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Do updates come to Amazon Alexa Built-in Phones at the same time as other models?

LG G8
LG G8 (Image credit: Android Central)

Best answer: When Amazon had its previous Prime Exclusive program, it came down to a per-device basis. Some Prime Exclusive Phones received updates just as fast as their non-Prime counterparts, whereas others took around a month or longer to be updated. It remains to be seen if things will be any different with the new Alexa Built-in program.

  • Hands-free Alexa access: Moto G7 (opens in new tab) ($290 at Amazon)
  • Alexa push-to-talk: Moto G7 Play (opens in new tab) ($200 at Amazon)

What we know from Amazon's Prime Exclusive Phones

A few years back, Amazon introduced something it called "Prime Exclusive Phones." This was the precursor to Alexa Built-in Phones, giving Amazon Prime subscribers exclusive discounts on a select group of Android handsets.

As a tradeoff for that discount, Prime Exclusive Phones came with pre-installed Amazon apps and advertisements on the lock screen. In some cases, this affected the speed at which Prime Exclusive Phones received software updates compared to their other unlocked counterparts.

Specifically, with Nokia and LG phones, we saw instances where it took a month longer for the Prime Exclusive variants of the LG G6 and Nokia 6 to get updated to Android Oreo compared to their non-Prime versions. At the same time, Prime Exclusive models of the Moto X4 and Moto G4 got major updates within a few days of their regular unlocked versions.

Looking ahead with Alexa Built-in Phones

In 2019, Amazon's Prime Exclusive Phones are no more. In their place, we have Alexa Built-in Phones. These don't have a special discount, can be purchased by Prime and non-Prime customers alike, and don't have ads on the lock screen. Instead, you get a phone with pre-installed Amazon apps and easy access to Alexa — available in both Hands-Free and Push-to-Talk flavors.

Since Alexa Built-in Phones are so new, we've yet to see how software updates will be handled for them.

We're hoping that they don't take any longer compared to non-Alexa models, but seeing as how Amazon's now adding its own custom hot word detection and customizing the power button to open Alexa, that added functionality could result in longer waiting times for updates.

The only Alexa Built-in Phones being sold right now come from Motorola and LG, two companies that are notorious for slow software support. You're going to be waiting a while anyway for updates if you buy a phone from either company, so if you really want that added Alexa functionality, you might as well buy the Alexa Built-in model and risk potentially waiting a little longer for an update.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.