If an Android phone costs as much as an iPhone, it should be supported for four years

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
If an Android phone costs as much as an iPhone, it should be supported for four years
I think that Android phones that cost as much as an iPhone should receive software updates for four years. An absolutely absurd thought, I know, but let me rest my case! This isn't another "fruit company good" type of a circlejerk article, just the lament of an Android guy at heart.

Why are we excusing this?

As Android flagships these days comfortably rival iPhones' pricing and phone manufacturers were extremely trigger-happy to jump on the 1,000-dollar phone bandwagon, the already-thin barrier between the two platforms is seemingly shattered. If I'm laying more than a thousand for an Android phone, I'd expect it to be just as good as the competition's offerings, and while almost all hope is lost for raw performance at this point (Apple simply seems to be way ahead in this regard), I don't think the lack of prolonged software support can be excused. 

So, what's the reason for that conundrum?

Simple - Android manufacturers simply don't care enough. 

"But Peter", you might say, "How can you compare Apple, which releases 2-3 phones per year, with all the prolific Android manufacturer that come up with way, way more devices per year"? Well, you've got a point, but let's not forget that just a tiny sliver of these devices can be considered flagships and therefore carry an iPhone-like price. Come to think of it, most Android manufacturers have a lot in common with Apple as they usually release just 2-3 high-end devices each year. Keeping these up-to-date for four years would make what, less than a dozen devices on the software drawing board? Does this sound like it would be a stick in the wheel of the giant conglomerates that develop and sell Android devices? Is there anything other than willingness that's keeping them from updating their older devices?

Sure, you could also argue that old hardware simply can't cope up with Android and all the trendy apps these days, but that would mostly be wrong. The resourceful guys over at the XDA forums have certainly proved that almost any device can run almost any version of Android, and if the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 from 2014 can run a custom build of Android Oreo relatively issue-free, then everything is possible provided you tackle it with the correct amount of passion and dedication.

If you're about to copy something, copy this

However, I find it really, really funny that all Android manufacturers have copied various iPhone features and functionalities over the years, but none has dared copying probably the most beneficial one - Apple's support policy and update philosophy. And this is coming from a die-hard Android guy like me. Guess Android manufacturers have really perfected the art of talking the talk but not walking the walk, and all those software upgrade centers are nothing but snake oil of the purest kind.

Now that Moore's Law is in dire straits, we shouldn't expect massive improvements in smartphone performance every year. As a result, many people are very likely hold on to their devices for longer and will probably upgrade every third year. The market has already gotten saturated to the point where smartphone makers are struggling to come up with noteworthy new features to incentivize would-be consumers to get their shiny new handset, but I think the only meaningful novelty would be an Android manufacturer REALLY committing to keeping its flagship devices upgraded for as long as Apple does with its older phones. 

I can already imagine the insane potential for marketing campaigns, so why can't they?

The notable omissions

Of course, there are some Android manufacturers that are doing things just right. Google, for example, has committed to updating its Pixels for up to three years, which is a great step in the right direction! Another manufacturer that deserves some recognition is Xiaomi. Why, yes, Xiaomi itself, the so-called Apple of China! While technically the software updates it provides for its extensive lineup of phones is not your regular software update and usually doesn't bring a new Android version, the company does an excellent job at updating its older gadgets with the new versions of its MIUI interface. Those two are the ones I can name on the top of my head, so excuse me if I'm missing somebody.

Anyway, do you agree with this notion or have a counter-argument? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and I'll be happy to partake in a meaningful discussion.

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80 Comments

1. Prajjwal

Posts: 16; Member since: Aug 03, 2016

Yeah, I totally agree with it. 3 years at least should be the bare minimum for flagships. It's especially bad for galaxy note users, which is launched with an outdated version of Android, and gets only 2 updates. So the note 9 might get only to android Q, Pie being its first update. Whereas, the pixels will get to android S, with 3 years of updates.

24. lyndon420

Posts: 6915; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

If anything I think Google should offer 3 years for their pixel line. But...in my opinion, sometimes an update just isn't worth it if features are being taken away (like the ability to record phone calls) - which is the main reason I haven't adopted Google's latest operating system yet.

37. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

The article is a fanboy piece to try and push product for Apple which is obvious by the glaring issues with the arguments as usual. Firstly, Android phones get more support than iPhones for three reasons: 1) Security updates go on far longer and do not hamper performance as in the case of iOS devices. 2) App updates, even core system apps, are done through Google Play rather than the Android OS. So safari, for example, will only be updated when the system updates on iOS but Chrome on Android updates as soon as an update is available on Google Play. 3) Many of the new APIs are brought to older versions of Android through the support library available to app developers. Secondly, does anyone even want iOS updates anymore? People are actively holding off on updates knowing the throttling that Apple is doing overtly and discretely will only get worse if they do. Why pretend that Apple's updates are the envy of the world when even their own users refrain from doing it?

44. DFranch

Posts: 562; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Don't forget, iOS only has to Support Apple chipsets. Android supports chipsets from at least 4 separate manufacturers.

60. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 974; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Apple sends the OS updates straight to the devices, whereas Android phones tend to rely on the carrier to push the update. Google should never have let carriers get involved, since it adds months or more to the wait time to receive the update.

91. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Lyndon420 clearly doesn't know that Google's Pixels give three years. The original Pixels came out in 2016. The original Pixel has the latest Android. The same as all the other pixels (2 and 3's). The Pixel 2's which came out in 2017 will get one more update to Android Q. That is three years. Learn to count lyndon420.

