OnePlus has chosen to offer comparatively less long-term software support in its latest phones, instead of keeping in step with competitors Samsung and Google’s seven years of OS updates.
This surprising move was discussed in a recent Tom’s Guide interview with OnePlus' COO and president, Kinder Liu, who said that offering longer software update policies “misses the point” as extended support isn’t much use if the hardware of your phone is outdated.
This is in contrast to the Google Pixel 8 series, and the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, which now include seven years of OS updates. However, OnePlus’ latest flagship phones the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R seem to buck this trend.
The OnePlus 12 receives four years of OS updates, while the more modest OnePlus 12R offers three years of support. Both devices receive an additional year of security patches on top of the OS support. The OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R were released with OxygenOS 14, while the Samsung Galaxy S24 series shipped with One UI 6.1, which are both based on Android 14, while the Pixel series was released with Android 14 and the Pixel Launcher added on top.
Liu also mentioned that through stress testing with TÜV SUD to simulate the years of use a phone can endure, four years was the sweet spot for the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R phones to retain their smart and smooth performance, which OnePlus has long touted as a signature of its smartphones.
OnePlus also highlights its battery health engine should increase the overall lifespan of your phone's battery to help it maintain a charge even at 1,600 charge cycles, which is roughly four years. As Liu points out: "When our competitors say their software policy will last seven years, remember that their phone's battery may not,"
A study by Counterpoint Research referenced by Liu as well as research by Vodafone both suggest that Android phone users upgrade their phones every four years, which would put the OnePlus 12 in the sweet spot for Android users.
Will long-term OS updates stick?
It’s not likely we’ll see any slowdown in the yearly phone release cycle from most manufacturers. However, more phone manufacturers appear to be focusing on using lower-impact materials to create longer-lasting products and are becoming more concerned with sustainability.
This could lead to most people cutting back on buying non-essentials like new phones due to the rise in the cost of living, we could see most users upgrading less regularly.
While the Google Pixel 8 or the Samsung Galaxy S24 series phones could still be perfectly viable up to Android 21 in the distant year 2031, those still wanting up-to-date software might have already ditched their OnePlus 12 by 2028.
It will also be interesting to see if more manufacturers begin to follow Google and Samsung’s example or stick to a more standard support length. Could Samsung and Google continue seven years of OS support for future flagship models of phone releases, or is extended support just a one-off experiment?
Time will tell if OnePlus has made the right choice and if extended software support is just a marketing tool or a practical feature that more users will want to see.
If you’re looking to upgrade your phone take a look at our best phones list for great models you can buy right now.
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James Ide is a writer for TechRadar specializing in phones and tablets, having previously worked at The Daily Mirror since 2016, covering news and reviews.
James loves messing with the latest tech, especially phones due to their incredibly rapid pace of development.
When not surrounded by various devices and/or tinkering with gadgets while putting them through their paces, James has a love of handheld consoles.
He is almost the textbook definition of a geek, who loves sci-fi, comics, games and of course, all things tech. If you think you have a story for him or just want to challenge him at Smash Bros, get in touch.