Motorola’s Android update commitment has ended up overshadowing the launch of its new Edge 20 series smartphones, after hastily-retracted suggestions of half-hearted OS releases led to widespread criticism. The saga – which Motorola is not any stranger to now – underscores how patchy Android updates are often and how confusing things often is for owners.
The Motorola Edge 20 series launched earlier within the week, with three new models. the sting 20 lite, Edge 20, and Edge 20 Pro continue the company’s push into the cheaper region of the market and promise “a pure version of Android 11” that has “no clunky software skins, no duplicate apps” instead of “duplicating the good things Google does with Android.”
That sounded great, as long as customized OS versions are often a key reason Android smartphone owners are left running out-of-date software. Confusion, however, descended when a Motorola rep told Android Authority yesterday that its commitment to future Android updates would be supported the life-cycle of the device within the market. “If we do find that the device features a longer life cycle within the market, we’ll obviously review to ascertain whether it needs more OS upgrades,” the unnamed representative told the location.
That uncertainty – beyond, the Motorola rep said, a commitment to at least one OS update – clearly didn’t go down well, especially since the corporate does have a diary of mixed messages on this front. Last year, with the launch of the Edge+, for instance, it only initially promised one OS update. That was later corrected, with Motorola “excited to share” that – like most other Android phone-makers – it might be pushing out a minimum of two versions instead.
Much an equivalent way, Motorola is now insisting that this year’s Edge 20 series will, indeed, get a minimum of two major Android OS updates. There’ll even be two years of security updates.
“Motorola edge 20 pros, edge 20, and edge 20 lite will receive a minimum of 2 major android OS upgrades and a couple of years of bi-monthly security updates,” Motorola said during a statement. “These devices are protected by ThinkShield for mobile, which offers additional security protection. Essential features also can be updated via the Playstore [sic], which allows us to supply key updates more often. Users can expect ongoing support for software features like new My UX experiences, new camera features, and new Ready For experiences hooked into hardware compatibility.”
For those considering a foothold 20 series device – which generally looks to be solid phones for their mainstream price tags –, that’s excellent news. Still, it’s a reminder that the Android update environment remains far away from ideal for all Google’s efforts. Although some OEMs became better at releasing OS upgrades for their existing phones and promptly after Google finalizes the software, that is still the exception instead of the norm.
It’s a lingering contrast from Apple, which usually supports an extended list of older devices with each iOS update. iOS 15, currently publicly beta, will work on devices as far back because the iPhone 6s, released in 2015. While not all of the newest features could also be supported, given hardware differences, the very fact that even those with devices six years old can get the most recent OS version – and on day one among its release – is critical and reassuring.
Apple isn’t perfect at this either. The controversy around its updates quietly throttling older phones with aging batteries, for instance, demonstrates that there’s more to updates than simply new software. Communication is equally important so that owners know exactly what they’re – and aren’t – getting with each major release.
All an equivalent, Motorola‘s fumbles in the week, and therefore the way that has overshadowed the sting 20 series launch, does the corporate and – more broadly – Android no favors. The platform’s flexibility and wide availability are undoubtedly among its key strengths, not to mention beloved fans. Still, the flip side is potentially being left in update limbo as manufacturers decide what’s, and isn’t, in their best interest when it involves support commitments. Two years of OS updates hardly seemed generous to start with, and it seems time that Android users could expect more from the businesses they buy their smartphones from.