back to article As another vendor promises 3 years of Android updates, we ask: How long should mobile devices receive support?

Almost seven months after the brand splashed down in the UK market, mobile maker Vivo is making some bold promises about the longevity of its upcoming phones. The Chinese company is promising at least three years of software and security updates for selected premium devices introduced after July. And? It's underwhelming. When …

  1. demon driver


    At least. See Fairphone.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: 5.

      And, with Google releasing critical bug fixes every month, the cadence must coincide with the release of those critical patches!

      Samsung seem to have gotten much better. My wife's S10 and my S20+ get the monthly patches within about 3 - 5 days of Google announcing them. In fact, I'm also getting Samsung improvements twice a month, plus the security updates at the beginning of the month, at the moment.

    2. Franco

      Re: 5.

      Agreed. Microsoft (rightly) get plenty of abuse for various things but even their OS's that no one uses (like Vista and Windows 8) got the statutory 5 years full support and 5 years extended support, and I don't know how long Apple provide support for but I'm pretty sure it's longer than the 2+1 support on the AndroidOne program.

      Google really need to be leading the field here, given their tendency to bug hunt in other people's software and then publicly disclose the bug if it isn't patched quickly enough for their Google's liking.

  2. Dave 15

    I would rather NOT have support

    Frankly every single android update has caused my phone to react even slower and even less reliably (a Nokia 2.3 is to be avoided, the worst phone I have ever owned by a very considerable margin).

    My work provided a windows 10 machine, roughly 2 updates a week losing me at least an hour each time as well as an annoying popup plastering itself over the screen and deciding to update whether I was busy or not.

    No, I prefer to choose IF and WHEN I want to take an update. I would prefer to wait for others to have shown it to be stable and working.

    Yes I understand about the crap nature of the over complex software churned out by these people who seem never to have heard of testing, I know it can be hacked, I also know that with no shadow of a doubt there will be yet another hack path found in seconds after the latest patch.

    The best thing to do is be more than a bit cautious about what you do with the machine you use for work and banking. Keep the machine used for rhyming slang banking separate.

    1. LenG

      Re: I would rather NOT have support

      I've never had a problem caused by an android update. My Pixel 2 has gone from 8 thru to 11 without a hitch. This makes me wonder if the problems you have seen are caused by the added gorp many vendors add to the base OS.

      As for windows, I am not a fan or defender of that system but it is easy to set up so that updates do not occur at inconvenient times. TBH, my system also autoblocks OS updates by 1 year and non-security patches by 30 days or thereabouts. If you cannot access these sorts of settings because your provider has locked down the system on a work phone I would suggest you should loudly at your IS support department.

      Of course neither of these systems can compete with linux for ease and reliability of upgrades. It is not perfect but certainly it is light-years ahead of android or windoze.

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Re: I would rather NOT have support

        The only person who had issues with Android updates was a guy with 430 installed apps on his phone. He was my VP of IT and an absolute clod when it came to anything digital.

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: I would rather NOT have support

      <<be more than a bit cautious about what you do with the machine you use for work and banking>>

      That would be my i7 notebook then. And I am thanks.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I would rather NOT have support

      Microsoft release 1 set of updates each month, second Tuesday. Unless you go seeking (manually starting a search for updates), in which case, you will also be offered the "preview" updates for the next month at the end of the current month.

      Reboot with security patches takes around a minute on my 2018 ThinkPad (Core i5). I've no idea why your machine is taking so long to reboot, I'd give it back to the IT support to be looked at, even an update to the current version of Windows 10 (20H2) shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. It sound like something is seriously wrong with the configuration of your machine.

      1. Phil NZ

        Re: I would rather NOT have support

        My work laptop, Surface Book 2, vanilla Windows 10, AAD joined (no Group Policy or legacy login script crud) took about 3 minutes non-invasive update plus 30 seconds reboot for the (early adopter) 20H2 to 21H1 update the other day.

