Two years of software updates is no longer enough for $1000 Android phones

Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 displays
Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 displays (Image credit: Android Central)

The iPhone X set the stage for $1,000 flagships back in 2017. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 wasn't far behind, with the phone launching at $929. Ever since then, phone prices have been regularly trending upward, and the latest Android flagships now start off at $1,000. The regular Galaxy S20 retails for $1,000 (opens in new tab), with the Galaxy S20 Ultra starting off at $1,400. Then there's the Verizon-exclusive Motorola Edge+ which also costs $1,000 (opens in new tab), and even Xiaomi is getting in on the action with the Mi 10 Pro, which retails for €999 ($1,080) in the UK.

Sure, the corresponding hike in prices is attributed to improved hardware, with phones these days sporting much better displays with high refresh rates, larger camera modules with dedicated telephoto lenses, and 5G connectivity. The new connectivity standard alone has led to a $100 to $200 increase in prices from the previous generation.

Android phones now have much better hardware, but the software update cycle is unchanged from previous years.

And while Android flagships are substantially costlier now and feature much better hardware than a few years ago, one art that hasn't changed is software updates. Most brands are still only committed to offering two platform updates and security updates for three years, and that's true even for $1,000 flagships. That needs to change.

As my colleague Joe Maring pointed out, the software experience is more important than any other spec in 2020. Hardware has been commoditized for some time now, and if you want a phone with the latest specs, you don't have to spend $1,000. Regardless of how much you've paid for your phone, if the software is sub-par, you're going to have a bad experience.

In that context, software updates matter more than ever. New platform versions bring a host of new features, and while Android 10 did not introduce many visual changes over its predecessor, there were a lot of changes under the hood. But with brands only committed to two Android version updates, only phones released in the last two years will get the latest Android update — leaving tens of millions of devices out in the cold.

Android phones have fared poorly against the iPhone in this area for years, and while Google tried to change that by requiring brands to offer at least two platform updates, not all manufacturers have complied with that rule. Motorola typically commits to only one platform update, and it took endless user backlash for the brand to agree to delivering two updates to its Edge+ flagship.

Pixel 4 XL in-hand

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Because of the egalitarian nature of Android, there's not much Google can do to enforce these rules. Google is instead leading by example by extending the software support on its Pixel phones. Google delivered the Android 10 update to the first-gen Pixel XL, making it the third platform update for the phone.

The Pixel software update page clearly mentions that the Pixel 2 series will get platform version updates until October 2020 — guaranteeing Android 11 for the devices — with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 series also slated to receive three platform updates.

Google is committing to three platform updates for Pixels. Brands like Samsung need to follow suit.

By ensuring that Pixel flagships get three platform updates, Google is offering at least one more version update than the rest of the field. It still isn't the same as the four or five years of updates that Apple delivers to its iPhones, but it's a good starting point nonetheless. The issue here is that Pixel phones make up a tiny fraction of Android phones globally, and realistically, a brand like Samsung needs to take the onus to drive the change on Android.

Samsung is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and if the South Korean manufacturer changes its policies around updates, other device makers will have to inevitably follow suit. Samsung does a decent job rolling out updates to its flagships, but it doesn't fare so well when it comes to its mid-range and budget Galaxy A phones, particularly in Asian markets. There have been several cases in the past where the brand delivered just a single platform update to its budget phones.

With the $399 iPhone SE (opens in new tab) changing the paradigm for value, it's high time Android manufacturers extend software support on their phones. The iPhone SE runs the latest A13 Bionic chipset, and that means it will get updates for at least four years. This gives it a distinct advantage over every other Android phone in the sub-$500 segment.

The new reality is that people are using their devices for longer than ever before. With budget and mid-range phones increasingly sporting much more robust hardware, there's no reason to upgrade your phone on a yearly basis. For instance, the Galaxy A71 is powered by the Snapdragon 730, and the hardware itself is good enough that it will easily last three or more years without any issues. But Samsung is committed to two version updates and a further year of security updates, delivered once a quarter.

