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How many Android updates does Samsung, Xiaomi or OnePlus offer?


An increasingly important purchase criterion for many, software update schedules of Android smartphones continue to remain cloudy among manufacturers. Do you want to know whether your smartphone will receive Android 11 or Android 12? Well, good luck!

With the exception of Google, Samsung or OnePlus, few manufacturers make concrete and especially written commitments about the number of Android versions and the number of years that their smartphones are guaranteed for when it comes to security updates.

All too often, we had to make do with vague informal promises or even having to “guess” just how many updates a smartphone will receive based on the software updates of previous models (such as Xiaomi). Hence, I contacted some of the most represented Android manufacturers in terms of units sold and market share last year.

I asked them to inform me officially, for each device in their current catalog, just how many Android versions and security updates will the concerned models will receive. While some played along and cooperated, consumers will often remain confused as to how long and how often will their smartphone be updated.

Summary:

How many Android and security updates does Google promise

I know that the interest of mentioning Google in this article is rather limited in its scope since the question of transparency and clarity of its update policy does not arise.

Google clearly indicates just how long and how often its Pixel smartphones will be updated. You can find all this information via its official website.

But since not everyone is aware of this (which is natural), I’ll quickly remind you that Google’s Pixels currently benefit from at least 3 versions of Android and at least 3 years of monthly security patches after their release.

After those three years are over, smartphones will continue to receive security patches for 18 months after the end of the said model’s shelf life on the official Google store.

How many Android and security updates does Samsung promise

Samsung has recently become the best example when it comes to security and software updates among third-party Android manufacturers. Concerning its latest flagships, Samsung has recently committed to offering 3 major Android update versions and 4 years of security updates.

Samsung Galaxy A52 A72
The Samsung Galaxy A52, a mid-range smartphone, will receive 3 Android versions and 4 years of security patches / © Didecs / Shutterstock.com

Samsung’s official commitment

“Samsung allows all Galaxy smartphones to receive at least two Android system updates and regular security updates for up to four years after being launched in the global market,” a Samsung Germany representative informed me.

Samsung smartphone update cycles

Samsung Galaxy S:

  • Android versions: 3 if released in 2019 or later
  • Security updates: 4 years, monthly patch for 2 years followed by quarterly patches

Samsung Galaxy Note:

  • Android versions: 3 if released in 2019 or later
  • Security updates: 4 years, monthly patch for 2 years followed by quarterly patches

Samsung Galaxy Z:

  • Android versions: 3
  • Security updates: 4 years, monthly patch for 2 years followed by quarterly patches

Samsung Galaxy A:

  • Android versions: 2 minimum, 3 for some flagships
  • Security updates: 4 years, monthly patches for some flagships for 1 year, then quarterly or half-yearly in the last year

Samsung Galaxy M:

  • Android versions: 2 minimum
  • Security updates: 4 years, quarterly or even half-yearly in the last year

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

Samsung distinguishes itself from other Android manufacturers by presenting a clear list of models kept up to date. This list is available online and you can check just how often your smartphone will receive security updates.

On the other hand, Samsung doesn’t make it clear just how long your smartphone will receive monthly updates or what kind of criteria are taken into account when deciding on the frequency of update releases over time. “The timing of monthly, quarterly, and half-yearly security updates depends on the launch date of the device and is re-evaluated at regular intervals,” Samsung said.

This can lead to contradictions. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy A72 that was released this year will receive quarterly security patches while the cheaper and less capable Galaxy A52 which was released at the same time receives monthly patches.

How many Android and security updates does Xiaomi promise

Xiaomi isn’t the worst example around when it comes to software updates. But it’s one of the only major manufacturers who refuse to be transparent and provide any kind of guarantees. It is still possible to “guess” the unofficial update policy for its Xiaomi smartphone based on previous models, although we have seen an improvement in recent times.

On average, we should not expect more than 2 Android versions for flagships and 1 version for the rest of the devices. Mi fans will scream in my face that it’s the MIUI versions that counts above all else, as these do indeed extend the software update cycle of Xiaomi smartphones.

As for security patches, this obscure Xiaomi page mentioned that the manufacturer offers at least 2 years of monthly and quarterly security updates after the initial release of the smartphone. For most models that were released in 2020/2021, the manufacturer even extended this promise to 3 years with a security patch once every 90 days.

NextPit Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra will most likely receive less updates than a mid-range smartphone from Samsung albeit at a higher frequency / © NextPit

Xiaomi’s official comment

“We do not give any official guarantees for our ranges at the moment, but many past examples show that we have regularly provided updates to older devices,” Xiaomi of Germany mentioned.