        I’d agree, sounds like you have a poorly managed build and overly intrusive systems management/patching. That’s an IT problem and not a device/OS/patching problem.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    With more manufacturers jumping on the marketing bandwagon of 'we are providing updates for 3 years' it might drag up the other phone companies to do the same, or even try and out do each other by offering 4 or 5 years of updates.

    I think 5 years is around the sweet spot. I am not bothered about getting a new Android version every year as I doubt a 5 year old phone would run the latest Android version particularly well anyway. Just update to whichever is the oldest version still getting security updates and then provide the patches. Then when support runs out, unlock the boot loader so you can flash other community build firmware etc.

    If the open source Linux distros such as Debian can produce LTS versions with 5 years of updates, then surely these billion dollar companies, Google and Samsung can do it as well.

    1. druck Silver badge

      There's nothing wrong with my 5 year old GalaxyS7, battery is still good for a day or more, it runs everything I want at a decent speed, photos and video are decent. Now I've cleared the pocket fluff which was preventing the charging cable connecting securely, it's got years more life in it. The last firmware update was September 2020, but I don't think its getting any more, as they've announced the S8 isn't.

      1. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

        You do realise that you have now condemned your battery to fail, the digitser to stop working and and the CPU to develop a thermal fault - and all so you could say how wonderful it was :-)

    2. big_D Silver badge

      My brother-in-law finally updated his Galaxy S4 mini at the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020. That was released in 2013!

      He only replaced it, because WhatsApp stopped working on it.

      I doubt it has had an update in a good 6 years.

      A lot of people can't afford to change their phones every couple of years and, if it is still working, many won't change it even then. It is "just another tool" to them, they replace their TV every 10 - 15 years, the toaster every 20 - 30 years, the landline telephone maybe every 20 years. They don't see their mobile phone as any different to the landline phone, in terms of its durability.

      5 years should be the minimum, I think. It should at least be getting monthly security updates in cadence with Google releasing the information over the fixes publicly.

      1. Adelio

        More to the point, people were updating their phones even when they could not really afford it. (My sons parter, i am talking to you)

        I have a s9+ and plan to keep it for at least 5 years.

        As any phone i buy MUST have a headphone socket and a memory card slot I probalby am not going to find many phones to buy!

        I think that manufacturers that remove the headphone socket did so for only ONE reason. Money.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          I haven't had a headphone socket for, probably, 5 years now. To be honest, I don't really miss it.

          The free USB-C <-> Jack dongle I got with my Huawei still works with my Samsung (although I got a pair of USB-C headphones with that) but I've used it twice, I think. I usually use the headphones when out walking the dog, and the lack of wires (using BT) means I am not constantly ripping the 'phones out of my ears, as the cable gets tangled up with the dog's lead.

          I never heard any difference between the headset on my old phone (with jack) and the new phone with the dongle.

          The removal saves only a couple of cents in the BOM, but it removes an additional point of failure and an additional ingress point for dust and moisture.

          If you want to stick with a jack, fine. I can just tell you, that I noticed no real change in audio quality and I don't miss the jack and there are good technical reasons for removing it, in terms of device reliability.

          I hope you can continue to find phones that suit your needs.

        2. fuzzie

          I've you are, as am I, a fan of headphone jack and SD cards, you should look at the Sony Xperia range. They had a brief moment of insanity when they removed the headphone jack, but it's back. Both those items have been nearly identifying features of the range. Add in that they've been really good open source supporters and listed second/third after Google for timeous software updates.

      2. Dave559 Silver badge

        "[replace] the toaster every 20 - 30 years"

        It's all the horrible and wasteful world of "disposable" consumerism. I sadly doubt that you would get 20 or 30 years' life out of a new toaster nowadays.

        We did have to replace the toaster in the staff room at work a couple of years ago, as it had finally given up. But then again, that toaster did say "Made in W. Germany" on it! I suspect that the replacement sadly won't last as long.

