown a massive improvement and has already delivered Android 11 to a couple of its affordable phones. Vivo and Oppo made headlines in the last few days to commit to updating their premium phones for three years. Also Read - Android 12 beta 2 rolling out: New privacy features, tweaked design and more
Here’s a list of the update situation: which companies offer how many updates and which phones are eligible. Also Read - Twitter Blue FAQs: What is it? How much does it cost? Is free Twitter going away?
Android update plans for major smartphone brands
Samsung now promises three years of Android OS updates to its Galaxy S series devices (starting from Galaxy S10 and newer), Galaxy Note series, Galaxy Z series, Galaxy A series and some Galaxy M series phone. Hence, midrange phones like the Galaxy A51, Galaxy A71 and their successors are eligible for three years of OS updates.
For the flagships, Samsung releases monthly security patches while cheaper devices get it in the span of a few months. Samsung usually starts releasing the update within a span of three months after Google’s release of the stable build.
Google has maintained its promise of three years of OS updates on Pixel devices. The current Pixel 4a got the Android 11 update last year and is eligible for two more OS updates. Google systematically releases security patches every month on its Pixel devices. Additionally, Pixel devices get the latest version of Android ahead of other brands.
OnePlus release three years of OS updates for its flagship models. Phones like the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are expected to get three OS updates, starting with Android 12 this year. OnePlus usually releases a public beta on the same day as Google’s release of the stable build but it takes up to a month to release the stable OxygenOS update.
However, OnePlus has lately slowed down with its update disbursement speed. Older models like the OnePlus 7 series took up to 4 months to get the update and that too riddled with bugs. More affordable OnePlus devices like the Nord and OnePlus 9R don’t get the same treatment as their expensive cousins. Additionally, OnePlus is mum on how many updates the Nord and 9R are supposed to get.
Oppo recently promised three years of Android OS updates on its Find X series flagships. However, there’s nothing promised for the Reno, F and A series devices. Based on track records, Oppo usually releases up to two Android OS updates and several security patches on most of its premium smartphones costing above Rs 20,000.
Vivo follows Oppo with a promise of three years of Android OS updates for its X series flagships. However, it applies to upcoming X series phones launching after June 2021. Existing phones from Vivo are said to get their usual security support and possibly an Android OS update.
Xiaomi’s model of disbursing Android updates varies from model to model. Its flagship models like the Mi 11X series, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 10, Mi 10T series, and Redmi K20 Pro are expected to get two Android OS updates, and up to four MIUI version updates. That said, security updates are irregular on these phones. The updates usually take a few months to reach the device.
Midrange models such as the Redmi Note series usually get one Android OS update in their lifetime and up to four MIUI version updates. Entry-level models such as the Redmi 9 series and older usually miss out on Android OS updates but get several MIUI version updates.
Realme follows a late update disbursal of OS update similar to Oppo. Most Realme midrange and high-end phones are entitled to two Android OS updates. Realme bundles its RealmUI update with the annual Android upgrade. Security updates are irregular on these devices.
Motorola usually delivers one Android OS update on most of its midrange to premium phones. It also delivers security updates in a span of two months. However, some high-end models like the Edge+, Razr, and Razr 5G could get two OS updates despite Motorola only promising a single Android update. The updates usually take a few months to reach these devices after Google’s official release of the stable version.
Poco follows Xiaomi’s update disbursal policy as the company depends highly on Xiaomi’s resources. Some of its past devices such as the Poco F1 and Poco X2 have got Android 11 updates along with several MIUI updates. The security patch disbursal is still unclear, with only a few models getting frequent updates. The entry-level models haven’t got any Android OS update yet but keep receiving the MIUI updates.
Micromax has lately promised up to two Android OS updates and three years of security patch updates on its latest In Note 1 and In 1b smartphones. The company has already rolled out the Android 11 beta for Note 1 users.
Certain smartphone brands haven’t mentioned their software update policy. iQOO, which recently launched the iQOO 7 series in India, stays mum on the Android update situation. Their last year’s iQOO 3 is yet to get the Android 11 update. Brands like Infinix, Tecno, and Lava don’t reveal their plans for updating existing smartphones.