Xiaomi’s smartphone update cycle

Xiaomi Mi

  • Android versions: 2
  • MIUI versions: 4
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Xiaomi Mi T/Note/Max/Mix

  • Android versions: 2
  • MIUI versions: 4
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Xiaomi Mi A

  • Android versions: 2 (Android One)

Redmi Note

  • Android versions: 1
  • MIUI versions: 3
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Redmi

  • Android versions: 1
  • MIUI versions: 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Poco F/X

  • Android versions: 2
  • MIUI versions: 4
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Poco M

  • Android versions: 1
  • MIUI versions: 3
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Poco C

  • Android versions: 1
  • MIUI versions: 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, patches every 90 days

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

No, as explained above, Xiaomi does not provide any guarantees or make any official commitments when it comes to Android versions and security updates.

The information I’ve listed above was compiled from unofficial sources based on updates that were released for models rolled out in previous years.

It is currently impossible to know for sure just how often and for how long your Xiaomi, Redmi, or Poco smartphone will receive updates. However, Xiaomi does allow users to download the latest ROM version for its smartphones from its official website.

How many Android and security updates does Oppo promise

In terms of software updates, Oppo falls in line with the average Android manufacturer, which is no mean feat at all. Sure, it recently announced that it would offer 3 years of security updates for its Find X, Reno, and A lines as opposed to two previously, but that’s just catching up with the likes of Samsung or OnePlus.

While not the most extensive, Oppo’s update policy has at least the merit of being crystal clear. We know just how long and how often each model in the catalog will receive updates.

NextPit Oppo Find X3 Pro camera
The Oppo Find X3 Pro will receive 3 Android versions and 3 years of security patches / © NextPit

Oppo’s official commitment

“Today, we can guarantee three years of security updates for all our smartphones. For the Find X range, we provide them monthly, for the Reno range as well as the A range, on a quarterly basis.

For the Find X3 Pro and Find X2 Pro, there are three OS updates each, for the other smartphones in the Find X series as well as the Reno series and part of the A series, we will distribute two OS updates,” an Oppo Germany representative assured us.

The update cycle of Oppo smartphones

Oppo Find X

  • Android versions: 3 for the Find X2 Pro and Find X3 Pro, otherwise 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, monthly patches

Oppo Reno

  • Android versions: 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, quarterly patches

Oppo A

  • Android versions: 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, quarterly patches

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

Oppo displays on its official website the list of models according to their update frequency. This way, you can see how often your smartphone will receive security updates.

Unlike Samsung, Oppo doesn’t show any variation or decrease in the frequency of security updates over time. It also does not allow you to manually download updated ROMs for its models via its official website.

How many Android and security updates does OnePlus promise

OnePlus has definitely seen better days, but it would be unbecoming to conveniently forget that the manufacturer happens to be among the best examples when it comes to software updates. Yes, OxygenOS 11 divided fans and the Android 11 rollout was more complicated than it should have been, but OnePlus remains the only manufacturer to match Samsung’s commitment to updates.

NextPit OnePlus 9 back
The OnePlus 9 will receive 3 Android versions and 4 years of security patches, as many as a Samsung flagship / © NextPit

OnePlus’ official commitment

“For all flagships, Nord and Nord CE OnePlus offers 2 years of major Android updates and 3 years of bi-monthly security patches. And for Nord N10 5G and Nord N100, those will receive 1 year of major Android updates and 2 years of bi-monthly patches,” OnePlus France confirmed with me.

Since I contacted OnePlus on June 22, the manufacturer has slightly altered its update policy for its most recent flagships. Thus, all flagships numbered from the OnePlus 8 onwards will benefit from 3 major Android versions and 4 years of security patches.

OnePlus Nord N from N10 5G and N100 onwards will also continue to receive 3 years of security patches as opposed to 2 previously.

The update cycle of OnePlus smartphones

OnePlus numbered (flagship)

  • Android versions: 3 for the OnePlus 8/ 8 Pro/ 8T/ 9/ 9 Pro, 2 for previous models
  • Security updates: 4 years, bi-monthly security patches for OnePlus 8/ 8 Pro/ 8T/ 9/ 9 Pro, 3 years bi-monthly security patches for previous models

OnePlus Nord/ CE

  • Android versions: 2
  • Security updates: 3 years, bi-monthly security patches

OnePlus Nord N

  • Android versions: 1
  • Security updates: 3, bi-monthly security patches

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

Currently, OnePlus doesn’t have a dedicated security update and patch schedule page on its official website.

However, the manufacturer has detailed its new update policy on its forum. So in this forum post, you can check out the update policy that applies to your OnePlus model. Like Oppo, OnePlus has clearly specified the duration as well as frequency of its updates over time.

OnePlus also groups all its updated ROMs for its models on a dedicated page. You can download them and check their contents to see if they include a security patch or not.