        1. dieseltaylor


          My dualit classic is 30 this year. Two changes of the elements and the timer after 20 years. As there no other working parts I expect to see a few more decades from it.

          And it has always been used daily at least once.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          My mother received a Sunbeam hand mixer as a wedding present (early 60s). She used it every week, until it died in 2004. On the other hand, I've had 3 different (named brand) hand mixers in the last decade...

      3. Ken G Silver badge

        I'm entirely with you on the principle but do you really expect Android to be around in 15 years? I think it will have joined Symbion, Blackberry and Windows Phone in the dust.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          No, but the technology is maturing, there is no real need to update every 2 years - which was forced on us by the old carrier subsidy schtick.

          PCs were improving so much in the 80s and 90s, that if you really used it, you needed to replace it every 18 months or so. Then the market matured and a 10 year old high-end device is still "adequate" today - I have an old 2010 Sony Vaio Core i7, which is still "fast enough" to run as a Linux Mint desktop (battery died about 2 years ago).

          Smartphones are moving into the same category, especially mid range and high end devices. They don't need to be replaced every year or 2, a five year old phone is still "good enough" for most people. 10 years is probably still pushing it.

          But everything is built down to a price and designed to break or be obsolete after a couple of years. That is why I very much like the EU initiatives to make everything repairable and force manufacturers to keep spare parts available to customer for at least 10 years.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    "support" is a sales "feature"

    Think about software support vs battery life - essentially phones are designed to be replaced after a year or two. Batteries have a limited life, and more updates will reduce the battery life.

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      Support as a sales feature doesn't work for me. The target should be "security by design", as in the Sale of Goods Act definition "FIT FOR PURPOSE". If it ain't secure when it's sold, it ain't fit to be sold. Simples.

      And as for "batteries have a limited life" - this means they MUST be replaceable.

      I know I'll get downvotes for this next statement, but IT suppliers should get out of the mindset of "our stuff is complicated, we'll fix it later". I was going to write that no other industry gets away with that mindset but then I realised that the exception that proves that rule is Boeing.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

        Auditors - another exception?

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      Batteries have a limited life, and more updates will reduce the battery life.

      That doesn't follow at all. There is no reason an update would have any impact on battery life other than poorly written code.

      As I have mentioned elsewhere I own a Samsung Galaxy S8, which will no longer be supported by Samsung, despite being only 4 years old.

      There are however, community supported ROMs available, some even based on Android 11 which will run fine on my hardware.

      This begs the question why a group of nerdy blokes in basements can manage that, but a corporation with $32 billion in profit last year can't.

      1. Matt_payne666

        Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

        "This begs the question why a group of nerdy blokes in basements can manage that, but a corporation with $32 billion in profit last year can't."

        I think you've answered you own question!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

          For one thing, they don't add bloat.

          I'd been thinking that android had lost it's way since android 5, but I recently saw a stock android 9, and it was a pleasure to use.

      2. Ken G Silver badge

        Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

        The obvious answer is that they make that USD32B by selling new phones.

        I used my Blackberry z10 until app support failed and after trying a few, bought a Xiaomi in 2017 that I passed onto my wife a few years later and is still getting security patches, as is the replacement Xiaomi I bought. I don't have any real need to replace it and my home (not work) laptop is 8 years old but still able to run Win10 at speed. My car is 20 years old and passes government safety tests.

        Smart phones are just a mature technology now too and there's no reason to change unless you want a slightly bigger one, or a different colour or want to show off how much you spent to the neighbours. It's a disruption to an industry that, like personal computers in the 90's, grew up on having new features each year.

      3. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

        Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

        This begs the question why a group of nerdy blokes in basements can manage that, but a corporation with $32 billion in profit last year Wont... tftfy ;-)

    3. Woodnag replaced after a year or two

      Er, no. My iPhone 6S is over 5 years old and just got the latest OS update.

      Changed the battery once, works very nicely.

