Updates are a big deal in the Android world. Apple controls the iPhone update process, but Google does not have that power over Android. How are you supposed to know how long your Android phone will get updates? We’ll help you.
When it comes to Android devices and updates, you can’t look at all of Android as a whole. The question is not “when will my Android phone be supported?” It’s “when will my [manufacturer] phone be supported?”
There used to be many manufacturers pumping out Android devices, but it’s been mostly narrowed down to Samsung, Google, and a few smaller players—at least in the U.S. We’ll focus on those companies.
Before we dive in, there’s one distinction that needs to be made. There are two types of Android updates. Security updates are smaller and arrive more frequently. They don’t typically include big changes, but they’re very important.
Android upgrades or “major OS updates” are yearly. This is when Android 12 upgrades to Android 13, or One UI 3 to One UI 4, and so on. Typically, devices will get one more year of security updates after they receive their last OS upgrade.
Note: Update timelines begin at the time of release. If a device was launched in October 2021 and it receives five years of security updates, the last update will be in October 2026 regardless of when you purchased it.
Samsung releases a lot of Android devices and they don’t all receive the same amount of updates. Thankfully, the company maintains a detailed “Security Updates Scope” website with information for specific devices.
Updates are released on a monthly, quarterly, and biannual schedule. Newer Samsung devices receive updates more frequently. Devices launched in 2019 or later receive four years of security updates, while newer devices receive up to five years.
In addition to those security updates, Samsung offers four Android upgrades for a majority of its devices. The list of those devices can be found on Samsung’s website and it includes newer models from those series’ as well.
The short answer for the majority of Samsung devices is you’ll get four Android upgrades and five years of security updates.
Newer devices—starting with the Pixel 6 series—receive three years of Android upgrades and five years of security updates. The Pixel 5a through the Pixel 3a receive three years of Android upgrades and security updates. The Pixel 3 and older Pixels are no longer supported.
If you own a Google Pixel, you’re looking at three to five years of support.
Beyond the big hitters, there are a few other Android manufacturers to know about.
The OnePlus 8 and newer devices receive three years of Android upgrades and four years of security updates. Older devices receive two years of upgrades and three years of security updates. The Nord series gets one year of upgrades and three years of security updates
Motorola has one of the most lacking update strategies among Android manufacturers. It varies greatly depending on the device you have. Newer devices receive two Android upgrades and two years of security updates. You can look up your model on Motorola’s website.
Most Sony phones receive two years of Android upgrades and security updates. Sony does not provide a lot of information about its update timelines.
LG shut down its smartphone business in 2021, but phones released in 2019 or later are supposed to receive three years of Android updates.
At the time of writing in April 2022, Samsung and Google are head and shoulders above the rest of the Android world when it comes to updates.
Those are the devices you should consider if you want long-term support. You don’t want to use a phone without up-to-date software. It’s critical for security to have a supported phone.