Google has removed a portion of text from its Android One webpage, which stated that those devices would get two years of updates, guaranteed. This was a big selling point for any Android One smartphone, and thus prompted a number of people to inquire about it, as to why this was removed. Google has stated that nothing has changed, and that it sees no changes for Android One coming. Also reiterating that Android One devices will continue to get two years of updates from Google and its manufacturing partners. Two years of updates is still not a whole lot, especially when Apple is updating iPhones that are close to five years old at this point. But it is more than most Android OEMs are doing currently.
Software Updates Are The Main Selling Point of Android One
With Android One, the main selling point here is the consistent software updates. With many smartphone manufacturers taking their sweet time to get the latest version of Android rolled out to their devices, Android One was a breath of fresh air. Allowing Google to do most of the heavy lifting here, manufacturers are able to roll out these updates much faster. Though they are still not as fast as they should be, and this comes down to their semiconductor partners. Qualcomm, MediaTek and others need to release binaries for their chipsets for each version of Android. And typically, they start with their high-end chipsets and go on down from there. Typically, Android One smartphones are not the flagship, high-end smartphones. Which means that it's going to be a bit longer before these phones are updated, and it's out of the hands of a manufacturer like Xiaomi, and Google.
However, this two years of updates promise here is the same promise that Google offers to its own devices that it makes, in the Pixel lineup. It promises two years of Android version updates, and then three years or security updates. Arguably security updates are more important, so it makes sense that those are going to be around a bit longer. Many will still say that two years is not long enough, especially when most users are keeping their phones for two, three, four or more years these days, because their smartphones don't need to be replaced so soon now. And the fact that smartphones have mostly plateaued, so that there's not much reason to upgrade every year or even every other year, now.
Android One Partners Still Struggle To Rollout Updates Quickly
The whole reason why Android One exists is to get these updates out quickly. But that is still not happening. For a lot of smartphone makers, it boils down to the point where its Android One smartphone is not their flagship, or their high-end smartphone, it's usually a mid-range one that is sold in a couple of markets, or even less than that. So they aren't putting as much time and effort into their Android One smartphone, and it does make sense as to why. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't suck for those that buy the phone. Another variable here is what we spoke about earlier, with the processors, the binaries need to come out first before they can even start to build the update for a particular phone.
There's really only one Android One partner that is really good about getting its updates out in a timely manner, and that would be Nokia/HMD Global. However, the caveat there is that Nokia only does Android One or Android Go phones, so that once it gets one update ready, most of the hard work has been done. Making it easier to roll it out to other models in its lineup. There are only a handful of smartphones that currently run on Android Pie, and about half of them are Nokia-branded smartphones.
Smartphone Makers Would Rather Make A New Phone Than Update A Current Phone
The cost of developing, certifying and pushing out an update to a phone, is pretty pricey these days. We are talking in the millions – and that's just for certification. So for many smartphone makers, they would rather simply release a new smartphone than to update their current lineup of smartphones. It's cheaper and the return of investment is larger too. This is especially true for larger smartphone makers that can easily push out a brand new device without it costing them a whole lot. But that's not something that customers want to deal with. Customers don't want to have to buy a new smartphone just to get the next version of Android, or even to get the latest security patches from Google.