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Qualcomm neglects $1,500 Snapdragon Insiders phone with sluggish updates

Qualcomm Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • The Qualcomm Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders launched July 2021 for $1,500 with high-end specs and "4 years of regular security updates."
  • It hasn't received a feature update since March or a security update since January.
  • After blowback, Qualcomm promised a 2-3 month interval for security updates moving forward.

When the overly-wordy Qualcomm Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders launched last July running on top-class ASUS hardware, we were genuinely impressed with the hardware and saw it as a tempting option for Android super-fans. But now those "insiders" are feeling abandoned, as the phone has yet to receive a security update since the January 2022 patch.

The ASUS release notes (opens in new tab) for the Snapdragon Insiders phone say it "updated [the] Android security patch" in March. But as XDA Developers (opens in new tab) reports, the phone actually remains on the January 2022 patch despite this claim. 

A 5-6 month gap certainly wouldn't qualify as a "regular" security update cadence, which Qualcomm has promised to deliver to the Snapdragon Insiders phone through summer 2025. 

In response to a Redditor's complaint, a Qualcomm representative said that "the next security patch will be released on 6/20, and new ones will be released every 2-3 months after that." It gave no word about feature updates or OS updates, however.

While better than nothing, quarterly updates are typically reserved for phones that are several years old with other OEMs. ASUS has historically struggled with updates but has seemingly done a better job in recent years. As for Qualcomm, its first attempt at a regularly updated phone isn't going as planned.

The Snapdragon Insiders phone remains on Android 11, despite the fact that ASUS phones like the Zenfone 8, Zenfone 7, and ROG Phone 6 have all received Android 12 already. Only the ROG Phone 3 has an update pending by the end of June; neither ASUS nor Qualcomm has said when it will receive Android 12, nor whether it'll get Android 13 or any other OS updates.

In terms of hardware, the phone runs on the Snapdragon 888 chip, has 16GB of RAM, sports an impressive 6.78-inch QHD 144Hz AMOLED display, and uses a triple-camera array with a 64MP Sony IMX686 main sensor. 

At the time of release, my coworker Jerry Hildenbrand wrote that it could be the "ultimate geek phone" but that you'd be "better off buying a Galaxy S21 Ultra" to get "better support." Even if Qualcomm lives up to its promise and becomes more consistent with updates, it appears he was right on the money.

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.