The state of Android Oreo updates today - the champions, the losers, and the mediocres

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The state of Android Oreo updates today - the champions, the losers, and the mediocres
No, it’s never fair to compare how fast a new iOS version is spreading to new and old iPhones around the world with the global adoption rate of a fresh Android flavor. While Apple has full control over its mobile hardware and software, Google continues to keep its market-leading platform open and free to customization of any sort, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

But the search giant and its smartphone-making partners simply have no excuse for the horrible state of Android Oreo updates. Fragmentation has been a problem for many years, so why did it take so long for Project Treble to materialize and for non-Google devices to become involved in an official beta program setting the stage for a new OS version release?


Also unacceptable is the huge gap between iOS 11 and Android Oreo adoption numbers. A whopping 81 percent of the world’s “iDevices” were already running the former operating system on May 31, according to official App Store measurements, whereas just 12.1 percent of devices visiting Google’s Play Store in the 7-day period ending on July 23 came powered by Android 8.0 or 8.1.

Worse yet, the 2015-released Marshmallow is still a close second in this latest distribution chart, behind the slightly newer Nougat dessert, and narrowly ahead of the even older Lollipop flavor. That’s bad, and everyone from Google to Samsung, LG, Huawei, HTC, Sony, Xiaomi, and Nokia should feel bad. Well, maybe not everyone. At the very least, some companies should feel worse than others for crucially contributing to the fragmentation plague.


Let’s name and shame a few of the laziest Android smartphone vendors out there, as well as praise those who’ve done a better than average job in providing Oreo updates for devices running older OS iterations out the box.

Google



This one’s a no-brainer. Of course eligible Nexus and Pixel devices were the world’s first to leave Nougat behind, receiving frequent security updates and bug fixes since August 2018. They were also the first to be promoted to Android 8.1 Oreo, although a number of smaller updates and maintenance releases felt rushed, constantly hurting system stability instead of improving it.

Verdict: champion (duh)

Samsung


The king of global smartphone shipments regularly lagged behind several dark horses in terms of Oreo updating pace. Unfortunately, the company’s excessive stock Android revisions and extreme skinning also appeared to cause a number of problems for owners of popular phones like the Galaxy S8 and S7.


Ultimately, all kinks were ironed out, and Samsung also brought many other handsets up to date, including the Galaxy A8 and A8+ (2018), A3, A5, and A7 (2017), and of course, the Galaxy Note 8. But rollouts have been sluggish, with certain markets clearly favored over others, and worst of all, many respectable mid-rangers, like the Galaxy J3, J5, and J7 (2017), kept waiting and waiting.

Verdict: mediocre

Nokia


When a little startup called HMD Global announced less than two years ago it would become the new “home of Nokia phones”, many expected the brand to die a painful and silent death by now. Instead, this phoenix appears to have risen from Microsoft’s ashes stronger and bolder than ever before, and it’s all thanks to some stellar software support.


Okay, maybe that’s not the only reason behind Nokia’s resurgence, but it would be naive to think the popularity of modest devices like the Nokia 3, 5, and 6 has nothing to do with their modern software. The Nokia 2 is the lone black spot on an otherwise flawless track record, but even that 1GB RAM-packing lightweight has been treated to an 8.1 Oreo beta.

Verdict: champion

Huawei


The world’s second-largest smartphone vendor has a similar problem as Samsung - a far too extensive product portfolio. It’s not easy to support so many different phones (sold under two distinct brands), but that obviously doesn’t excuse the confusion floating over 2016’s P9 flagship. Or how late last year’s P10 and P10 Plus have started their official 8.0 rollouts. And let’s not even go into the whole Honor 8 will it/won’t it saga.

 

On the bright side, the Honor 7X earned its Oreo stripes relatively early... for a budget-friendly mid-ranger. Still, Huawei will have to do better if it wants to become the mobile world’s number one manufacturer.

Verdict: mediocre

LG, HTC, and Motorola


These are three brands that needed to do something special to get their mojo back after years of commercial misfortune, but simply put, that wasn’t the case. LG started updating the G6 just a few months back... in Korea, promising the G5 would follow suit soon, which hasn't happened yet. The V20’s rollout has begun very recently, while the Q6 is the company’s only mid-range model promoted to Oreo so far.


HTC did a slightly better job, with the U11 updated before 2017 ended (at least in some markets), and the U11 Life, HTC 10, and U Ultra also added to the Oreo-powered list fairly quickly. But a lot of 2016 phones have been left behind, and 2017’s U Play was never even bumped up to Nougat.

As for Moto-branded devices, we still can’t believe it took the non-Android One X4 variant until June to adopt those sweet Oreo treats. And yes, the G5 and G5 Plus are still stuck with Nougat.

Verdict: losers

Sony and Asus


These are also two companies that needed to work miracles to stand out from the pack, which is exactly what they managed to do. Just remember Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, XZ, XZs, and X Performance all boarded the official Oreo ship by the end of November last year. Then came the Xperia X, X Compact, XA1, XA1 Plus, XA1 Ultra, and even the India-exclusive Xperia R1 and R1 Plus.


Meanwhile, Asus pulled off relatively timely updates for a long list of ZenFone 3 variants, including a few not-so-powerful and not-too-expensive devices. Too bad software support is not everything.

Verdict: still underdogs

BlackBerry


You had one job, TCL! The unexpectedly popular BlackBerry KEYone, manufactured by a licensee rather than the Canadian company BlackBerry Limited, continues to run Android 7.1 Nougat, with an Oreo beta program barely started about a month ago. That's beyond disappointing.