To sum it up, Android device manufacturers need to start rethinking their strategy around updates not just in the flagship segment, but also in the mid-range category. The launch of the iPhone SE is a wake-up call for the industry as a whole, and it has highlighted the gulf that exists between Android and iOS updates. We'll just have to wait and see if it acts as a catalyst for Android manufacturers to raise their game.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • Beno will be here any minute 😂😂
  • On this particular issue he will be right though and he does actually like android if you read his posts properly. His fanboy ranting does him no favours unfortunately
  • I agree I do go overboard sometimes but at least you understand where I'm coming from and I've saying this for years that Android software support on most phones are awful, even on the most expensive Android flagships, if you're paying a premium for these phones I expect premium support
  • I was just messing Beno I knew you'd post here, on this particular subject on the updates I have to agree with you 100% we might not always agree on Samsung/Android/Apple but last few months I've been and am tempted to move to Apple myself.
  • Are you serious? You switch to Apple? Can you handle iOS? Lol just messing.
  • Haha oh I can handle apple I own a MacBook Pro, and owned a iPhone upto around the 4S. My family all uses iPhones, I don't hate on Apple quite the opposite I think they make some great hardware (which is why I have my MacBook) but I just think they charge just too much for their stuff but that's just my personal opinion and why I buy any Apple stuff via eBay etc rather than directly from them.
  • Some OEMs give more than 3 years, like Google. The original Pixel arrived with the latest Android 7 back in 2016, and has the latest Android 10 today. Android 11 will be released in the fall on the Pixel 5. That's 4 years, maybe Harish can't count properly. Some LG, and Sony smartphones give you 3 years, the Galaxy S9 has been getting Android 10, which was released in 2017. The thing is the vast majority of people don't use smartphones for more than 3 years. Besides most carrier's in North America, and even some other parts of the world give you great deals if you buy a new smartphone with a carrier. Some will even give you BOGO deals, or visa gift cards, free accessories, and more.
  • Fully agree... Same thoughts here to switch to Apple now when change my phone in near future. I have an IPad air2 since 2016 and still getting IOS 13.5 recently and it has been 4 years.
  • The original Pixel came out in 2016, and is already using the latest Android 10. That is 4 years. The Pixel 2 came out in 2017, and it will be updated to the newer Android 11 in the fall
  • Not true, the original Pixel has reached it's EOL and recently stopped getting security updates, and Android 11 will be the Pixel 2 XL's last update don't count the software both phones shipped with which was Android 7 and Android 8.0 respectively. Somebody cannot count.
  • Not gonna happen. Android updating is a much more complicated process than IOS. People say a similar argument with Windows vs. MacOS. Those users fail to appreciate Windows is a juggernaut compared to MacOS. Yes it should happen, but it won't. If for no other reason only techies really care.
  • This is true and actually many people I know avoid updating their phones, including iPhone users because they simply like them working the way they get used to. Even app updates get avoided incase it changes something or doesn't work in the same way.
  • This is so true. Most people do not care about the benefits of a phone update when they like the way their phone works. That means a phone that is 1-3 years old for most people still works as they expect. The upgrades they envy turnout to be hardware related after all that time (battery, camera, face unlock, etc), which requires them to buy a new phone anyway with the latest software. Tech enthusiasts are the only ones checking software updates monthly and checking app updated daily.
  • Correction it's not only tech enthusiasts a lot of iPhone users actually care about updates maybe they don't care in your circle of friends but remember Apple automatically update their phones anyway so they won't even notice which is good for the security of their phone.
  • I have over 15 iPhone users in my family that I know of—not counting myself. Most of them don’t even know an update is available until I tell them. They always ask me if they could install because lately iOS updates have broken so many things.
  • Lately? Are you joking? This has been an issue since the very beginning. They just don't care.
  • I know many iPhone users who don't update because they have no storage space.
  • agreed, I heard when android update it basically rewrites the whole operating system, my IT guys know the different types of backups full vs incremental which only addresses new files. IOS is much simpler to update and android is basically updating linux lol. Honestly I think android needs at least 3 years of OS and 4 years security but it's too much work to justify especially with the lower price margins OEMs get for android phones... I kinda feel Android is too technical, they should dumb it down like the android one and make that the mainstream, do a poll about what features people really use. Apple really got it right and it's bad to say but they predicted people just wanna use the darn phone and not download 2 gig files from the internet, saved to the sd card and they transferred over the PC.
  • Many already do give you 3 years, Google is the only one that gives you 4 years.
  • How is Android updating more complicated? Receive update notification, back up phone, download update, install update, wait for phone to finish rebooting. As far as I can tell, it's the same process on iOS.
