Buy an Android phone from Google, Samsung, HMD (Nokia), or a handful of other companies and you should get OS and security updates for at least three years. But soon we may start to see phone makers promise four years of updates… and if we’re lucky, more device makers will hop on the update bandwagon as well.
Google and Qualcomm have announced a partnership that lays the groundwork to make it easier for phone makers to offer updates for at least four major Android releases, while providing security updates for four years.
That doesn’t necessarily mean your next phone will have four years of support though, and it certainly doesn’t mean anything for the phone you already own.
In a nutshell, the new initiative is an expansion of Google’s Project Treble, an initiative that first launched in 2017 as a way to separate Android OS updates from low-level, vendor-specific software running on the phone in order to make it easier for device makers to release updates more quickly.
That worked. In recent years, we’ve seen updates pushed out much more quickly for some smartphones. But the split also makes it tougher for companies to provide long-term support, since over time they may have to offer both a new OS framework update and an updated vendor implementation.
Google’s solution? Work with chip makers to ensure that there’s no need to update the vendor implementation at all for specific processors.
And that’s what Google and Qualcomm are announcing: starting with the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, phones running Android 11 should at least theoretically be able to receive Android 14 when it arrives, and it should get security updates through 2025.
There are a few caveats though:
- Google notes that this applies to “all new Qualcomm mobile platforms that take advantage” of the system, while Qualcomm refers to “all Snapdragon platforms utilizing the Project Treble enhancements.” In other words, your current phone with an older Snapdragon chip probably won’t get four years of updates. And it’s possible that Qualcomm could release new chips that don’t support the new system either.
- Even if you do buy a brand new phone with a Snapdragon 888 chip, it’s still going to be up to individual phone makers to decide whether to release updates, how long to do so for, and how frequently to make them available.
So there’s really no guarantee that your next phone will be supported for four years. But at least there’s a better chance of that happening now.
It’s unclear whether Google is working with other chip makers such as MediaTek or Samsung to offer similar long-term support.
You can read more about the updates to Project Treble for a deeper dive into how it works in a post on the Android Developers Blog.