An Android update for your phone? A look at what each brand is promising

Has your Android smartphone received the Android 12 update? Will it get Android 13? Do you know how many years of updates your smartphone will get, if any at all? Software support is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone, yet it is often overlooked by both brands and customers.

Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android manufacturers are known to get away with a low number of system updates, usually about two Android versions, before focusing all of their attention on newer devices. Today we look at the various key brands that operate in the Indian smartphone market and what their Android update roadmap usually is for devices.

Disclaimer: Do keep in mind that brands may change their update plans for any of their phones or series (including current devices) in the future. Also note that the frequency of security patches is left vague by most brands, so if two phones are both set to receive three years of security updates, one may get one every month, while another phone may see a security update only once in three months . This is completely up to the brand.

OnePlus

OnePlus has usually been clear on giving three Android updates to its flagship phones, just like Google’s Pixel devices. Flagship phones like the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro will get three years of updates. However, OnePlus has been somewhat inconsistent with some lower-tier devices like the OnePlus 9R and the Nord series, and older flagships like the OnePlus 7 series.

This may have been because of the shift to a ColorOS-based codebase, and it remains to be seen if OnePlus will be able to offer the same support to its devices moving forward. This is because it now manufacturers a lot more models every year, instead of just one or two flagships. The availability of security updates is also not clear.

However, one silver lining is the frequent beta updates available for OnePlus devices, across both the number-series and the Nord series, which give users an opportunity to try out new features early on before a stable update.

Samsung

Samsung currently offers three years of Android updates and four years of security updates on most of its devices, becoming one of the most reliable brands right now in terms of software. This includes all of the flagship Galaxy S series, Galaxy Z series, Galaxy A series and “select” M-series phones.

Some of the lower-end M-series devices only get two years of system updates, but they will get four years of security patches. System updates for older devices will not be the quickest, due to newer phones getting priority. That said, Samsung has still been one of the quicker brands to push out updates for its older phones, both flagships and mid-range options.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s update cycle for its devices is a little tricky to understand, partly because of the brand’s MIUI update cycle which does not sync with the Android update cycle. For instance, you may see one Xiaomi phone running MIUI 13 based on Android 12, and another running MIUI 13 based on Android 11. How many updates a phone gets also varies depending on the device model.

Flagships like the Xiaomi 12-series are set to get three years of system updates (via MIUI updates) and four years of security patches. However, Xiaomi has fallen back on its promise before in this area. The Xiaomi 11T and 11T Pro were set to receive three years of system updates on launch. But after the phones were announced, the company’s website suggested the phones would be available for only two – Android 12 and Android 13.

Meanwhile, upper mid-range and midrange tier devices like the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G and the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ are listed for two years of system updates and three years of security patches.

Oppo and Realme

Oppo and Realme may offer different user interfaces on their phones – ColorOS and RealmeUI, but the brands share a similar update structure. Unlike Xiaomi, new ColorOS and RealmeUI versions correspond with the latest Android versions.

For royals like the GT 2 Pro, Realme will offer three years of system updates and four years of security patches. The same is also applicable for every device in the GT 2-series, as claimed by Realme. Meanwhile, the Realme GT Neo series is expected to get two years of system updates and three years of security updates. The brand recently rolled out Android 12 for the Realme GT Neo 2, though this is a beta build.

There’s no clarity on lower-end phones like the Realme C-series and the Narzo series. Remember, the Realme C12 was left out for the Android 12-powered Realme UI 3.0 update.

Among Oppo phones, the flagship Find-series receive three years of system updates and four years of security patches. For other devices like the Reno, F-series and K series phones, the company has not confirmed the update cycle.

Vivo and iQOO

Vivo currently offers three years of system updates and four years of security updates to its flagship X-series phones via FuntouchOS updates. However, X-series phones launched before the three updates promise (phones launched before July 2021) will not get this benefit, and will likely get on two years of updates,

Meanwhile, no information is available on other devices, including the brand’s T-series, V-series and U-series phones, which will likely get just one or two system updates depending on the segment of the device.

The iQOO brand offers FuntouchOS system updates for its phones. But flagships like the iQOO 9 Pro are restricted to two years of system updates and three years of security patches, which is underwhelming. Information on the brand’s Z-series devices is also unavailable, and these phones will likely also get a year or two of system updates.

Other brands

Brands like Motorola, Micromax and Infinix, all seem to have no fixed, concrete structure for Android system updates and security updates. The Android update plans differ based on each device. If you are getting a phone from one of these companies, a good practice is to find out individual information regarding updates for the model you are planning to get your hands on.

Google

Google is known for its promise of quick Android updates on the Pixel devices, which is understandable given that both the OS and the Pixel devices are made by the same company. This is also why developer beta builds for new Android versions also hit Pixel phones first.

Pixel phones have an update cycle of three years, irrespective of which phone and which variant you buy. If you buy a Pixel with Android 12, for instance, you will get the Android 15 update. Google also releases a number of security patches, usually once a month for these phones, making them one of the safest bets for consistent software support right now. But the Pixel phones are not available in India. The latest Pixel 6A is expected to come to the Indian market, according to some reports, but we will have to wait and see if that is the case.

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