      1. Jay 2

        Re: replaced after a year or two

        Snap and snap. Though I don't think it'll get a full iOS update in August/September as it slides very slowly out of the sliding full support window (but it should still get the odd security update, my ages old iPad Air does). Overall I'm waiting until later this year to see what comes out. Right now the 12 Mini or SE 2nd gen would be my preferred replacements.

        I'd like to think more 'Droid shippers could throw out patches for a similar amount of time but there does seem to be a bit of pass the parcel whilst Google, handset manufacturer and telco all try to blame each other.

    4. Tony W

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      Some updates to my Motorola One have reduced battery usage.

      Having said that, from an environmental point of view replaceable batteries should be mandatory, althoujgh this is only one aspect of reducing the number of devices thrown away because they can't be repaired or updated.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      Software support certainly would be a sales feature for my current el cheapo Chinese phone. No updates in the entire year since I bought it. On the other hand, my 3 year old Nokia 1 which I'm keeping as a backup just got another system update this morning.

      However, the el cheapo phone is much nicer to use... I just wouldn't do anything sensitive with it like use a banking app...

    6. dajames

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      Batteries have a limited life, and more updates will reduce the battery life.

      Methinks that doesn't follow ... updates could improve the efficiency of the software and actually increase battery life.

      Even if you're right, you're making an argument in favour of user-replaceable batteries not against software updates.

    7. Boothy

      Re: "support" is a sales "feature"

      I've still got a OnePlus 3, that came out in June 2016, so isn't far off 5 years old now.

      It got updated all the way to Android 9 in May 2019, which improved battery life compared to the earlier OS versions.

      Depending on usage, (I mostly use messaging, bit of news, and make perhaps one phone call every two days, although this typically lasts up to an hour each time), the phone will typically last between 2 and 3 days between charges.

      The only time it's an issue is if I've had heavy use for some reason, such as taking lots of pictures, where it might not last the day, but if I know I'll be doing that, I take my booster with me.

      No idea if good battery life is due to how I charge, or the environment it's in etc. I'm in the UK, so no excessive heat or cold, and I typically run the phone down to 15% (when the warning comes on) before charging, and then unplug as soon as it's ~95% which is when it's charging at only a trickle anyway. (Using the original charger and cable from OnePlus).

  5. Anoymous Coward

    Five years of support should be the minimum. Smartphones are not free, and a depreciation cost of £50 per annum seems expensive. There is no inherent reason why a 5 year old phone with today's OS should be any slower than when it was new.

    I have a 2007 laptop that initially shipped with Vista which now runs W10 on SSD which works fine. I should be able to do the same with a phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      runs W10 on SSD

      Why would you like to run W10 on a phone? :-)

      1. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

        Re: runs W10 on SSD

        I guess the downvotes were from people who got confused because you omitted to say "bazinga"

      2. Ken G Silver badge

        Re: runs W10 on SSD

        Come here young 'un and admire the fine oak veneer on my MS Lumia 650

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: runs W10 on SSD

        "Why would you like to run W10 on a phone? :-)"

        I *liked* Windows Phone and would more than happily have stayed with it, I found it far more intuitive that either Android or IOS, as did those of my users who had them.

    2. Adelio

      In my eyes depreciation is something that companies do. people just buy items and expect them to work the same on days 1 as for now.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Doesn't the sales of goods act guarantee 5 years?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    support for what?

    I'd rather have a phone that makes and receives phone calls and texts and doesn't need any updates. I'd like it to keep working for at least ten years.

    I have an Android phone but what's the point? To download any apps that made it do anything else would mean I'd need a Google account, which (a) I don't want in any case (why would I invite tracking?) and (b) I can't figure out how I'd even set up an account on the phone.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: support for what?

      Then you aren't in the market for a smart phone which this article is about.

      Do you lurk on threads about fridges telling people that you don't like your food refrigerated and therefore don't see why anybody should have a fridge?

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: support for what?

