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.”
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