Android updates are one of the major parts of our experience with smartphones. We place a great deal of importance on them, they’re the subject of neverending criticism, and we’ve all experienced the pain of waiting for one that just never seems to arrive.
In the most recent headcount, Android Nougat can be found on 9.5 percent of Android devices, around 10 months after it first hit the scene (August 22, 2016). By next week, this is likely to be more than 10 percent.
For a moment, I’d like to ignore what that figure means in the grand scheme of things (I’m well aware many would say it’s far too low), however, and instead focus on how that 9.5 percent has been accounted for. In other words, how have the major OEMs performed so far in the Android Nougat rollout?
Note the information in this article is based on the findings in our Android Nougat update tracker, relevant links can be found there.
Samsung, arguably, has the most work to do of all the OEMs mentioned so far: its interfaces are heavily customized. The trouble is, few people are actually in favor of that — they’d rather a more stock Android-like interface and faster updates. Can’t blame ’em.
Galaxy S7 owners had to wait until into the new year for Samsung to roll out Nougat: it arrived January 12 in China and the UK. However, it wasn’t until May — May — that unlocked S7 handsets in the US got Nougat — more than 250 days after the software first landed.
That update did begin arriving to carrier branded handsets as early as January, and Samsung has been upgrading its most recent lineup of phones, including the 2015 flagships the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, from March. Still, it’s generally poor performance from the South Korean giant as it has no excuses where money and resources are concerned. these devices are next in line:
- Samsung Galaxy A8
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (LTE unlocked)
OnePlus released the Nougat updates for its latest flagship pair, the OnePlus 3 and 3T, on December 31, 2016. It was one of the last major manufacturers to release the update (though Samsung was still later), but this meant that OnePlus only had one more update to push out to get all of its recent devices up and running with the latest software.
Disappointedly, OnePlus later confirmed that the OnePlus 2 wouldn’t receive the Nougat update. OnePlus is, however, the smallest company on our list, and relies on online sales of its phones — it’s understandable that it might not have the infrastructure to deliver lightning fast updates, even if it does have the healthy bankroll of Oppo and BBK behind it and its Android skin is relatively light compared to Samsung or Huawei.
To not deliver a major Android update at all sends a disappointing message to those who might want to pick up a more recent flagship. The company has only recently released the OnePlus 5: will it be able to guarantee two major updates for that? Or even if it does make promises, should we believe them?
We’ll start with Motorola, seeing as it was the fastest out the gates with the Nougat update in the US, delivering it to its Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid in just 88 days. Naturally, this was great news for owners of its latest and greatest phones, but Motorola then managed to usher out the update to most recent Moto G devices, the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, in India before the end of 2016.
Motorola continued deployments in February, bringing its Droid Turbo 2, from 2015, up to speed with the latest Android version, followed by the Moto Z Play Droid in March. Its US Moto G4 caught up with Indian models in April, while the Moto X Force was updated in June.
Overall, Motorola has managed to deliver Nougat faster than most of its competitors and to more phones. It’s prioritizing not just latest flagships but its entry level devices, and various other Motorola handsets have been updated in territories outside of the US too.
LG was only a couple of days behind Motorola in the US Nougat rollout, upgrading the LG G5 in 90 days. After that initial burst of energy, things went quiet on the Nougat front until May 2017, when the update started to appear on some of LG’s lesser known devices, the LG Stylo 2 V, LG Stylo 2 Plus, LG K8 V, and the LG Phoenix 2.
This was a great start from LG, especially as it had already said that the LG G5 had sold relatively poorly — it could have easily placed resources elsewhere and waited until 2017 to update it. The problem is LG is yet to update it’s second-tier flagship, and may never do so.
Despite reports about its LG G4 update looming, it’s still nowhere in sight, and there are indications that it’s no longer coming. The G4 might be more than two years old now, but one major upgrade is pretty poor form for a flagship phone.
Also timely with the Nougat update was HTC, bringing it to the HTC 10 only 95 days after Google released it. HTC then followed up with the update to its 2015 flagship, the One M9, only 11 days later. This phone launched with Android Lollipop, and even to this day, many manufacturers still don’t have their 2015 flagships updated (see LG, OnePlus and Huawei).
The HTC One A9, another notable device in the US, started receiving Nougat in January, and the HTC Desire 10 Pro soon after.
It’s easy to say things are taking their sweet time when it’s your device waiting for the update, but when looked at across all manufacturers, HTC is on the faster end of the spectrum — Nougat is now on all of its major devices, even if it has a smaller catalog than many other OEMs.
Sony was the fourth and final OEM to get Nougat out within 100 days. It first appeared on the Xperia X Performance on November 29, followed by the Xperia XZ one day later. The Xperia X and X Compact started picking up the update around two weeks later, rounding off the rollout to its most recent smartphone lineup.
Sony has since released Nougat for its Xperia Z3+ (in January), which launched with Lollipop, and was the first third-party manufacturer to roll out the Android 7.1.1 update, which it has done for a few of its devices.
A couple of years ago, you might have called Sony one of the worst OEMs in terms of updates. Since then, it has revamped the way it approaches the process — it recently concluded an experimental Concept for Android track for a near stock experience on the Xperia X phones — and is releasing timely upgrades. Those burned by its slow rollouts in recent years might not like it, but right now, Sony is outperforming the majority of OEMs.
Huawei and Xiaomi
Huawei’s update rollout in the West is basically nonexistent, but it also isn’t selling devices in the US. Those in certain European territories, where the phones are readily available, are still waiting for many updates on many devices, however — even flagships. Similarly, Huawei’s Chinese competitor Xiaomi is lagging behind on updates in Western regions, but its phones are even harder to get hold of.
Ultimately, I feel these manufacturers are less accountable than the OEMs that have a major foothold in the US market: North America simply isn’t a focus for them. That being said, if fast updates are a primary concern for you, you know which manufacturers to avoid.
Overall, the Nougat update is rolling out slower than its predecessor, Android Marshmallow. That software hit 10 percent of devices in July 2016 after being released in October of 2015. Android Nougat is basically now reaching the same point despite being released last August.
As for the manufacturers, Sony and HTC appear to be leading the pack as far as comprehensive update coverage goes. Both had their flagships up and running quickly, and Sony has even rolled out 7.1.1. Motorola was also sprightly and it has a lot of phones to cover.
LG was fast with its G5, and its V10 update came in May, but the potential lack of an LG G4 update leaves a sour taste.
Meanwhile, OnePlus has been disappointing on several fronts, as has Samsung, but at least the latter has updated its S6 and S6 Edge (which were released three months before the OnePlus 2). The Chinese OEMs, on the other hand, are on their own schedule. Of course, if you simply want the fastest updates and best support, you need look no further than a Google Pixel.
Hopefully, this has given you something to think about when you’re making your next smartphone purchase. What are your thoughts on the Nougat rollout so far? Which manufacturers have impressed or disappointed you?