AOSMark has compiled a list of the smartphone makers that update their phones the most, and at the top of the list is Google, OnePlus and Nokia (in that order). Of course, this should come as no surprise, given the fact that Google has always been first to update its smartphones with the latest version of Android – one of the main advantages to getting a Nexus, and now a Pixel smartphone. But OnePlus and Nokia have both really improved when it comes to updating their smartphones.
Google has a score of 3.5, OnePlus with 2.75 and Nokia with 1.82. This means that Google will likely send out three to four OS updates in the lifespan of a phone. OnePlus is closer to three and Nokia closer to two. AOSMark only factors in operating system updates, when the phone changes its API level. So smaller bug fixing updates and security patches are not included here. It also does not factor in how long it takes companies to upgrade their smartphones. Though, the ones that do take longer are usually not going to update it as many times as those that update sooner. For instance, LG and ASUS are usually pretty slow with updates, and they are at the bottom of the list. Xiaomi is near the bottom too with a score of 0.93. Now that might be a surprise to many, seeing as MIUI has updates coming out almost every month. But as mentioned already, AOSMark only factors in operating system updates, which Xiaomi doesn't update as often as MIUI and sometimes it can be six months or more before their devices get a new version of Android.
AOSMark isn't perfect, but it gives you a good idea of how active some OEMs are with updates
If you read the FAQ's on AOSMark's website, it's not a perfect benchmark for updates. And this is primarily because it does only do Android version updates, which are the bigger updates, but not the only updates that a phone will get. It would also be nearly impossible to track every single update for every single smartphone out there. For instance, a US-variant of the LG G7 may get more updates than the South Korean model, so there would be many more entries into this database, making it tough to decipher. It also limited a bit more than that. For instance, if a phone gets a .0.1 update, like from Android 7.1 to Android 7.1.1, it is not considered an update since it is still the same API level.
AOSMark also does not factor in how quickly these updates are pushed out, which is something that users would like to see here. But that would also add another level of difficulty for AOSMark and could also add some bias in there. For instance, some people want their update the day Google makes it available, others are okay with it taking two to three or even four months to come to their device. To get out all of the kinks. So scoring how long it takes to get these updates out can be pretty tough too. The way that it is being done now is pretty smart on AOSMark's part.
Software Updates will always be the downfall for Smartphone makers
In the world of Android, we will never get the latest version of Android all on the same day, like Apple is able to do with its iPhone and iPad models. This is because there are simply to many different variables in place with Android. While Apple makes all of its processors for its smartphones and tablets, it makes it easier to update its smartphones all at the same time. With Android, you have many different processors from Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, Huawei and others that are all in play. And before an update can be rolled out, the binaries for that processor needs to be available to build that update, which means that companies like Nokia and OnePlus are waiting on their partners (usually Qualcomm).
Many smartphone users look at Apple and see how it is able to push out a major smartphone update to billions of users around the world on the same day – sometimes taking down the internet with it. And Google is not able to do anything like that, even with the Pixel, it is a staged rollout over a few weeks. This is because Apple has less models of the iPhone compared to Android, so it's easier to do that. Unfortunately, update issues will always be a problem on Android, and it's something that Google likely won't be able to ever fix completely.
HTC & Sony lead the way for the most updates to a particular smartphone
On top of listing the smartphone makers that offer the most updates, AOSMark also shows the phones that got the most OS updates. And at the top of the list is the HTC One Google Play Edition, which saw five OS updates in its lifetime. This may not come as a surprise, considering it was a Google Play Edition, so it was running stock Android and was getting updates straight from Google. Though, five is still a lot. Of course, when this came out in 2013, it was coming out on Jelly Bean, which saw three API changes before getting to Lollipop. So the number doesn't really mean a whole lot, since three of those operating system versions came out in the space of a year.
Also on the list for the most updates all-time is the Sony Xperia Z and Sony Xperia ZL. The rest of the list is full of, mostly, Android One, Nexus or Pixel smartphones, including the Nexus 6P from Huawei and the Nexus 5X from LG. Unsurprisingly, the Essential PH-1 is also on this list, coming in at around three updates. Considering the PH-1 was from a brand new company, seeing it get this many updates is pretty impressive. And it got Android Pie on day one, before many Pixel smartphones got the update, which was even more impressive.