Maybe it is time to pick Android phones based on the manufacturer's upgrade history - gHacks Tech News

Maybe it is time to pick Android phones based on the manufacturer's upgrade history

Android fragmentation continues to be a serious issue not only for application developers and manufacturers, but also for end users.

The most recent Google Play stats show the state of fragmentation clearly. The most recent version of Android, Marshmallow or Android 6.0 is on only 0.3% of devices while the bulk of devices is still running older versions of Android going all the way down to Android 2.2 which is still on 0.2% of all devices.

For end users, the main issue is not that they don't have access to the latest features and improvements of newer versions of Android, but that their devices may be vulnerable to exploits and vulnerabilities that were patched in newer versions of the operating system.

Google, aware of the issue, started to produce monthly security updates for Nexus devices to deliver patches faster to them.

Other manufacturers, LG and Samsung for example, confirmed that they have joined Google in producing monthly security updates for their Android devices.

While that is a welcome step in the right direction, manufacturers have yet to take into account users running older devices.

android security updates

One big issue here is that older devices may not receive upgrades to newer versions of Android which leaves the owner of the device with little options when it comes to security.

One option that may be available is to install a custom ROM on the device to upgrade the version of Android to a newer version. That's however only possible if custom ROMs are available for the device and that is not always the case.

The only other option is to be very careful when using the phone. This includes activities such as installing applications on the device, visiting websites or using specific applications on it. Even if you are careful, you may be exposed to vulnerabilities depending on what they attack and their attack vector.

All in all, you may not be getting more than 18 months or 24 months worth of upgrades out of the device before the manufacturer stops producing those.

What you can do about it

Manufacturers have an interest in short support lifecycles to sell more devices to users. Many seem to stop supporting their older devices as soon as new ones are released, and while that is not always the case, it seems to be the norm these days.

It may be time to select the next Android device based on the manufacturer's track record of rolling out upgrades quickly, or at least make it an important point when you jot down the positives and negatives of Android devices you may be inclined to purchase next.

You cannot go wrong with Nexus devices in this regard as it is guaranteed that you get monthly security updates and regular upgrades to new versions of Android if you own a Nexus device.

Motorola and HTC have a solid track record as well, but they are not as fast as Google usually when it comes to upgrades.

Now You: What version is your Android phone on currently?

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Maybe it is time to pick Android phones based on the manufacturer's upgrade history
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Maybe it is time to pick Android phones based on the manufacturer's upgrade history
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Maybe it is time to select your next Android device based on the manufacturer's track record of creating and pushing out updates quickly.
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Comments

  1. leon said on November 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm
    Reply

    i think some just go to custom rom’s when the manufactors refuse to update
    gets rid of all the garbage aswell :)

    1. Mike said on November 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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      Custom ROMs aren’t always an option. You run into driver issues, or lack thereof, especially for SOC’s that refuse to open source their drivers or their hardware. Many devices languish after OEM support due to this exact issue. I don’t think I want to move away from Nexus devices for this reason.

  2. RottenScoundrel said on November 6, 2015 at 3:49 pm
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    >> Motorola and HTC have a solid track record as well

    Ummm, unless you own a former Flagship Developers version of the Moto-X -2013 (yes folks, around two years old) that still seems to me to be running the very much less than secure 4.3 {sigh}

    Moot point as I no longer use it as a phone it is relegated to Chromecast remote control duties. And, even then, it is third on the list behind the Push2TV+Tablet and FireTV Stick, so not even sure the battery is charged.

    Currently using an unlocked windows 8.1 phone as msoft does seem to be a **little** (make the tiny-bit) more responsible about security updates.

    It is a f…d up situation where the carrier defines whether or not you ever get security updates.

    1. Madis said on November 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm
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      That is the case when you buy a phone from a carrier.
      Unlocked Moto X has Android 5.1.1 (not 6.0, sadly).

    2. nonqu said on November 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm
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      Motorola announced that moto e2 – which was released this year – will not be getting the android 6.0 update. I’m done buying from them.

      1. snallygaster said on November 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm
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        Same here. It’s barely been out for 9 months and the marketing for the Moto E2 promised updates. Buh-bye Motorola.