45. Georgio

Posts: 325; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Really? You didn't know that you get 3 years of updates, plus one year of security updates? Is like this since the release of the pixel 2

2. baldilocks

Posts: 1547; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Android copying iPhone features? Are your writers really on drugs? While a form factor may have been copied once or twice, I can assure you that not in the last 5-7 years has any software feature been copied from an iPhone. In fact, the other way around. I am an iPhone user and I find the pro-Apple content on this site overwhelming, sickening and outright lies most of the time. That part of the story, makes any other point you were trying to make here, a waste of energy.

6. joshuaswingle

Posts: 744; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

I didn't write this article but it doesn't say software features, it simply says features.

15. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Even the majority of software features came from Android, or we're on Android first. If you are talking about price gouging then Apple started that. Dual cameras started with Android. Notch started with Android. Now there is holes only for the front cameras. Starts with Android. Under the screen finger print scanners starts with Android. AI chips started with Android. Really high resolution displays started with Android. OLED displays started with Android. Apple started the 64 bit SoC. Now as far as software features. Notification grouping started on Android. Quick settings started on Android. Gestures started on Android with 3D party home screens years ago. There is a lot of other software stuff that started with Android. But if Apple is looking for something to copy. Then Apple needs to allow users the ability to change defaults. Like if I wanted to change the default web starting app to be some other web browser, that would be sweet. Better yet change Siri so I could use a more intelligent AI Assistant. How about allow users to change the home screen or lock screens. Apple should steel multitasking and split screen from Android or anyone else to add to their iPhones.

21. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1603; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

I can't speak for the International market but the iPhone 5s was the first phone with a quality FPS(possibly the first) and it took 1 1/2 years for a competitor to match it. Siri was huge when it was new too, no one else had a reliable competitor.

25. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

There was a number of other finger print scanners before Apple's. Some bad and a few pretty good.

29. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

I should have added that Siri was definitely not the first. On each store there was a number of voice assistants. Siri was the first to baked into iOS in 2011. Less than a year later Google Now was baked into Android. It surpassed Siri at that time. Google Now even won awards because it could tell you things before you even asked about them. Like deliveries on packages. Flight information and a number of other things. From that time Siri has never caught up.

47. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3187; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

The Motorola ES400 was the world’s first phone with fingerprint scanning. Few know about it because it was a Windows Mobile device, the old Windows Mobile. The Atrix was the first Android with FPS and it came out 7 months later.

61. blingblingthing

Posts: 986; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Lol. Motorola came with it first. Technology only gets better with time, so when Apple was first with the "quality" FPS scanner, your just playing with words. Using your logic, wasn't the iPhone X the first iPhone to add a quality screen? Siri was huge? The only thing about Siri was her name. She came and was doing things Android did for years like narrating a text message to be sent and seeing an alarm.

100. brasstax

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Even hardware features are copied by Apple starting with the screen size, the minimal bezels and increased ram and now fast charging and wireless charging and you can also add dual cameras to that list. In screen fingerprint sensors and cameras would also make the list in a year or two followed by foldable iPhone. Spouting rubbish is embarrassing for a so called tech writer.

17. stijnvbml

Posts: 78; Member since: Feb 20, 2013

They have copied gestures and certain OEMs kind of copy Apples iOS, mainly Chinese ones. Apple copied enough from Android, but I mean android also copied things in the last year.

30. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Gestures were always in Android through 3D party home apps. Some home apps implemented them, and some didn't.

34. Charlie2k

Posts: 175; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

LoooooooL.. Copying gestures? The iPhone X-series is a complete Nokia N9 clone. 100%. That was the first phone with gestures and no home button. And funny enugh is that the Nokia had better gestures!!

46. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3187; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Sorry Charlie, but webOS was the first with gestures. Also first with wireless charging, universal device search and tap-to-share.

35. bucknassty

Posts: 1395; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

sites like these called them gimmicks on android... thats why samsung removed nice elements like air gestures

20. Brewski

Posts: 736; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

I think the author is talking about removing headphone jack, notch, you know things that are less than popular. He's asking why Would Android follow these trends and not the software support trend.

42. ullokey

Posts: 185; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

I thought Motorola (with Moto Z) removed the headphone jack first

3. Yousefjaber206

Posts: 118; Member since: Jan 09, 2018

I kinda agree hardware these days are more than capable also phones become so expensive with features that barely justifie there prices!

4. cmdacos

Posts: 4386; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

I'm fine with the way it is but my case is very different in that I buy a new flagship every 6 months.

36. Valdomero

Posts: 707; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I hope you never run out of money.

5. dimas

Posts: 3446; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

I agree with everything said in the article. All expensive/ flagship phones, android or iphone should have at least 4 years support and at least 2 years warranty out of the box. I also don't believe that alibi of "hardware can't support new software" crap, that's planned obsolescence with different spelling.

7. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2284; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

This article doesn't pertain to me. I upgrade my phones once a year. LOL!

8. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 776; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

Me too, but it would still be nice to get faster updates & not have to buy a stock Android (or close) phone in order to do so.

9. Knownhost

Posts: 116; Member since: Nov 13, 2017

Part of the problem, I think, is that the SoC's are just now getting good enough in Android to run multiple years of updates. I use Android phones exclusively, but until the SD 835, every phone I had owned showed various degrees of lag/stuttering. Starting with phones with the 835, yes, I agree that four years of updates should be guaranteed.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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