Whatever your smartphone operating system of choice, one thing we can all agree that Apple does better is software updates. Not just in terms of speed, with all supported devices getting them on day one, but in terms of how long devices remains supported with updates. On that second point though, Android might soon close the gap.
We say this because two major manufacturers have just announced plans to support their phones for longer. Hot on the heels of Vivo announcing that it would provide three years of major Android and security updates for select flagship X series models launching after July 2021, Oppo has reportedly now made a similar claim.
According to Android Planet, the company has said that it will offer three years of security updates for the Oppo Find X3 Pro, Oppo Find X3 Lite, and Oppo Find X3 Neo. It’s apparently also considering extending this to four years.
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Keeping your phone safe and supported for longer
It’s worth noting that security updates aren’t the same as getting new versions of Android – they squash security vulnerabilities rather than bringing big new features, and Oppo hasn’t currently said anything about extending major Android updates to three years like Vivo. But it’s a step in the right direction if Android Planet’s information is right.
More security updates means your phone is safe to use for longer, while more Android operating system updates means it continues getting new features and improvements, and supports all your favorite apps for longer.
So these sorts of changes are a big deal, as they mean you won’t necessarily feel the need to upgrade your phone so quickly, which is better for both the environment and your wallet – particularly if you’re buying high-end handsets.
The times they are a-changin'
Yet they’re not something that most Android phones offer yet. Samsung recently committed to three years of major updates on many of its devices, but most companies - including big names like OnePlus and Motorola - still only offer at most two years.
This news from Vivo and Oppo though is a sign that things are changing, and as more manufacturers start supporting phones for longer, brands that don’t will become ever less desirable, hopefully pushing the holdouts to make the change too.
That said, while this is promising news it still leaves Android well behind iOS on this front, with Apple still fully supporting the iPhone 6S five and a half years after launch.
It probably won’t get iOS 15, but that still means it will have got five major software updates in its lifetime, which is a lot more than even Samsung and Vivo are now promising. Hopefully then this shift among some Android manufacturers is just the first step.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.