In what is possibly the biggest Android news story of the week, Google announced today that all future Qualcomm chipsets, starting with the upcoming Snapdragon 888, will support three Android operating system updates and four years of security updates. For laypeople, this means that some new phones landing in 2021 are likely to get an extra year of updates – assuming OEMs come out on top and follow suit.
The change builds on some previous improvements from Google and is quite technical. Most of our readers are probably already familiar with Project Treble, which reorganized the way parts of Android work to make it easier for manufacturers to provide updates – and that makes a difference, too. But because of how it worked, the chipset manufacturers’ jobs were actually done HeavierThis adds to the work they had to do to support multiple generations of software depending on when phones were started during the life cycle of this chip. In short, making it easier for smartphone manufacturers to deliver software updates has taken extra work for companies like Qualcomm.
over: A rough idea of how complicated the work of a chipset manufacturer has been over the years. Below: As it is now, with these changes.
Last year, Google worked with Qualcomm to fix this problem and bring the logic of Treble modularity to the chipset as well. This makes Qualcomm’s job easier and allows them to service chips for a longer period of time. This leads to today’s news: all future Qualcomm chipsets starting with the Snapdragon 888 are supported
Four years update of the Android operating system version Three Android operating system updates and four years of security patches. That means that many Android phones will hit the market from 2021 probably Get four years of updates.
This lack of security is due to the fact that while Google and Qualcomm made this change, they are not providing updates to your phone. This only guarantees that the updates will be available in the event that smartphone companies so wish. Currently, we don’t know of any manufacturers who have hit these numbers in terms of Qualcomm’s future chips. However, I think there’s a good chance that companies like Samsung and Google, known for their commitment to updates, will benefit. Or at least they should.
We asked Google if phone manufacturers are already on board to accommodate this change and if there are any plans to offer the same support to other chipset providers (like MediaTek) but haven’t received a response at the time of writing. We will update when more information is available.
So far, the best update commitment you can get in the consumer Android device world is three years – usually for security patches that are paired with two or three years of operating system updates. This is in stark contrast to iPhones, which keep getting updates until Apple can no longer run the software on their older hardware – that’s usually around five years and sometimes more. In many cases, perfectly functioning Android phones have been left behind due to limited software support windows, as was the case with Google’s latest Pixel 2 series just this month.
Ultimately, we can’t promise that today’s change will result in longer lasting Android phones. This change only applies to future phones with upcoming Qualcomm chipsets starting with the 888, and It is still up to the phone manufacturers to actually provide these updates regardless of the changes Google or Qualcomm implement. In the best case scenario, we will finally use these advantages in 2025. But hey, at least it’s something.
The joint announcement was light misleading, and it’s about a little more subtlety than we originally thought. Google and Qualcomm promise three operating system version updates and four years of security updates instead of just four years of operating system updates. (While four years of operating system updates typically equates to three version updates in most software upgrade schedules, technically they are different things.)
Phones like Pixel already meet this requirement as they are updated to the latest version at the last minute (and therefore receive three updates total) before they are deleted. However, to us it still sounds like Qualcomm and Google are showing promise right now four years of security updates as a result of this change, which would add to our understanding of the current policy, and more than the best three-year promise most smartphone vendors have now.
Official response from Qualcomm PR:
“Qualcomm will support the launch version + 3 operating system upgrades for a total of 4 major Android operating system versions. Snapdragon 888 will support Android 11, 12, 13 and 14.”
So three years with important operating system updates and four years with security updates.
– Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) December 16, 2020
This is more complicated than it probably needs to be, and we’ll go into the details in case this slightly more nuanced understanding is also flawed, but it appears that the two companies still allow an additional year of security updates to be received on top of that what we are currently used to when smartphone manufacturers will use it.