  • I think the comment is referring to aspects of Android much more technical than the steps for users to update.
  • Just saying that at Enterprise, having 3 years of support is a must-have. There is basically Samsung phones left for choice and not all models when it comes down for ordering mobiles. There are years when there is no Android ophone meeting minimum support requirement. It is hurting Android in the Enterprise already. You can say that only techies care, but it's not true.
  • Not many phones in the USA are on the Android One program.
    While the Moto G7 got upgraded to Android 10, it is unlikely to get Android 11 especially now that the Moto G8 has been released.
    Updates is the biggest problem with Android 10.
    I think the manufactures want people to buy a new phone every 1-2 years, so they abandoned the older models leaving them stuck with older versions of Android
  • I think Samsung being the top OEM of Android should be leading by example. It's all good that they providing security updates in a timely manner now compared to the past like we've seen with Samsung Galaxy series eg. s7 was 1st phone to complete 4 years of security updates back from 2016 when it was released. But for ppl like myself who have the Galaxy Note 10 plus a £1200 powerhouse it is inexcusable that Android 11 will be last software update after the phone has been in release for 1 year (given that it comes before the end of year).
  • Why is having the latest Android OS so important? Your phone won't stop working all of a sudden. Security updates are far more important than OS updates. Good article from Sammobile about how Android OS updates are not that important on non stock phones
  • This article is spot on, it's embarrassing that most Android flagships only get 2 years of OS updates (as opposed to 5 years on every iPhone) and some of these flagships coat more than the most expensive iPhone (I'm looking at you Galaxy S20 Ultra) the iPhone 11 Pro Max (512GB model and sat what you want about iOS and I've said plenty already, but for software support alone the iPhone can justify its high prices and even though the iOS software is often very buggy, it's at least fixed quickly because of Apple's advantage in controling both the software and hardware where are most OEM apart from Google (who design the Android software) have to rely on Google for the software and in the case of Samsung and a feel OEMs who use a skin on top of Android they take take longer to fix any bugs or glitches with them having to incorporate their skin and tweaking it to work with their UI but lets be honest are no longer an issue anymore but is only a problem when it comes to platform updates which is notoriously slow on Android outside of a Pixel, OnePlus or Android One (if it's recent Nokia mid range phone). So as the top dog of Android, Samsung should be leading by example in software support. To @bigsmoke79, you should be s prophet lol.
  • Like I said above Pal I'm only messing I knew this was subject close to your heart and you'd be posting, all disagreements aside it's a disgrace that top android flagships aren't supported longer and I don't care what the excuses are, quite simply if your charging a customer in excess of £1000 for a phone you should be made to support it for at least 3/4 years. The EU are wanting phones in future fitted with replaceable batteries to save on phones being scrapped when the battery dies and I love it if it happens.
  • I know you're just joking 😜. At least we can agree on Android updates being a disgrace but I'm not keen on going back to removable batteries in phones as that's so outdated now, maybe they could make it easier to replace the battery our selves.
  • For sure some phones are designed in such a way as to make it nearly impossible to replace the battery at all! But as I said above...look at a video of the OnePlus 7 Pro tear down and you will see that replacing the battery is what I would call easy! Now if you mess up the back glass...throw on some tape, slap it back in the case you are no doubt using anyway, and your good to go!
  • I completely agree with these points. I used the original Pixel for 3 years, and it was more than capable of using Android 10 on 2016-era software.
    I think the other issue here is Right To Repair. Apple touts 5 years of software updates, but a 5 year old iPhone is going to be so throttled to protect the failing Lithium-Ion battery that it may not be very functional. Apple does offer to replace your battery for a price, but the fact remains that battery technology cannot keep up. I feel that one of the more common reasons for upgrading is for better battery life.
    Better software update policies and right to repair OR affordable battery replacements are the next step Android needs to take.
  • Here's an unpopular opinion; I'm not convinced that even the regular security updates are important for an average user who only uses the google play store to update their apps. I've never seen an actual widespread security breach on android where users noticed anything wrong, which is amazing given how many android devices in the world are way behind on updates. Maybe we're all just talking to ourselves...and what the manufacturers like Lenovo know is that the security updates really aren't critical at all, and more users get annoyed at system updates than actually appreciate them.
