Nokia-branded phones are getting updated to new versions of Android significantly faster than phones from Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, or any other major smartphone manufacturer, according to a new study.
Counterpoint Research found that 96 percent of Nokia phones sold since the release of Android Pie have either shipped with or been updated to the latest iteration of Android. Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei each have figures in the 80-plus percent range, but no other company that Counterpoint studied was even close. Lenovo and Oppo were below 50 percent, while LG, Vivo, and others were below 20 percent
Slow updates have been a perpetual problem for Android smartphones. Even flagship phones aren’t guaranteed to be running the latest version of Android out of the box, and updates to new versions tend to arrive slowly, if at all. Unlike iPhones, which tend to get support from Apple for four or more years, even the most expensive Android phones tend to have support fall off after two or three years. Google’s promise of three years of support for Pixel phones makes it a standout.
The situation has improved over time. Google has made changes to Android that make it easier for manufacturers to deliver timely updates, and it’s begun requiring that popular phones receive a minimum of two years of security updates, which are ultimately more important than feature updates.
Still, as Counterpoint shows, the situation is still bad for most phone manufacturers. Looking at their portfolio has a whole, updates take even longer, with only three phone brands — Nokia, Lenovo, and Xiaomi — having half of their portfolio running the latest version of Android a year after its release, according to the study.
Making all this worse: as Counterpoint points out, people are increasingly hanging onto the phones for longer. As that trend continues, a lack of updates is going to mean more people running outdated versions of Android, missing features and security updates and making life harder for developers who have to code to an even wider variety of devices.