Tech companies tend to follow each other: that’s how we get trends in the first place. Apple, for example, dragged its feet on adding an always-on display to the iPhone; Fast forward a year and a half later, and Samsung has a similar experience available by default on One UI 6.1. That’s why it didn’t come as much of a surprise when, just a few months after Google announced the Pixel 8’s policy of seven OS upgrades, the Galaxy S24 series launched with the same promise. But not everyone seems to be on the same page.
This week, OnePlus COO and President Kinder Liu made headlines in the simplest way possible: by comparing these upgrade policies to moldy sandwiches. Liu’s argument – echoed by eco-conscious OEM Fairphone – boils down to this: You can’t promise to keep a smartphone’s software up to date when the hardware isn’t built to last as long as. It’s the equivalent of refreshing the filling on a sandwich (the software) while letting the bread go moldy (the hardware).
Sweaty metaphor? Of course. Excuse yourself for not bringing more than four Android OS upgrades to the OnePlus 12? Maybe. But maybe he’s right. Samsung and Google’s software support promises are uncharted territory for Android, and there’s no way to know how these policies will trickle down to end users without traveling to 2031. It’s entirely possible that both companies will not just deliver on their respective promises, but ensure a premium experience for users across the board.
But both Samsung and Google tend to push features exclusive to new hardware – just think about how many of the Pixel 8 Pro’s tricks aren’t available on the Pixel 7 Pro, or even the Pixel 8. That doesn’t means nothing of the processing power found under the hood. I’m sure most readers of this website wouldn’t want to rush out to use a Pixel 2 XL in 2024, even if it ran Android 14. We have no idea how Tensor G3 will hold up to seven years of use. , and there is no way to know in advance.
And, to drive home the point, OS upgrades aren’t what they used to be. Many Android changes and bugs come through channels like Play system updates or, yes, are locked to a smartphone like the Pixel at launch. Android 14 may have arrived day and date with the Pixel 8 last year, but the changes many of us were most excited about actually arrived in the form of Pixel-exclusive features not available to other OEMs Android.
With Samsung and Google involved in this seven-year policy, I’m curious how important Android updates are to our readers. Is this a must-have for your next phone, or are the lesser guarantees from companies like OnePlus and Motorola – which have their own problems keeping devices up to date – enough?