  • I agree with you and I'm one of the people who never give security a second thought. That's not me being arrogant I just think that the moment you sign in to Google or iTunes or buy something online you wave goodbye to secrecy and confidentiality. I still use a phone on Android 6 marshmallow and have never had a problem with security. I'm not saying people don't hack phones and steal data and stuff but I think if you can hack into one phone you can hack them all if they determined enough. I may end up eating my words but I'm not gonna get all paranoid coz my phone's security is out of date. It still works great and does what I need and when it packs up I'll buy a new phone. Simple
  • You're conflating security and privacy. Obviously you don't care about either, just like most people.
  • Maybe you don't care now but you will when you're hacked on your phone running an outdated version of Android which will be your own arrogant fault.
  • Please re read what I wrote as I'm only speaking about myself and I did say that my lack of care in this area may come back to bite me. I'm not being flippant or arrogant it's my own personal stance and I am happy to accept any consequence of my lack of care in this area. And Beno please try not to jump down people's throats before properly reading what they have written.
  • Ok I re read your article and I understand where your point, your happy with your phone with a version of Android as far back as marshmallow then that's fine as you understand the risks involved in using such an old version of Android such as certain apps will soon no longer be supported as I'm sure Google has stopped support as far as security is concerned but Android Marshmallow is now vulnerable to the latest security exploits that affect Android so you know if anything happens to your phone now it's your responsibility. Good that you understand that so it's at your own risk you continue to use an outdated version of Android in 6.0 Marshmallow.
  • I could care less. I get my apps from the PlayStore, don't surf suspicious sites, don't open suspicious email. I've never had an issue from the S3 onward.
  • You said that now but you'll care when it happens to YOU!
  • Can you point to a case where an exploit has actually been used in the wild? I'm not talking about hypotheticals; an actual case where a significant number of people were hacked, and real damage was inflicted.
  • I've had my account hacked but to be fair I was using a cheap Android Chinese phone. But malware can still get through the Play Store due to Google being so lax in policing the Play Store.
  • That sucks, and I fully agree that identify theft is a real problem; I use a yubikey and/or TOTP on all my accounts. But I am not convinced that my stock Nexus 5x is actually meaningfully more risky to use as a daily driver than my Pixel 3a.
  • I am very sorry that this happened to you. But I never understood why people put the blame, if partially, on "cheap Chinese android" phones. Unless it is not a google certified phone, the security of the apps o the play store is Google's job. And if you are using chrome, it is still google's problem. That is the case on google certified "cheap Chinese android" phones" as well as android flagships from established manufacturers.
    P.S. Non-google certified phones should never be used, so I am counting them out.
  • Agree with this.
  • When it comes to Flagship level phones, manufacturers should take the initiative and push the envelope and provide at least 3 OS level updates with security updates going until Google stops providing them for the OS. Not a set time frame of an additional year or so, but until Google stops finding and fixing the security of the platform. Security updates are really the more important part. Feature upgrades and changes are great, sometimes. As mentioned, many avoid the platform updates for fear that the functionality of any one aspect of use may become intolerable and ruin the experience. Security on the other hand is paramount.
    That said, providing platform updates will in turn extend the overall lifespan of a device. With so much personal and financial information stored on phones today, security updates become SO important. Google typically supports security updates for several years beyond the platform release. Potentially this could meet or exceed the 4-5 years iOS is touting and extend that end of life.
    I'm not going to expect miracles. But I do expect some logic to be used. If Google is still sending out security updates for a 5 year old platform, that platform is still viable. Sure it will be lacking in the overall experience, but it is safe to use for day-to-day operations and use of NFC type payments etc. Updates to the existing platform can still be done and bring some new features that are in a newer platform, but that comes with the risk of complications and bring more headache than joy.
    So it's not "just" the platform updates, but the actual life of the platform. Once Google stops providing security updates to an OS level, that is what should signify the end of life for a device. Not because the device manufacturer decided it just aged out of relevance, but because Support has ended for the platform by Google.
  • I am afraid the general public does not care. Otherwise Pixel and Android One phones would be much more in demand.
  • iPhone users care about updates and security when is clued up on it but the average user is not informed and would care if OEMs including Apple emphasized the importance of updating your phone for security reasons.
  • Exactly, Willem. Pixel is the most secure Android device you can purchase. I didn't say private, I said secure. I have no issues with big brother Google spying on me, if it makes my experience better.
  • Again the general public does not care. You can determine yourself how much Google can spy on you. Or use Duckgogo or make use of a VPN. You can also ask Google to delete all the data they have gathered in compliance with the GDPR.
  • How about stop bloating the OS so it can be more easily updated?