        This article is about the amount of time support (ie security updates) are needed for a handheld computer.

        These are not smart phones but handheld computers that are able (often badly) to make and receive phone calls.

        1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

          Re: support for what?

          >>These are not smart phones but handheld computers that are able (often badly) to make and receive phone calls.

          This - especially for 'Smart' phones.

          The number of people who don't grok that is rather high (helped, no doubt, by the marketing of these hand held computers). Its not a phone at all, it is a laptop that mutated its screen into its keyboard and got washed in a boil wash until in shrunk enough to fit in a pocket.

          In my experience, sometimes the voice quality is about the same as if it were still in the boil wash!

    2. Matt_payne666

      Re: support for what?

      B) much the same way you set up an account on the register...

      Even my 80yr old dad can just about manage that on his phone!

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: support for what?

      Google account not needed.

      You can sideload android APKs so avoiding google store / need for google account (though typically needs settings tweak & do with care as you need to trust the source of what you are installing)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be careful watch youi wish for...

    A lot of these low-end Chinese phones use the firmware update .apk to remotely install adware apps, remote code exucution using LUA scripts and can grant any permission to any app through reflection and run with system permissions.

    (I suggest you purchase a used Pixel device or an iPhone SE and avoid any third-party apps if you're trying to save money without compromising security/privacy)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Be careful watch youi wish for...

      Be careful where you buy your tinfoil, the government are laminating plastic to look the same but allow the radio waves through to your brain!

  8. Rob F

    Mobile tech gets old quickly

    I can understand the predicament that vendors have with mobile phones as even though the form factors aren't changing that much, the componentry dramatically changes in new phones across 5 (or even 3 years). We have problems keeping spare parts for enterprise IT equipment for that long because of the supply chain changes. You should see how much HPE charge if you want hardware support beyond those periods.

    I'd be of the opinion that vendors should allow you to move to a generic Android or customised ROM once support for your device ends, so you can at least continue to receive software updates.

    Going back to the hardware topic, it's possibly an option like what they have done with some OS's to have a long term release version that people can choose to purchase that gives them a longer period of support and parts availability. The question though would be whether it was in anyone's financial interest to do so.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android Automotive?

    And what about the updates for the soon to be released crop of Android Automotive systems from loads of car makers? Somehow I don’t see cars being scrapped after 3 years of updates

    1. AndyMulhearn

      Re: Android Automotive?

      Not just Android, I have a 2015 Ford Focus and can find no sign of any software updates for it. It seems as this kind of software becomes more pervasive it’s level of support doesn’t keep pace.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Android Automotive?

      > Somehow I don’t see cars being scrapped after 3 years of updates


      Lacking updates it will be dangerous (if not deadly!) to drive, not knowing the recent speed limit or traffic direction changes, and being unable to link in with the newest version of the traffic control system. Don't forget cars aren't anymore like the cars we used to know (and often love), a dumb machine with a smart pilot; Now it's a moving computing device with a payload.

    3. fuzzie

      Re: Android Automotive?

      See also Android TV and Google TV. Same thing.

      The more ephemeral consumer software gets backed into medium-life consumer goods, the more urgently we need either minimum support standards and/or right to repair legislation so unbrick old(er) devices. I'd argue the software support cycle should at least match the hardware support, but preferably the parts supply cycle.

  10. Kev99 Silver badge

    Let's see. My neighbor has a 1962 Corvette and it's still supported. He also has 1965 Bronco and it's still supported. I have a 2008 Sky and it's still supported. 90% of the updates have little to nothing to do with functionality. They're created because new department head likes gee-gaws better the frim-fram or to fix crappy coding that should have been caught before it went out the door. You know, like mircorosft products.

    1. PRR Bronze badge

      What is "support"?

      > "...a 1962 Corvette and it's still supported."

      You can still buy some parts because GM makes a PROFIT on them. GM won't offer you a free transmission or radiator just because they make a different (better??) type now. Typically many parts are no longer available after a few years (Vettes are special).

