A growing number of smartphone makers are committing to offering longer-term software and security updates for their phones… making it feasible for users to hang onto their phones for four or five years rather than upgrading every 2-3 years.

Kind of. The latest company to make a commitment is OnePlus, which says it’ll offer four generations of major Android updates and five years of security updates… for “selected devices.”

OnePlus 10T

The announcement is pretty vague about which devices will be selected. But given that the OnePlus product lineup is divided into premium flagship and budget-friendly categories, it seems like a safe bet that the pricier phones are the ones that are more likely to benefit the most from the new policy.

Keep in mind that OnePlus says the new policy goes into effect in 2023, which means it doesn’t apply to any of the company’s current smartphones. But if you buy a OnePlus flagship next year, you should get at least four major operating system updates and five years of security updates.

Another thing to keep in mind? OnePlus is pretty vague about how frequently those updates will roll out. Google, for example, offers monthly security updates for its Pixel phones. But OnePlus just says security updates will be available.

And one more thing to consider though: as with phones from all companies making this sort of commitment, the clock starts kicking when OnePlus releases a new phone, not when you buy it. So if a phone is released with Android 13 in 2023, it should get Android 17 in 2027 and continue receiving security updates for another year after that. But that’s true whether you buy the phone in 2023 or 2025.

That said, software updates are only one contributing factor to longevity. Many folks upgrade phones these days not because they’re tired of running older (possibly insecure) software, but because it’s cheaper or easier to buy a new phone than it would be to replace a broken screen or dead battery. So it’d be nice if OnePlus would also hop on another recent trend, and make spare parts and repair manuals available for customers that want to perform their own at-home repairs

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3 Comments

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  1. If OnePlus fixes the broken battery level in the status bar and the wrong time in the shade of my Nord N200 5G very soon, I will consider buying another OnePlus phone some day, otherwise not — the response of the Customer Disservice Department (which consisted of telling me to reset all my settings, factory reset the phone, return it for a repair, followed by apologizing for what plainly are unresolved bugs in its ROM and a request to wait for a relevant update) was enough to put me off of all OnePlus products permanently, but at this point I expect all or most corporations to lie to me.

  2. Having looked for this information about Samsung devices (similar promises, but some exceptions apply) and other manufacturers (usually hard to even find their promises), it would be useful to set up a central resourcing listing devices and update promises that should apply to them, both to inform buyers and to hold manufacturers accountable when they violate the promises as I’m sure they will. Anyone want to start a database with me? It would be useful if you had a magical way to get companies to stop being vague about what they’re selling.

    1. If there were a Federal Trade Commission, it could act against companies that lie about their products and compel them to disclose relevant information about their devices, but there’s little basis for trust in government anymore (what with our enemies abrogating the Bill of Rights and stealing our personal data for about the last twenty years). GSMArena does a pretty good job of listing specifications as does Passmark (though any number of ARM processors in particular aren’t in its database). Out of some lingering good feeling towards Samsung, I think it should do better, but the omission of specifications is obviously deliberate.