    Or going open-source after two years so it can be updated by the general public, or handed over to a consortium like the teams on XDA?
  • It's not a bloated OS causing issues. It's because companies (including Google itself) have to use closed hardware that they have no control of. Samsung, LG, Google, etc. can not build a new Android kernel without support from Qualcomm, legally anyway. It's not too difficult to reverse engineer one into place which is why the teams on XDA can do it, but Qualcomm would sue the shit out of Samsung if they did it. This is why it's simple for NVIDIA to update the Shield TV for 6 years — they control the SoC firmware and kernel drivers. Samsung could have done the same for Exynos models, but you can imagine the uproar and class-action noises if Samsung supports the Exynos GS9 longer than it supports the Qualcomm version. The only solution is for OEM's to negotiate for longer support windows from companies like Qualcomm and Broadcom and pass that cost increase along to all of us, just like Google has done with the Pixel. So yeah, it all sucks.
  • How is One Plus updating their 5 series with the 835 longer than Samsung and the S8 and Note 8 from the same calendar year? One Plus does not have the resources of Samsung. Seems like the OEM's do have a choice no??
  • OnePlus 5 series is the last OnePlus phone to get that kind of support as they've already dropped the 6 series from their beta program so it's unlikely the OnePlus 6T will get Android 12 as Android 11 looks like it's going to be it's last update and the 7T series will only get to Android 12 before OnePlus may drop support for it, I could be wrong and I hope I am but it doesn't look good for the 6/6T series though but OnePlus did support the 3)3T series all the way to Android 9 Pie so you never know.
  • Because OnePlus is smart and knows that its customers care a lot more than most of Samsung's customers do. Also, the support contract could be based on the actual price or numbers of phones sold. Or OnePlus could be saying FU Qualcomm and just doing it because that would be the most OnePlus thing to do ever (kidding. I think.)
  • Does it suck? Or is it a trade off for which most people comply? Cheaper phones without updates. Thanks for the explanation btw.
  • You're absolutely right and I've never thought of it that way. Thanks!
  • For many just hearing that there's an update to their phone sends shivers down their spine. If it was explained better people might feel more secure knowing it would help them in the end. People though only here the horror stories of bricked phones and poor performance after an update. Thing is they're not far from right on that matter. The OEM's have a large chunk of responsibility for this. They either aren't able to make the changes or really don't care (latter is more likely but lenovorolla has proven their also highly incompetent to). This is where Google needs to step up and fix it so the update comes straight from them bypassing both the OEM'S and the carriers. They have a workable solution in Android 11. Will they actually go through with that is the question.
  • Updates are a major consideration when buying a new phone and if that OEM is bad with software support them I avoid them no matter how good their software is, case I point OnePlus, they are good with OS updates but bad with security updates and tend to miss the critical ones with their ridiculous bimonthly security updates policy so even though I like oxygen OS, I won't be buying another OnePlus phone (I currently own a 7T) for that reason and will be going with a Pixel because even Android One updates are only 2 years of platform updates and 3 years of security updates, which isn't good enough when Apple is supporting their iPhones for 5 years and then there's the Android OS adoption rate which is just as bad as the software support when only a tiny minority are running the latest version of Android and this is the part of Android's reputation that is well and truly deserved.
  • Oh, and by-the-way...I just got another update about an hour ago on my OnePlus 7 Pro (using Oxygen updater). So yah, they said bi-monthly and that's what they do. I knew their policy going in so no surprises for me.
  • I don't like this, it I had known about this I would never have gotten my 7T, because OnePlus misses critical security updates with their ridiculous bimonthly updates policy and reviews always gloss over this issue because my Nokia 8.1 which uv had for s year has been updated monthly without fail even if it's been close to the end of the month so OnePlus update policy is unacceptable to me and it doesn't look like their going to change so my 7T is my first and last OnePlus phone for me which is a shame because I really like Oxygen OS (I also use Oxygen Updater for my updates as OnePlus had become slow with updates now) but constant updates matter more to me so that's why I chose Pixel going forward we my secondary phone to complement my iPhone 11 (my main phone when I get it in August when my contract allows). Because updates are just as important to me on Android.
  • I am not a Techie and think this is a good article and point. That is why my next phone will be a Pixel. But I am not sure if Google itself does longer than 2 years on their own phones. sigh - :( And, I don't buy the argument Android is too complex for updates. It's more about $ and time. This is one of the only reasons Apple is ahead of the android curve. Just FYI Chromebooks are everywhere and get longer time one updates. I believe it is for 3 years.
  • The last I heard some chrome books are getting updated for up to SEVEN years.
  • If iPhone users didn't care about updates, then why is it that every year, iOS has a higher OS adoption rate that Android? Because most iPhone users update their iPhones to the latest version of iOS every year and that should embarrass Android even more.
