It’s the concern so many Android users have: when will my phone be upgraded to the newest version? As Android fans, we want to know that we will at least see the newest Android version soon after launch. While we don’t expect to see our HTC or Samsung device carry the latest flavor of Android the same day as a Nexus device, we don’t want to get left behind, either.

It seems that’s just what happens though, as OEMs and carriers choose not to support legacy models, instead “asking” us to upgrade. For some, that’s just not possible. For others, the change is unwelcome. For iOS, it doesn’t seem to matter. A new report shows that while the Android space remains fragmented, iOS devices — even those older ones — are widely supported with the same OS upgrade as newer devices, and at the same time.

This can be taken a number of ways. On one hand, Apple controls both the OS and hardware, so it’s easy for them to push out updates and support all devices. It’s a bit like Google with their Nexus brand. Though when Android 4.4 launched, the Galaxy Nexus was famously noted as being unsupported, with differing reasons as to why. Was it really some mysterious 18-month cycle, or the fact that Texas Instruments was no longer supporting the hardware in the device?


It gets even more confusing when we examine other OEMs and their offerings. The chart, pictured above, tracks OEMs and their various handsets through the life cycle. It shows how the manufacturer and/or carrier stop supporting the device, and the trend we see is that after a year or so it is simply left behind the curve. Android continues on, and if we want the latest and greatest Android has to offer, we’re to upgrade or languish… and upgrading doesn’t solve the problem all the time, either.

Perhaps more troubling is that, upon launch, many devices are already behind. The flagship Galaxy S3, for example, was never on the current Android page. The HTC One was, for a few months, but hasn’t been since. Only Nexus devices have a better showing than the rest, but the Galaxy Nexus calls that track record into question moving forward.


Conversely, we look to the iPhone, and see that all devices are supporting the current OS all the time. It is only recently that the iPhone 3GS — older than any Android device on the chart — began to slip off the map. Perhaps more troubling for us is the time it takes to get updates to Android devices, as the chart below demonstrates. While things like TouchWiz or Sense confuse the issue, that’s the responsibility of each manufacturer to readily support Android updates on their devices, and consumers shouldn’t pay the price for their choice. We like to blame carriers, but each carrier has the iPhone, and there seem to be no issues with updates there.

We hope Android 4.4 fixes fragmentation, but in reality, it will probably only change the appearance of it. On paper, we’ll all be on one version, but Android 4.4 has a lot of moving parts that OEMs can choose to utilize or not. The most obvious example is the Google Now launcher on the Nexus 5, which hasn’t made its way to other Nexus hardware, a choice made by Google. All Nexus devices are — or will be soon — on Android 4.4, but the experience changes from device to device. Is that actually solving the problem, or just the perception of it?


VIA: 9to5 Google