      In my youth cars did not even have seatbelts. Or rounded ashtray handles. The scar on my back is from a minor shunt and bounce-around. Even when seatbelts became standard in new cars, no maker offered free or cheap or easy retro-fit seatbelts. My dad spent a whole morning drilling our 1956 Plymouth for belts.

      Honda does offer my 2002 Accord new parts for free. It has been recalled twice for bad airbags which kill people. Nothing on a cellphone normally has that level of liability.

      (Yes, here in the Maine mountains every summer people get in serious trouble when they do not understand that cell service is not universal and help may not be a 9-1-1 away, and they can die; Geraldine did.)

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: What is "support"?

        Poor Geraldine. If she had had the sense to grab a stick and hammer SOS on a tree trunk, she wouldn't have starved to death in her tent. The searchers were everywhere and walked less than two miles from her on at least one occasion.

        But we are wandering far afield from software updates, far enough to risk getting lost in the Maine woods ourselves.

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge


    So I don't really care, because I need to root my phones for various reasons, which precludes any updates.

    My Moto G6 Play is still on 8.0.0 from April 2018, even though they've released several updates since then.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget support...

    Supply with root access.

  13. Snowy Silver badge

    They can skip new versions

    Just keep the version fully patched.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Still getting regular updates on my nearly 3 y o Huawei.

    So whilst I may be a threat to Cisco's profits national security, I know that my data is leaking to China in the most secure way possible!

  15. PTW

    Elephant in the room

    "x years from the date we announce we're discontinuing the model" or you end up with the Chromebook nonsense, where you have to check the release date or you can pay full price for something with only 12 months support left.

    *I'd never buy one but a friend did

  16. PerlyKing
    Thumb Down

    Qualcomm is the problem

    According to Fairphone, it's Qualcomm that's the problem - they only support their near-ubiquitous SoCs for three years (now four), after which you're on your own. Or, preferably for them, you buy a new phone with their latest SoC.

    This may be why nerds in basements can support phones for longer than the OEMs: the nerds are probably not as worried about any legal or commercial repercussions.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward

    It's all about the money.

    Updating a phone costs money. If the phone(s) can be pumped and dumped, then it's the users' problem, not the company's problem.

    Also, CEO fatcat types need moar moniez for their bling lifestyle.

  18. Elledan

    Stop locking the darn things down

    I think the elephant in the room with Android (and iOS) devices is the fact that they are not generic computing platforms like e.g. a PC. You can take a 2005-era or even 1990s PC or laptop and you can install on it whatever you want.Heck, write your own OS if that's your thing.

    Meanwhile, smartphones are locked-down platforms where 'flashing firmware' is generally an arcane procedure that requires 'unlocking' the bootloader and jumping through various other non-intuitive hoops to hopefully end up with not a bricked device at the end.While some are brave enough to install e.g. LineageOS on their older Android device, it's neither enjoyable nor guaranteed to result in a functional device even if nothing breaks.

    While Intel and Apple are pushing their whole 'signed bootloader' nonsense, so far endusers on these platforms still have a modicum of freedom here, allowing them to keep using a platform long after the manufacturer has given up on it. See e.g. Apple Power & MacBooks. Meanwhile pity anyone who is still using an iPhone 4 or 4s.

    Another consideration is that of e-waste and upcycling. Although those smartphones often have SoCs in them that are pretty darn powerful, they're coupled with pitiful cooling solutions (if any) so that by the time they are tossed, those SoCs have barely had time to stretch their legs. Imagine if every one of those millions of smartphones that get tossed each year could be upcycled into a decent desktop/laptop/RPi-like toy system for general use?

    A lot of this mashes up with the whole Right to Repair movement. If you can repair a device, you can likely also reconfigure and upcycle it. And everyone wins, except for the investors as the piles of e-waste grow ever smaller.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For security updates.