  • The only way your analogy would compare to Android is if say Samsung made their own OS to go along with their phones, then all Samsung phones would be on the same version. Remember that Apple not only makes the hardware, but it also makes the software, which gives them an advantage for sure.
  • That's exactly my point because Apple makes the software and hardware it's easier for them to update their phones for longer and a major factor in why more than 50% (probably 70% ) of iOS devices are always running the latest version of iOS. Android is never going to match that due to the fragmentation of Android devices, especially mid range Android phones that ship with older versions of Android and barely get updated paste that version.
  • Samsung have lost me as a customer in future. I have had many Samsung phones, I used to change phones every 4 to 6 months and I always had 2 phones at once. Now I have a Note 9 purchased release date and also a OnePlus 6T purchased release day. I love both phones and can't fault my Note9 but Samsung has lost my custom because the Note 9 launched with Oreo an out of date OS and in January received Pie.April this year it received Android 10,and that's it folks game over for OS updates after only 20 months, that's an expensive joke.
    After being with Android for 10 years, next time I am looking for a new phone Apple will e on my radar.
  • The only way this is going to happen is through legislation. We need to require by law that devices will get a minimum level of support. I'd start with monthly security patches for 4 years and platform updates for 3 years. That should be the minimum for all devices...and it would hopefully push companies like Google to offer even longer support as a differentiator. We also need to mandate that OEMs provide affordable and warranted battery and display replacements for a minimum amount of time (4 years). Additionally, we need to require OEMs to have buy-back/recycling programs for old devices. They are producing these products and they should be responsible for understanding the impact to the planet and mitigating that impact. These types of regulations should apply to consumer products of all types. We need to put an end to throwaway consumer culture and it starts with regulating the companies that make the products. We need to keep these corporations in check or they are going to keep doing what they do best: Making profits at the expense of their customers and the planet.
  • I think those on here saying that the general public doesn't care about update, there is some truth to this but that's only because they're not informed and they really should be more informed about updates, especially for security reasons.
  • It's easy to say that Android devices should OS updates for more years, but the reality is that doing so costs more. Phone makers either have to software developers off designing new stuff to work on keeping older models updated or they have to hire new staff. Ultimately it comes down to us, the smartphone buyers, to demonstrate a willingness to pay more to meet these extra costs. Sadly most Android buyers have the attitude: I paid 99 cents for an app once, and I expect free updates for life. One solution to this problem would be to buy the equivalent of an extended product warranty. So for a percentage surcharge at the point of sale consumers could get a promise of OS updates for an extra two years, for example. This would allow smartphone manufacturers to create (and pay) divisions dedicated to keeping existing smartphones up to date longer. BUT it all hinges on the consumers' willingness to pay for the extra service.
  • I think when you cough up the price of a laptop that lasts 5-10 years, we are already paying up for the privilege of getting longer software updates. Don't be fooled into thinking that Samsung and Apple aren't making boo-koo profit off of these phones.
  • I'd say Apple is making more "boo Koo profit" from iPhones and their long software support is a big reason why I'm returning to an iPhone, if I'm going to pay a sky high premium for a flagship phone then it might as well be an iPhone.
  • The last sentence in your first paragraph hit the nail right on the mother effing head.
  • Why not just allow users to put AOSP Android on their phones after you stop supporting upgrades?
  • Yes, I totally agree, especially when paying a g-whizz for a flagship? 5yrs mandatory, but I would gladly except four, yikes. Wishful thinking, HUH!
  • I'd be more willing to pay for an Android flagship if that OEM promised to support the phone with OS updates for 5 years then I'd more willing to drop a grand on am Android flagship but as things stand only Apple will get my money for that reason along with a few others I've already stated.
  • Unless Android OEMs support their phones with OS updates for longer than 3 years, 5 years tops then I would consider am Android flagship but that's not likely to happen so Apple is getting my money for that reason along with other reasons which I've already stated.
  • Article is on target! I'm paying mortgage payments for a phone the least you can do{OEM} is give me 3 years of software updates and 3.5 or 4 years of security updates. I heard it's very technical updating but all the R&D they put into cameras, batteries, screens and other features, R&D should know Android consumers want updates as well. Just my 2 cents!
  • More than just software updates are a must...when paying these prices for a phone the hardware also needs to last longer than 2 in BATTERY REPLACEMENTS!
