OnePlus just announced that it's revamping its update policy for some of its devices. For "select" phones from 2023 onward, OnePlus will provide four years of platform upgrades and five years of security patches.
I would like to start off by saying I absolutely commend this. This puts OnePlus nearly in Samsung's league, and above Google. (The Mountain View phone maker only promises three years of Android updates, but matches the five-year security patch commitment.)
However, I noticed two stipulations in OnePlus' announcement. "Select" phones makes me raise an eyebrow, as does the timeline. OnePlus says that it will only apply this policy moving forward, i.e. from the OnePlus 11 onward. Both of these conditions, unfortunately, sour a lot of my good will that this new commitment just created.
What about Nord and Nord N?
"Select" phones strongly implies to me that OnePlus will focus this policy on the numbered flagships, though this isn't confirmed. If this announcement applied to the likes of the Nord and Nord N phones, OnePlus ought to have said it outright.
My current largest complaint about the Nord N phones is the abysmal update policy: one year for Android upgrades and two years of security patches. That's atrocious, especially when OnePlus likes to launch its budget handsets with older versions of Android.
So when I saw this announcement — before fully grasping the "select" distinction — I thought OnePlus had addressed the Nord N problem. My confidence here has cracked considerably.
The regular Nord phones, which we don't see in the U.S., aren't much better at two years/three years. I harp on this because Samsung, which has the same update policy, applies theirs to most of the portfolio. The Galaxy A series enjoys the same amount of updates as the Galaxy S or Galaxy Z models. (Though, those budget handsets' updates come at a much slower pace, but I digress.)
That means your Galaxy A73, Galaxy A53, or even Galaxy A33 will see updates all the way to 2026 with security patches into 2027.
I reached out to OnePlus for confirmation on this, but I have not heard back at time of writing. The company dropped the ball by implying it left out the Nord and Nord N devices.
So no older phones?
The second problem is that this update policy is only forward-looking. Even devices as recent as the OnePlus 10T are stuck with OnePlus' old upgrade schedule instead of getting grandfathered in.
Before you call me unreasonable, I will direct you to what Samsung did when it announced its four-year/5-year policy. It made the announcement on February 9, 2022, the same day the Galaxy S22's Unpacked event. The Korean phone maker included 2021's Galaxy S21 series, plus the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, in that new policy.
The fact that OnePlus is not including the OnePlus 10 Pro or OnePlus 10T in this new push to compete with Samsung is just sad.
OnePlus updates outlook
I truly do commend OnePlus for this new update policy. It's left Google with its pants down — I see no excuse for the company that writes Android and controls the Pixel hardware to offer fewer updates than third parties like Samsung and OnePlus.
However, as I've outlined here, don't let OnePlus pat itself on the back too much. This announcement is a step in the right direction, but it's not good enough yet. I could forgive the lack of grandfathering in 2022 phones if OnePlus would commit to adding all of its devices to this schedule.
I don't like the use of "select" because I think it adds, if you'll pardon the expression, a vote of no confidence to the policy. It's dodgy. OnePlus could simply come out and say it like it is instead of leaving us guessing. That's where I'm most irritated.
OnePlus, stop playing games. Be straight up.