An Android smartphone could get three years of major operating system iterations. Moreover, the same smartphone would also get four years of security updates. Google and Qualcomm are trying to ensure Android smartphones have a much longer shelf-life and usability.
Google routinely updates the Android operating system. However, not every smartphone running Android OS gets the latest version. Hundreds of thousands of usable Android smartphones are discarded every year simply because they run an older version of Android OS. This practice could end or at least slow down soon.
Google and Qualcomm team up to ensure Android smartphones have a much longer usable life:
Perfectly usable and working Android smartphones end up being discarded. The simple reason is the lack of updates. Google, the company making Android OS, often ensures older Android versions become incompatible with new apps.
Now Google and Qualcomm are teaming up to enable a longer support window for Android smartphones. Qualcomm has indicated that it will now support its chipsets for three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates. It is quite obvious that hardware or OEMs must cooperate.
— Siva Bharani Udaya Selvan (@Siva_Bharani) December 17, 2020
This new and promising policy will come into effect starting with Qualcomm’s upcoming flagship Snapdragon 888. It is concerning to note that the extended support and consequentially, usable life, could apply only to Android smartphones with flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. However, a Qualcomm representative has indicated that the company plans to implement this policy for all Snapdragon chipsets, including lower-tier ones.
Will OEMs cooperate in ensuring their Android smartphones receive such long-term OS Updates?
On average, a typical Android smartphone from a reputed OEM usually gets about two major Android OS updates. Security updates for Android smartphones have become more frequent though.
Sending out major Android OS updates will undoubtedly be challenging, and not just from a hardware perspective. One of the biggest challenges is the need to have a continuous chain of software custody across several companies from the Android repository to the device in consumers’ hands.
Google says that new Android phones running the Snapdragon 888 will support up to four Android OS updates https://t.co/82wAME42fe
— PhoneArena (@PhoneArena) December 16, 2020
Interestingly, Google and Qualcomm indicate they are willing to pass a major chunk of the responsibility to OEMs for three major updates and four years of security updates. However, OEMs haven’t been known to be swift in designing and deploying updates.
Qualcomm and Snapdragon’s official statement reads that they will, “support 4 Android OS versions and 4 years of security updates.” However, the four Android iterations include the one that the smartphone ships out with. Hence this means the companies will offer three major Android OS updates and four years of security updates. For example, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC will support Android 11, 12, 13, and 14.