How many Android and security updates does Realme promise?

Still an emerging brand on the scale of giants like Samsung, Realme doesn’t have the most extensive update policy on the market.

You’ll have to make do with a single major Android version and two years of security updates on average.

NextPit Realme GT Antoine
Realme still needs to make an effort in terms of updates, especially for its flagships like the Realme GT / © NextPit

Realme’s official commitment

“We aim to provide at least two years of bi-monthly security updates. This will be done monthly for the first 6 months after launch with at least one major Android update.

We also aim to provide Android security patch updates for all Realme smartphones, including entry-level devices such as the Realme C series smartphones,” said Realme France.

The update cycle for Realme smartphones

Realme GT

  • Android versions: 1
  • Security updates: 2 years, monthly patches for 6 months followed by bi-monthly

Realme numbered

  • Android versions: 1
  • Security updates: 2 years, bi-monthly patches

Realme X

  • Android versions: 1
  • Security updates: 2 years, bi-monthly patches

Realme C

  • Android versions: 1
  • Security updates: 2 years, bi-monthly patches

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

Realme does not have a dedicated page on its official website allowing that provides the duration and frequency of updates for its smartphones.

However, the manufacturer listed on this page updated ROMs for its models while allowing users to download the latest version. The page also offers a logbook to check whether the ROM has received the latest security patch or not.

But this page does not seem to be updated regularly and does not list the latest models like the Realme GT or the Realme 8 and 8 Pro.

How many Android and security updates does Vivo promise

Vivo is playing it safe in Europe, but the manufacturer chalks up one of the highest figures when it comes to smartphone sales worldwide. We’ve seen the brand everywhere since its Euro 2020 ad campaign, so I think it’s interesting to include it here.

The manufacturer doesn’t commit to the number of Android versions, although Vivo France confirmed with me a few weeks ago that the latest flagship, the Vivo X60 Pro 5G, would receive 3 versions of Android and 3 years of security patches. This means we’re not that far from the commitments made by Samsung and OnePlus.

NextPit Vivo X51 back
The Vivo X51 has received all monthly security patches since its release last year, according to the manufacturer / © NextPit

Vivo’s official commitment

“We are one of the fastest manufacturers in terms of rolling out security updates thanks to our dedicated R&D teams (the Vivo X51 has received all monthly patches since its release).

In 2020, we updated our entire European line-up to Android 11 only a few months after their release – even the entry-level smartphones. We follow Google’s recommendations to offer at least 3 years of security updates,” a Vivo France representative confirmed to me.

Vivo’s smartphone update cycle

Vivo X (flagship)

  • Android versions: 3 for the Vivo X60 Pro, no guarantee for the rest
  • Security updates: 3 years, quarterly patches on a minimum basis

Vivo Y (mid-range/entry-level)

  • Android versions: No commitment
  • Security updates: 3 years, minimum quarterly patches

Is this information publicly available to the consumer?

No, Vivo did confirm in a press release last June its update commitments for the Vivo X60 Pro 5G, i.e. 3 Android versions and 3 years of security patches. But the manufacturer did not provide any other official and publicly available information about the rest of its smartphone catalog.

A dedicated page is there that allows you to download the latest version of your ROM but it does not provide any information about the content of the update or whether it includes an Android security patch.

Methodology

When crafting this article, I contacted each Android manufacturer listed here individually, either through its French or German communication & press relations department, or through the representative communications agency in the respective countries. 

So my list includes Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, Realme, and Vivo. But I will update this article with possible replies from Asus, Sony, Nokia or Motorola (for Wiko, Alcatel, TCL or ZTE, you will have to inform me on a case by case basis in the comments section or via private message).

I submitted to each manufacturer the similar questionnaire via e-mail by asking:

  1. How many Android versions is guaranteed for the different smartphone devices in its catalog for 2021?
  2. How long and how often are security updates on their different devices guaranteed for?
  3. Is this information presented in a clear and publicly accessible manner for consumers online?
  4. Do you allow users to manually download the latest version of its Android ROM via the official website?

Conclusion

That’s it for this lengthy article that provides a clearer picture on the update policies of the main Android smartphone manufacturers. It remains to be seen that the duration and frequency of security updates as promised by Samsung, OnePlus and others should not be taken at face value.

The timeliness of updates is another issue that would certainly deserve an article of its own. Some of our competitors have tracking lists for that, and you can see for yourself just how rare is it for manufacturers to keep to their software update policies.

I also think that the such promises as well as the legal framework of update policies could be interesting subjects to discuss. Can we file a complaint against a manufacturer if it does not keep its promises? Are there any laws that impose a minimum number of software updates across time? Share with me in the comments section if you are interested.



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