    Indefinitely or until the underlying OS gets no more security updates. Whichever comes first.

    I have a set of shutters in my lounge that cost £2500 to not only purchase but to also have installed.

    The company that installed them supports them for 10 years at no cost. If something breaks, they send a man to repair them. I have used this service a few times over the years, I'm about halfway through the 10 years.

    A cellphone manufacturer should be able to match this easily as I suspect mobile phones are a lot more profitable than window shutters and you dont have to send a man onsite to every phone to roll out software updates. You also don't need to keep a massive pile of spare parts in a warehouse somewhere.

  20. JohnG

    Open source after support ends

    However long support is provided for a mobile or tablet, when support ends, manufacturers ought to allow the device to be flashed with one of the open source OSes. Ideally, they would allow access to drivers for the outdated hardware, to allow these to be fully integrated in to open source offerings. Older devices are not attractive to those in the market for a new device, so they wouldn't lose out. Open It's better than having so many viable devices sent to recycling or landfill.

    Some manufacturers go out of their way to prevent their phones being flashed with anything other than their own offering.

  21. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Limiting update durations is just another way to incite people to buy a new handset.

  22. _LC_

    The “system” is a fuck-up

    Android is irredeemably fucked-up. Every couple of weeks you'll get a bulletin warning you about severe vulnerabilities that are remote-exploitable. Every time, the “MediaFramework” is amidst the culprit code. Android has no propper hardware abstraction. The – closed source – hardware driver BLOBs (binary large objects) look worse than cheese from Edam. They let you in via the modem (telephone), WiFi and even freaking BlueTooth.

    I will take a look at Harmony-OS. Nothing can be worse than Google's Android.

  23. IGotOut Silver badge

    I miss WinPhone.

    By far the best UI, and if the cartier decided not to push out the update, you just got it from MS instead.

  24. dajames

    Two different issues

    There are really two different issues here -- for how long should manufacturers offer OS upgrades, and for how long should they offer security fixes for the OS that's already installed (be that the original or an upgrade already applied).

    I'm fairly happy that there should be a limit of around 3-5 years for OS upgrades, but I think security fixes should be offered for at least ten years, and preferably for the lifetime of the device. This is not just to protect the owner of the device in question, but to protect others, because the real danger is that an insecure device may be used to spread malware and nuisance (e.g. spam), and to leak details (contacts, etc) of the friends and associates of the owner of the device.

  25. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Once again, not a word on Apple's '5-year plus' support for handsets.

    Reg your anti-Apple crusade is getting more and more ridiculous. You've lost all credibility with me now.

  26. fishman

    All that I care about is getting security updates to my Android smartphone - I don't care about running the latest version of Android.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite

    Now relegated to backup/travel phone. Currently running Android 10.

    Released July 2018.

    Purchased September 2018.

    Last Updated February 2021.

  28. Horndoggie

    Two years is not enough

    The big problem is manufacturers getting away with a two year life cycle. The world has become disposable. Yes, technology advances, but in a world where all most people do is Facebook and Instagram, how much computing power do we really need in you hand? Even the earliest phones old do so much more than 99% of users ever know. How about building a product that lasts. How about building a product that you can see when outdoors. How about building a product with user replaceable batteries.

    It's time for a new industry.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Two years is not enough

      Two years isn't enough. Six years is fine. Like every single iPhone out there. Not that the Register will EVER tell you that.

      After six years technology is likely to have moved on sufficiently that most users will have a legitimate need to upgrade, even if there are a percentage of stick-in-the-muds who will always bleat that "SMS was good enough for me". The World wouldn't advance at all if it waited on these people.

      Batteries don't need to be replaceable in the 'click on, click off' style of the old feature phones (they last WAY longer now than they used to, and most will last the lifetime of the handset) but it would be useful if they were 'replaceable with minimal user effort' - e.g. unscrewing a backplate. This would kill design though, and ultimately that's what most users value above absolute replaceability.

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