 

Verdict: what the actual F?!

Xiaomi



One of the reasons you’ve heard so little about Xiaomi’s Android Oreo updates is that the company’s phones are still not very popular or widely available in the Western Hemisphere. The other is, well, the same lethargy characterizing most of the US-active smartphone brands. Sadly, the Android One-powered Xiaomi Mi A1 encountered some issues during the first stage of its update way back in January, while a number of phones sold by the world’s fourth-largest vendor have only received the paramount OS promotion in China.

Verdict: you have much to learn, grasshopper

OnePlus



It’s not that hard to run a tight ship when you’re only releasing two (fairly similar) products a year, but after the OnePlus X and 2’s Nougat debacle, we were naturally prepared for the worst. But the OnePlus 5, 5T, 3, and 3T all scored Android 8.0 pretty fast, with the former two phones even brought up to 8.1 Oreo, while the latter two are set to skip that minor update and instead receive the far more substantial 9.0 Pie makeover. It seems some companies actually learn from their mistakes.

Verdict: wow

In closing, we'd like to be hopeful things will be different six or twelve months down the line, when talking about the state of Android 9 Pie updates, but old habits die hard, so maybe don't get your hopes up. After all, this time last year, Nougat's market share was slightly higher than Oreo's score today, at 13.5 percent. 

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15 Comments

1. Feanor

Posts: 1365; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Right... The article is about timely Oreo updates and Sony is a clear champion of Oreo updates. Still it is categorised together with ZTE and is dubbed "the underdog" for unrelated reasons (in this case bad market performance). Who is writing the article? The five year old son of some editor?

6. SpencerO

Posts: 31; Member since: Nov 29, 2017

Totally agree. All other parts of the article talk about updates then Sony the champion of Japan the tech capital of the world comes along and suddenly the article is about how the US market is too dumb to buy them and not about how fast and clean their updates are.

2. Boast_Rider

Posts: 535; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

It's time to vote from our wallets. Samsung makes the best hardware by far, but is awful in updating their phones. And the worst part is that even when the phones get updates, it gets only in a few parts of the world. Maybe the unlocked EU variant gets android P in December, but you might have a T-mobile variant and it might not get that update for 5 more months. LG, HTC and motorola are not even worth discussing right now. They have mediocre hardware and even worse update policies. G5 was released in 2016, just like Oneplus 3. And while OP3 will get android 9, G5 didn't even get android 8.0. Shameful. Nokia and Oneplus are my favorite right now, and the only 2 companies I actually consider. Nokia makes amazing midrangers. Nokia 7 plus is my favorite midranger right now, and by far. OnePlus makes great flagship phones at affordable prices and updates them on regular basis. Most reviewers are actually jumping ship to OnePlus 6, including Linus and MKBHD, which is a testament to the hardware and software inside, even when you don't consider the price. Google is the opposite of Samsung. Excellent software, awful hardware. Huawei, Oppo, Vivo: Excellent hardware, software worse than Samsung. They don't even have unlockable bootloaders for f**k's sake. That's a hard no. iPhone: LOL. I can buy 3 Oneplus 6 for the price of an iPhone X where I live.

7. lyndon420

Posts: 6790; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Can't argue what you say especially when it comes to LG. I've had the V30 for just a few months and already I need to get it serviced - got an annoying right facing arrow blinking within the battery icon lately and wireless charging stopped working. Thank goodness for warranties, and if it happens again a few months afterwards I'll be shaming LG big time!!

3. Elvis358

Posts: 227; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

Thats sad Android should learn updating their phones frome IOS

9. DFranch

Posts: 547; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

"Android should learn updating their phones from iOS" Apple doesn't allow other manufacturers to make IOS devices and doesn't have to wrangle a dozen manufacturer's to update phones. Android allows manufacturer's to customize their interface which unfortunately has the downside of delaying updates. Google's phones are updated immediately, just like Apple.

10. NateDiaz

Posts: 1088; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Let me correct you a bit. Google's latest phones are updated immediately, just like Apple.

11. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Yep and the rest of the hundreds of Android models out there take months or longer to get an update.

14. uberzero

Posts: 52; Member since: Jul 07, 2018

Google and Apple are the maker of Android OS and iOS respectively. They have also less range of devices to deal compared to other manufacturers having to test the changes without negatively impact their optimization.

4. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Separate the kernel from the GUI and limit Play Store access for the devices that don't have the newest kernel (which is what makes the OS); that way you - Google - don't wait after OEMs to personalize their UI and after carriers to (s**t)load the phones with their bloatware. Google must know all this, but it has decided that the actual situations is the way to be...

5. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Glad I stayed on my wall; 4ever iphones. There’s no one like ios, its the best mobile OS.

8. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1324; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Google should create hardware templates which it could update directly and on which OEM skins are just that, skins with system level permissions. The only thing that would matter would be the internal hardware and exterior design would be up to the OEM. That would solve so many fragmentation problem but I guess it would create new ones. It would however incentivize OEMs to update their skins quickly or even before new OS versions launched.

12. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

I had Pie on my Essential phone before some Pixels got it. Small Details.

13. MRAOK

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 07, 2018

The reviews of all new Moto/Lenovo phones should prominently display a big red warning note saying "Moto has a problem-plagued history of supports its phones and buying any of its phones is risky."

15. Arthurhkt

Posts: 723; Member since: Apr 19, 2012

For most part, I kinda "understand" why the update was slow, since most the phones that mentioned in the article are skinned. But, a BIG BUT, Motorola has no excuses at all. They are basically stock, and no reason at all for the delay. It is beyond ridiculous.

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