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How Android Updates Really Work For Buyers


Android has one perceived weak spot when compared to iOS or Windows 10 Mobile: system updates. Whilst Apple manages to pump out new iOS versions to at least the last four generations of iPhone and Microsoft delivers new Windows 10 updates on an almost monthly basis, Android buyers face a more uncertain future.

Or do they?

Comparing like for like devices is illuminating. For example Sony delivered two major updates to its Xperia Z3 range, taking them from KitKat to Marshmallow via Lollipop. A similar story is true for the HTC One M8, LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5, which follow the same path of upgrades. Interestingly the Nexus 5 won't be receiving the Nougat update either, giving the lie to the Nexus promise of better upgradeability.

The iPhone 6 - a phone of a similar vintage - has already received the latest version of iOS and will undoubtedly be receiving iOS 11 and 12 too.

A solid point for Apple then?

Not in the big picture. You'll probably be to busy juggling the storage on your 16GB iPhone 6 to worry about updates, or like many you'll have had to delete content just to get them to install. And in all that time you'll have done without the benefits of bigger, brighter, more pixel dense screens, expandable memory, waterproofing and better cameras.

And just at the point where Apple's upgrade policy is about to pay dividends you need to upgrade your iPhone anyway, because its battery is dying, the storage is full and the buttons aren't working well any more. And you'll have paid a premium for this privilege too.

Assuming that you'll win the smartphone game because your iPhone offers a better upgrade promise is a theoretical win only. The chances of you retaining your smartphone long enough to reap the benefit are slim.

Android OEMs need to speed up the rate at which they deliver upgrades once Google makes them available, but in terms of the number of updates they're delivering they're doing just fine.

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