      2. Joker said on November 7, 2015 at 9:21 pm
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        Which is extra funny, because the smaller Moto G (2015) is pretty much the same as the 2015 Moto E LTE except for the display and camera. Same SoC, same storage, same amount of RAM.

        The G gets 6.0, the E won’t.

    3. DVD Rambo said on November 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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      I have a 2014 Moto E that I purchased for use with Straight Talk. Neither Motorola nor Straight Talk ever put out an OS update. Every time I checked Moto update it says the phone is up to date. It’s probably stuck on KitKat forever. There is little reason that the E was not updated other than Motorola doesn’t care about it’s cheapest phone.

  3. joe said on November 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm
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    Prime example is Blu phones. Many of their phones get zero updates.

  4. Rick said on November 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm
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    They will never will be quick about updating the android version for older devices (if ever).

    Future sales are primarily driven by the new features of Android, and not of the phones themselves. OOO .. this one has new camera that uses Leprechauns and Unicorns to make people smile for selfies to ensure you get the best pic possible. Nope

    With smart phone sales falling (flagship models), don’t expect your older device to be updated (other than security .. maybe)

    1. Barney said on November 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm
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      So, what you are saying is, since a new Android is released pretty much yearly, that if your brand new phone isn’t on the newest Android or promised within a few months to be updated, you’ll probably never get security updates, right?
      Why pick Android then? At least other OS vendors seem to understand security updates should be available for the market share of their devices currently in use. Maybe Android should rethink being on a yearly update cycle.

    2. fokka said on November 6, 2015 at 11:57 pm
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      “Future sales are primarily driven by the new features of Android, and not of the phones themselves.”

      i seriously doubt that.

  5. John said on November 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm
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    Google should change the way Android is distributed: updates are part of the system, not of “goodwill” from the manufacturers.

    I’ve been looking for a custom rom for my phone, but as its a unknown brand, and no track record of anybody attempting/building it for it, I’m not risking it for it… Better buy a flagship phone to be able to run a custom ROM… sigh.

    Nexus indeed has that advantage, but I think even those will stop being supported at some point to upgrade to a new version.

    With only like less then 3 % of all phones being updated, its just a small drop on the big expanse. Google should step in and fix this.

    1. jojo said on November 6, 2015 at 9:32 pm
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      “Nexus indeed has that advantage, but I think even those will stop being supported at some point to upgrade to a new version.”
      ——–
      Nexus guarantees OS updates for at least two years.

      1. Joker said on November 7, 2015 at 9:22 pm
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        Which is still a joke.

  6. AnonDude said on November 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm
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    Yeah, I bought Motorola Moto 2015 (EU version) because it was advertised to get latest Android and I’m still on 5.0.2 and I’ll probably never get the update to 5.1 even though it was released for US version of this phone 3 months ago. If you want up to date android the only choice is Nexus device.
    PS. Sorry for my English.

    1. fokka said on November 7, 2015 at 12:03 am
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      same here. waiting for 5.1 while other people with the same device have had it for months and even 6 out now isn’t very fun. the update situation on android is fucked, it’s sad. not everybody wants a 6-inch nexus neither, or an overpriced and underperforming rehash of the nexus 5, both without expandable storage.

  7. Yuliya said on November 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm
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    Nexus 4 and Google abandoned it on Lollipop 5.1.1 which drains battery like crazy :( Things were better on KitKat. I think I’ll consider CyanogenMOD, once I figure out how to install it without destroying the phone.

    I find Google’s support to be quite bad for their own phones. My phone is now stuck with a buggy operating system. With KitKat now I’d be getting all sorts of update notifications, and I was also unable to restore my backup, so it’s not an option. At least it’s not 5.0, that was completely awful.

    I’d really give away their stage fright whatever fix for KitKat’s performance, but they’re exasperating me with the update popup, and there’s no way to dismiss it.

  8. Supermidget said on November 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm
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    Nexus 6 Tmobile Still on 5.1.1

    1. Rick said on November 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm
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      You can just flash 6.0 to upgrade. No need to wait for the push as Nexus phones are all stock (no other ‘software’).