    Either make the battery end user replaceable, or make it easy to do so with a few tools. This is why I use the OnePlus 7 Pro. I do not like the curved screen, but after watching a few videos on how easy it is to open it up and replace the battery, I was sold! Watch for yourself and see. It is one of the easiest there is....and...I could buy 2 or 3 at the price I paid compared to one S20 Ultra @ full retail.
  • Wasn't Project Treble supposed to fix this?
  • Nope, project treble was supposed to speed up updates and make it things easier for OEMs to update their phones to the latest version of Android mote quickly.
  • Hey AC... appreciate your 'listening'. With all honesty, been thinking that my Note 9 will continue to receive OS Updates 'maybe' through the end of this year or into the early or mid part of next. The phone is running exceptionally well, had one new factory battery replacement done in February. I really don't want to transition to iOS but I will for more OS Updates and dual sim capability. We'll see what unfolds. Like I said before, the industry has to listen... and... deliver more updates! The phones, at these prices... and customers... BOTH deserve this.
  • As a long time Note user the situation is even worse. In reality you only get one update since the phone is always one Android version behind when it is released.
  • Totally agree, 1000 euro and the phone receives 20 months of OS updates. Really not acceptable.
  • Being a Pixel 4XL owner, this detail played a good part in why I picked up this device. Say what you want about it, there are valid arguments on both fronts, as far as whether it was worth the price or not(personally, I had no issue dropping a grand to secure one of the limited editions, rather than wait, like most people did, til they went on sale. Ofc, by then, the limited edition wasn't available). But the fact that I will be rocking A13, while Samsung and OP leave you hanging at A12, tells me I made the right choice... Who's laughing now? 😂
  • You are spot on, my next phone will be some sort of pixel or, dare I say it here, a half eaten piece of fruit.
  • For me , not only the 2 years of supports is not enough but also updating 3 generations of their flagship devices the same day or at least the same month , I don't want to wait 6 months to get the update after the first year and 11 months for the second year , that's unacceptable!
    I like Android but this is the reason I consider only two phones, Pixel or iPhone
  • You praise APPLE who routinely locks out folks from ANY updates of apps or OS ? My Apple iTouch has been frozen in time for years....meanwhile I can update my OnePlus One to Android 10. Explain that. You should rename your site to APPLE CENTRAL.
  • I've seen this as an issue with iphones : even though your phone gets 5 years of updates, your phone gets slower and it's battery worse because the software is more designed to work with the latest hardware. I'd rather only get 2 years of software updates and knowing my phone won't get substantially slower and get worse battery life just because of an update. I got a Galaxy S10+ at launch for full price and I'm intending on keeping it for 3+ years. The software is already amazing and has more than enough features, I couldn't ask for anything better.
  • That's where you're wrong IPhones maintain their performance for longer than most Android phones with updates (unless your battery is shot) and software support is a major reason why iPhone with become my daily driver again in August with the iPhone 11 and plan on getting an iPad too.
  • I was to buy iPhone Pro Max 512gb it would cost RRP £1499, on eBay few months after launch about £1299 or more if I'm lucky. I got my Note 10 plus 5G 512gb for £775 via eBay in September one month after launch brand new sealed and after selling my Note 9 for £600 only cost £175 upgrade. This year I will likely do the same wait till end of September and get Note 20 and sell the 10 plus and upgrade for few hundred. Doing this yearly keeps me in the latest handset and updates for a few hundred or less a year, I appreciate not everyone has the money or wants to change phones etc but this works for me premuim flagship little output and latest updates.
  • You shouldn't have to buy a new phone to get the latest version of Android but then with Samsung phones they're always a version behind with the software it ships with
  • This is why it is so important that Google develop it's own SoC. That is why Apple can support their phones for such a long time, they control the whole process. Google is at the mercy of Qualcomm for driver/firmware whom will not/cannot support for longer than 3 years. If they made their own SoC like Apple does, with the A series chips, Google would be able to provide many years of support for their Pixel phones. Let's hope that happens sooner rather than later
  • You hit the nail on the head, unless Qualcomm is willing to support their SoCs for longer than 3 years with the required software drivers and firmware then this situation with not change with only 2 years of software support.
  • Liked this for me when upgrading my device... software/security updates is amongst the top 3 primary phone is an iPhone 8plus & OnePlus 7pro as a secondary the Android universe I do always feel apart from Google Pixel, OnePlus is the only brand giving importance to updates...hope they retain this the pixel lineup but they are overpriced in India...maybe will consider the 4A XL when launched... iOS is years ahead in this regards...even if I upgrade my 8plus with the upcoming 12 series it will certainly not be for lack of updates but battery & better screen/cam etc...
