I have been carefully monitoring how totally different Android device-makers do with post-sales software program assist for one thing like 97 years now, I believe — and yearly round this time, I brace myself for a brutal discovery.
This is the factor: Six months after a significant working system’s launch, most telephones must be operating that present software program. I really feel like that is a reasonably obvious-seeming and uncontroversial assertion to make.
And but, yearly round this time, I begin crunching the numbers (and likewise crunching some crackers, as all that number-crunching can actually make a fella famished) — and you realize what I discover? Nearly inevitably, a surprisingly massive portion of the top-tier, top-dollar Android telephones within the land are both nonetheless caught on 18-month-old software program or simply not too long ago acquired the replace they ought to have gotten six months earlier.
The final couple cycles, not less than, we noticed some method of relative progress and enchancment with Android improve supply instances, even when the general outcomes had been nonetheless fairly dismal. So I had hoped that this 12 months would proceed that basic trajectory and present us at a minimal some extra modest change in the appropriate path.
Um, yeah — a lot for that.
If there’s one development that shines via the info this 12 months, it is the identical one we have seen fairly persistently over time: Android device-makers, on the entire, simply aren’t superb at getting out software program updates in a fairly well timed and dependable method — even on the subject of their highest-paying clients. Corporations can attempt to spin the story any method they need, however knowledge does not lie. And this 12 months’s numbers communicate volumes.
Now that we’re six full months previous the launch of Android 11, it is time to step again and have a look at who’s making upgrades a precedence and who’s treating ’em as an afterthought. Prepare for some data-driven wake-up calls.
(Need the complete nitty-gritty on how these grades had been calculated? Yow will discover an in depth breakdown of the method and each factor taken under consideration on the very finish of this text.)
- Size of time for improve to succeed in present flagship: 0 days (60/60 factors)
- Size of time for improve to succeed in previous-gen flagship: 0 days (30/30 factors)
- Communication: Glorious (10/10 factors)
The one little bit of unambiguously excellent news with this 12 months’s Android improve cycle can also be in all probability the least stunning. Google does a persistently commendable job of getting present Android software program into the fingers of the individuals who buy its self-made Pixel merchandise, with near-instant rollouts for all present gadgets and no actual trigger for criticism.
That hasn’t all the time been the case, totally. That is truly simply the third 12 months that Google has obtained a 100% rating on this evaluation. Up till the Android 9 rollout, in 2018, the corporate had all the time both faltered barely with its previous-gen flagship rollout or had some factors docked for leaving sure fashions of its telephones hanging longer than others after which failing to speak something about their progress.
With Android 11, although, it is a utterly clear slate and a shining instance of how Android upgrades ought to be dealt with. Google introduced Android 11, following its seven-month improvement preview interval, after which began rolling the software program out to its then-current-gen Pixel 4 flagship and its then-previous-gen Pixel 3 mannequin — together with its three-year-old Pixel 2 telephone and all of its midrange Pixel “a” gadgets, no much less — on the exact same day.
(For the needs of this evaluation, by the way in which, it is the begin of a rollout — to a flagship telephone mannequin within the U.S. — that counts, as you’ll be able to examine in additional element right here.)
And whereas Google’s ordinary “rolling out in waves” asterisk utilized to a sure diploma, with some Pixel house owners not receiving the software program on that very first day, Android 11 made its approach to all supported Pixel gadgets inside an inexpensive period of time and with out the necessity for any additional communication past the corporate’s preliminary announcement. And positive, we may argue that Google has a singular benefit in that it is each the producer of the gadgets and the maker of the software program — however guess what? That is a part of the Pixel package deal. And as an individual buying a telephone, the one factor that basically issues is the expertise you obtain.
As ordinary, the outcomes inform you all there may be to know: Google’s telephones are with out query probably the most dependable approach to obtain ongoing updates in a well timed method on Android. It is the one firm that makes an overt assure about that, and it is completely the one one which delivers on it.
- Size of time for improve to succeed in present flagships: 91 days (47/60 factors)
- Size of time for improve to succeed in previous-gen flagships: 136 days (21/30 factors)
- Communication: Poor (0/10 factors)
We hear a variety of buzz about how Samsung is completely killing it with upgrades as of late. And you realize what? To the corporate’s credit score, it has been doing higher than ordinary — relative to its personal previous efficiency. Heck, it is even in second place this 12 months, although that claims extra about the remainder of the ecosystem than about Samsung itself. However if you assess the corporate’s degree of assist with a typical, constant scale, you see that Sammy is not precisely knocking it out of the park.
This 12 months, in reality, Samsung did about the identical as what it managed final 12 months — with some very slight enhancements in supply instances however not sufficient to maneuver the needle on its general rating. (Since Samsung has to date handled its Galaxy S and Galaxy Observe telephones as co-flagships, by the way, I have a look at the supply time to each gadgets after which common these figures to attain a single rating.)
And if you look again additional into Android improve historical past, you notice all that is occurred over these final couple years is that Samsung has returned to the extent of mediocrity it was attaining six years in the past, with 2014’s Android 5.0 Lollipop rollout. The corporate had a tough run of horrifically dangerous years after that — so, sure, it has been doing higher than these actually tough years as of late. And it has been servicing extra telephones than ever and truly getting updates out to even its non-flagship telephones inside this preliminary six-month interval. That is definitely one thing.
However you’ll be able to’t grade an organization solely relative to its personal previous letdowns and the low bar it is established for itself. And the variety of totally different telephone fashions Samsung has to juggle should not be an element for us, as individuals who pay for and use the gadgets. Once more, no matter any circumstances throughout the firm you are buying a telephone from, all that in the end issues is the expertise that you, because the buyer, obtain.
And on that observe, as ordinary, Samsung has made no effort by any means to speak with its clients about its improve course of or what might be anticipated alongside the way in which on this Android improve cycle.
I’ve stated it earlier than, and I will say it once more: Samsung can — and may — do higher. Notably for an organization of its dimension and with its immense monetary and engineering-related assets, delivering updates to folks three to 5 months late (even now, with the advantages of Google’s current Challenge Treble Android improve processing enhancements in place) comes down to at least one factor and one factor solely: priorities.
- Size of time for improve to succeed in present flagships: 33 days (55/60 factors)
- Size of time for improve to succeed in previous-gen flagship: Nonetheless ready (0/30 factors)
- Communication: Mediocre (5/10 factors)
After a strong three-year streak of holding the second-place spot and steadily growing its efficiency with Android upgrades, OnePlus has fallen exhausting with its Android 11 rollout. The corporate truly did fairly effectively with its present flagship telephones, the OnePlus 8 and eight Professional, but it surely utterly dropped the ball with its earlier-gen flagship — the OnePlus 7T, which nonetheless hasn’t gotten the replace as of this writing — and that was sufficient to deliver down its rating significantly.
Additionally not serving to is the truth that OnePlus by no means does a heck of rather a lot by way of communication with clients about its progress. The primary official peep from the corporate got here in January, when it posted a message in its boards noting that it had run right into a “knowledge decryption situation” with the OnePlus 7T telephone and consequently was operating later than it had anticipated with that gadget’s Android 11 supply. That four-months-late acknowledgment is best than nothing, in fact — and it is the rationale the corporate acquired a five-point communication rating as a substitute of a flat zero — but it surely is not even near sufficient.
I can solely hope that this stumble was a real fluke and that OnePlus will get again on monitor with Android 12 later this 12 months. After seeing the corporate go from a 65% D rating with Android 8 to a 74% C with Android 9 after which a pretty-darn-good 85% B with Android 10, it would be an actual disgrace to see subpar scores develop into its norm once more.