  9. ilev said on November 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    “The most recent Google Play stats show the state of fragmentation clearly. The most recent version of Android, Marshmallow or Android 6.0 is on only 0.3% of devices while the bulk of devices is still running older versions of Android going all the way down to Android 2.2 which is still on 0.2% of all devices.”

    These numbers are false. The fragmentation is much worse. The latest Android versions are much lower by at least 50%. The reason ? China.
    Google’s report counts only devices accessing Google play store. Google has no presence in China which holds at least 50% of Android users.

  10. ACow said on November 7, 2015 at 12:46 am
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    I gave up on Android a while ago. I’m all about customizability, open source and all that jazz, but the way Android users are treated when it comes to updates is beyond ridiculous. I’m not even talking about new features — most won’t eve get simple security updates. Sure, there’s CyanogenMod, but it’s only available for the most popular cellphones. Aside from the lack of updates, Android is — compared to iOS and WP — a slow and laggy piece of shit.

  11. Wayfarer said on November 7, 2015 at 3:07 am
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    I’m increasingly disillusioned with Android – in fact to be honest I’m sick of it. OS is bad enough – but (IMHO) 90% of Android apps are rubbish. I often wonder if Android is a scheme to get us all running software that we gave up on with the Spectrum and Commodore 30 years ago!

    A friend has a 50-quid generic Chinese tablet (don’t ask me what) that just updated to Android 6. I have a (relatively expensive) Asus tablet that’s so full of pre-installed crap it’s a constant problem – and Asus seem to have no plans to update the Android 4.2.

    I’m not a lover of Windows, but my next tablet will almost certainly be Win10 – and you have no idea how desperate I’d have to be to say that. I’d just kill for a ‘pure’ Linux quality 10-inch tablet.

  12. Jojo said on November 7, 2015 at 3:38 am
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    Too bad for those of you not on Android 6.0. Google did a lot of work to stop battery drain and battery life is far better now.

    Maybe cell phone providers could be sued in court for NOT updating the OS on a prompt basis (or at all), thus exposing the consumer to security problems and functionality loss? Maybe some lawyer should think about a class action lawsuit…

  13. DeepcoverNZ said on November 7, 2015 at 3:51 am
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    Asus seem to be doing a good job at least with the Zenfone II that I own. One of my primary reasons for jumping from Samsung to Asus was lack of regular updates and as noted in article as soon as new device version was released Samsung seemed all to quick to turn their backs on older devices. This really is annoying especially when you have spent over $1000 (NZ) on the device in the 1st place. Having said this and according to Wayfarer maybe Asus are not as good at updating as I thought. Thought…. isn’t one of the issues with Android OS updates hardware compatibility?…

  14. Celestial said on November 7, 2015 at 5:48 am
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    I’m done with Android as well. Between the lack of updates (my phone that I bought in January 2015 is still stuck on Android 4.4), and the gigantic size of the phones, I’m switching to iPhone. Rumor is that Apple plans on unveiling a four inch iPhone 6C early next year.

    1. Joker said on November 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm
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      Well, why have you bought a 4.4-device in 2015? 4.4.0 was released in October ’13(!).

  15. Daniel said on November 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm
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    My Samsung Galaxy A7 is still running Kitkat. I think it has something to do with the version of A7 I got, as other A7s in other countries are running Lollipop as of now.

  16. Sharon said on November 8, 2015 at 6:12 am
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    My Nexus 4 got Lollipop then stopped keeping a charge. I blaim LG. So bought a Moto E from Best Buy with Lollipop. Works great, but miss the good camera and flashlight. Just ordered an Alcatel One touch 3. Has Lollipop, I think. I don’t expect it to get Marshmallow. The thing is so cheap to buy from Cricket. I’m sure good cheap phones will be available when I need one.

  17. aphid jones said on November 9, 2015 at 5:32 am
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    I’m still using my ever-increasingly vulnerable and unstable Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. Still stuck on 4.2.2. TI exited chip business, so platform abandoned, even Cyanogen. This phone was supposedly a “Nexus,” but updates only via carrier, Verizon (which means delayed or non-existent updates, as well as active blocking of apps & features). And that’s the biggest causes, IMHO, of this dysfunctional Android update system: carriers determine whether or not updates get distributed. Despite not liking iOS, I suspect my next phone will be iPhone. Yeccchhh. B-(

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