  • Yeah, I bought a P3a during the Memorial Day sale for just this reason. I like the Moto G's, have owned 4, but they screw me on the updates. The G7 is still behind and would only get one more update. None of this makes sense. About half the global economy is hacks, spoofs, scams, and exploits. It's time to lock down my phones, my browsers, my credit cards, everything. The lack of security is the real problem. The low end is full of Android 8 phones? How does that work out? Is it true that using a VPN with an outdated Android solves most of the security issues? What do we do, just heave 18 month low end phones?
  • I agree with the article (and Beno by default!), but only to a point.
    Security updates should be for 5 years or longer.
    Platform updates should be for 3 years, unless they can assure that further updates will not ruin the device.
    As much applause as Apple receives for updates, I know as a long term iPhone user that by the fourth platform update, the hardware is at its limit. The fifth update is only damages the user experience most of the time. The iPhone 5c runs so poorly that anyone but a child using it as a toy would be frustrated. My 5S is just a novelty because I could not use it as a normal phone again. The iPhone 6 is sluggish and pretty much end of life. It is not a happy user experience. My old M8 only got two platform updates, but you know what? It still runs good. I keep it in my laptop bag as a backup because it's still satisfying to use.
    Meanwhile, My iPhone 6S Plus has had 4 platform updates and what seems like hundreds of bugfix updates, and it's performance is hurting. I think the best of both worlds is staying on top of security updates for a long time, and balancing platform updates so they do not push beyond the hardware capabilities. Interestingly, my 4 year old HTC U11 was updated THIS morning (software build 3.37.617.2), and it actually seems faster. I could still totally rock a U11 as my daily driver. My 6S Plus is still updating and is so hot that it's uncomfortable to hold, so we'll see how that turns out.
  • The reason why your 5c I. particular, 5s and iPhone 6 are sluggish is in due to those phones having only duel cores and aren't as power efficient as say the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and in the case of the iPhone 5c, it is running on ,32-bit architecture as apposed to the 64-bit on the 5s owward.
  • Honestly if Essential could do it, then so should Shamsung (Samsung) I stopped purchasing Samsung devices after I was burnt two times buy them. Once with the Note 3 and again with the the Note 10.1 tablet, none of those devices received many if any updates. Which honestly is crazy for flagship devices. One+ has been doing it also with the One+ 5 getting an update to 10. So what's Shamsung's lie about not updating the software, and Huawei if they ever get their ability to continue should also follow suit.
  • I totally agree. Although 3 years is obviously better than 2, all phones should get at least 4 years of updates, OS and Security.
    They already take away our rights to repair, if we can keep the phone functional for 4 years, the company should support it.
    I understand they can't keep everything up to date forever, but it's a expiration date no one really pays attention to and the companies definitely don't disclose!
    Plus if they'd keep any of their products still running up to date, it would cut down on lots of software exploits and people getting scammed.
  • Manufacturers should unlock their boot loaders and make it easy to root if they aren't going to update.
  • I would be satisfied just to see the few OS updates that are released operate properly without the slew of bugs that result in everything from green tinted screens to abysmal battery life.
  • I think a better article would be that you don't need a $1000 phone and that you don't need to upgrade every year or two.
  • Besides the Pixel getting 3 years of major Android updates, OnePlus has done a very good job in this area, even better than Samsung. The OnePlus 5T is about to get Android 10. But I absolutely agree with this article, $1000 phones should get Android updates for 3 or 4 years AND NOT WAITING 9 MONTHS AFTER RELEASE TO GET THE LATEST VERSION (LOOKING AT YOU SAMSUNG) 👀
  • In my opinion... A Samsung flagship costing closer to 1500 that to a 1000 should get minimum 3 version Android updates and security for 4 to 5 years.
    Anything else is just greed from Samsung.
  • I've come to the conclusion that OEMs need to start making their own SoCs like Google's reportedly doing and boycott Qualcomm as that's the only way the update situation will change, Samsung already has their Exynos series so Samsung has no excuses not to update their phones for more than 2 years to the latest version of Android, after all they are the 800 pound gorilla of Android and by everyone investing in their own SoCs, they'll be able to match Apple not only in longer software support, but in performance as well, imagine a OnePlus phone with OnePlus own custom SOC, which would be even faster than a Qualcomm powered OnePlus phone.
  • I think the criticism around Android updates is over the top. Under a manufacturers skin most people couldn't tell what version of Android they are running and not being on the latest Android OS doesn't affect how your phone performs. Many new features can be introduced via the manufacturers skin which often get's features before stock Android. Having said all that 3 years of updates feels a lot better for flagships and midrangers. I think budget phones would suffer performance issues with 3 years of OS updates however - 3 years of security updates and one OS update would suffice
  • Totally agree! With Apple's iOS 14 looking more like Android, I don't think that I'll be buying another Android phone. There's just no excuse! Software is the most malleable part of the product and Apple owns it. I adore Android and the phones but you just can't keep this up.