Despite Google’s best efforts, achieving prompt updates across the Android range continues to be a tough nut to crack. Due to the fractured nature of Android, major OS updates tend to be pushed out by individual phone manufacturers rather than Google — so while Google may have introduced Android 9.0 Pie in August, many manufacturers still haven’t updated eligible phones to Google’s latest operating system.
Waiting for the newest version of Android and all its cool new toys can be frustrating, and we try to keep you abreast of the Android 9.0 Pie update schedule where we can — but some manufacturers are worse than others when it comes to updates. New website AOSMark is ranking manufacturers based on their reliability for Android updates, and it has released its first report of the best 20 Android manufacturers.
Google sits atop the list, with a score of 3.5 updates on average for each of its phones. Since the Pixel (and previous Nexus) range are always the first to receive the latest version of Google-made Android, and tend to be supported for a few major updates, this is no surprise. What is surprising though is that OnePlus comes second on the list with a score of 2.75. OnePlus phones originally ran the Android fork CyanogenOS, so it’s ironic the Chinese company has become such a strong Android advocate in the last few years.
Nokia comes in third at 1.82, thanks in large part to its embrace of the Android One program. Nokia’s phones run almost pure stock Android, so it’s much quicker to send out updates than companies who use a heavily modified Android skin — like Samsung or LG. Sony runs a similar almost-stock Android, and it’s been rewarded for this with a fourth-place position. Other well-known manufacturers don’t fare as well. Samsung finds itself in eighth position, while Motorola and HTC hit an unenviable eleventh and twelfth. Huawei, Xiaomi, and LG all find themselves in positions of shame with scores lower than 1 — meaning these three companies have not managed an average of a single major update across their released devices.
If those scores seem low to you, it’s worth pointing out how AOSMark formulates its numbers. Essentially, AOSMark awards points for each major update. Security updates and more minor updates don’t count (Android 7.1.0 to Android 7.1.1, for example), but the bigger API changes do — so an upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie counts, as does upgrading from Android 8.0 to 8.1.
What’s the point? Well, pressuring manufacturers into prompter upgrades is likely a big part of it, but it’s also about making sure consumers know their future upgrade prospects when they buy a phone. Consumers can expect a manufacturer with a lower score to be less reliable at upgrading a recently released budget phone, while a higher scored manufacturer will be more likely to send out major updates to even its cheapest phones.
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