September 20, 2020

We asked, you told us: Here’s how long you think phones need Android updates

Our poll results show that you want more than two years of updates, but you also don't want a lot more than that.

RealmeX3 Superzoom Android 10 easter egg in hand

It’s no secret that the world of regular Android updates is pretty broken. Although there is a “rule� (if we can even use that word) that companies should offer two years of updates to their phones, few of them actually comply with this for their entire catalogs.

Even the companies that do offer regular Android updates for an extended period of time don’t even approach the efforts related to other operating systems. For example, Apple’s average time for supporting iOS devices is four years, and its track record is only getting longer in that regard. Windows and macOS get updates for much longer than that, too.

Related: We asked, you told us: Android updates are extremely important to you

In a recent article on this topic, I lamented that Android has this problem and has had it for so long. In that article, I included a poll to get a feel for what our readers think about this and maybe even find out just how long we should expect regular Android updates.

Let’s break down the poll data and find out what you all think.

Regular Android updates: How long do you want ’em?

Theoretically, you’d think our readers would want regular Android updates for as long as possible. However, our poll data didn’t reflect that, which is very interesting.

The poll question was simple: “How many years should your phone receive regular Android updates?� Here were the possible answers:

  • The usual two years is fine.
  • At least three years should be the minimum.
  • Any less than four years isn’t good enough.
  • I won’t be happy until we get five years at the least.

As I said, you’d think everyone would have immediately ticked the “five years� answer, but that’s not at all what we saw. Check out the results in the chart below:

As it turns out, nearly half of the responders just want an extra year of updates for their phones. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Only about a quarter want four years and less than a quarter want to hit the five-year mark.

Understandably, very few responders think that just two years of regular Android updates is enough. The only thing surprising about that result is that it wasn’t a flat zero.

Your comments

I must admit that I expected that chart to look a lot different. The fact that the majority of our readers just want an extra year of regular Android updates — which would still put them well behind their friends with iOS devices — isn’t the result I was expecting.

It might be that people think four years is too much to ask, and maybe three years is a more realistic request. The best way to find out, though, is to check your comments. Here’s what you had to say about why you chose what you did when it comes to this regular Android updates poll:


chasmanian:
None of this would be an issue if the phones didn’t cost more than the same laptops, TVs, and even some kitchen appliances that we expect to last five to 10 years. Let me clarify by saying that a $300 phone that lasts two years? OK. But a $1,000 phone that lasts two years? NO. I usually research the companies that are providing the fastest updates, longest update period, and reasonable cost in that order when buying a new phone.

nate0:
It should be the norm, you’re right. But only top tier corps recognize this. Apple/Microsoft and a few others. Not many out there though that make their own hardware and their own software at the same time… Their priority most of the time (android OEMs) is sales first.

Pushkar:
I say three years of major android upgrades and five years of security updates should be the norm. Mobile processors now are powerful enough to stay relevant for five years easily, at least for most basic phone tasks. But it’s the planned obsolescence updates that kill the use of these devices. A OnePlus 3 in my house with the latest Lineage OS is running just fine, so if an open-source and free OS can do this, then why not the OEM?

@SirMorokei:
Agree the Android market is all about the best possible hardware but after three years (sometimes even only two), the phones are basically dead for the OEM. Which is sad because they still perform pretty damn good.


There are a lot of good points made there. As I said in my original article, the best thing we can do is vote with our wallets. If regular Android updates are important to you, just buy phones from companies that take that commitment seriously. That’s the best way to fight the problem!

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