OnePlus Attempts to One-Up Google By Committing to Four Years of Android Software Updates

Software updates are king in the Android world, where the latest version always seems like one over-the-air update away.

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A photo of the OnePlus 10 Pro
Will the OnePlus 10 Pro be a part of the company’s promise of software updates?
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

OnePlus? More like plus one more Android update! Beginning next year, OnePlus says it will offer an additional year of OxygenOS updates to its smartphones, which beats out Google’s current offering of only three years for its Pixel phones.

OnePlus announced the change at an event in London, where it also revealed that Oxygen OS 13.1 will launch globally in the first half of 2023. The new operating system adds features like the Spatial Audio ability developed by Google and two new always-on display options, one of which was created with Spotify to offer a music-based AOD screensaver. OxygenOS 13.1 also brings a new “aquamorphic” design, barely related to Google’s Material You, though you’ll still see some bits of it throughout OnePlus’s interpretation of Android. OnePlus offers a walkthrough website where you can preview the UI changes.

Gary Chen, head of software products at OnePlus, says OxygenOS is integral to the OnePlus experience because its fans influence it. “As a user-oriented company, we do everything we can to enhance user experience. With more users keeping their devices for longer, we want to make sure we can offer that possibility.”

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OnePlus hasn’t offered specifics on which of its smartphone releases from this year will get four rounds of Android updates. Its most recent releases, including the OnePlus 10T and OnePlus 10 Pro, all promised three years of OS updates. OnePlus’s cheaper devices, primarily its Nord line, have only promised two OS updates thus far. All phones have three years of security updates.

By comparison, Google still says in its support documentation that it offers up to three years of software updates and up to five years of security updates for its Pixel devices, which should help keep users on older devices patched as hardware ages and goes awry. Samsung, which sells the most Android devices in the U.S., promises four years of software updates and five years of security updates for its flagship lineup and most popular mid-tier devices.

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It’s all good news when another Android manufacturer commits to the longevity of a piece of hardware. It used to be you were only promised two years of updates, which meant if you were trying to save money on an older device, you were left in the dust in terms of software support.

Also, just because a manufacturer swears it won’t leave you hanging, remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get every new version of Android on time. Google tends to roll out software updates to the latest Pixel devices first, followed by older generations. Then it’s up to the other OEMs to work on the new version of Android with their respective interpretations—OnePlus’s is OxygenOS, and Samsung’s is One UI.

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At the very least, now OnePlus has some bragging rights until Google decides to add another year of support to the Pixel. It also makes it easier for casual phone shoppers to consider a OnePlus device, increasing the pressure on other companies to follow suit with more extended device support.