What you need to know

  • A company executive explained why the OnePlus 12 won’t receive a seven-year software update, unlike Google and Samsung’s latest flagships.
  • Kinder Liu, OnePlus president, emphasized that prioritizing the overall user experience is crucial, suggesting that longer software support alone doesn’t guarantee a better user experience if hardware falls short.
  • Liu likened a smartphone to a sandwich, suggesting that extended software support doesn’t matter if the overall user experience turns sour.

A OnePlus executive spilled the beans on why the OnePlus 12 won’t get a seven-year software update like Google and Samsung did for their latest flagships.

Kinder Liu, OnePlus President and COO, told Tom’s Guide that obsessing over software updates isn’t essential if it means sacrificing the overall user experience. Simply having longer software support doesn’t guarantee a better user experience if other aspects like hardware or design don’t measure up, according to him.

In the smartphone arena, there are currently only two big players offering the longest software updates for their top-notch Android phones: Samsung and Google. Both companies are going all out with seven years of Android updates for the Galaxy S24 series and the Pixel 8 duo. Meanwhile, OnePlus takes the silver with a four-year update policy, throwing in an extra year for security updates.

Liu said slapping on seven years of Android updates “completely misses the point.” According to him, it’s not just about piling on the years; your phone’s user experience has to stay smooth throughout. In simpler terms, the phone needs to age like fine wine for those updates to really make a difference.

He compared a smartphone to a sandwich. “Some manufacturers are now saying that the filling in their sandwich—their phone’s software—will still be good to eat in seven years’ time,” Liu said. “But what they’re not telling you is that the bread in the sandwich, the user experience, might be moldy after four years. Suddenly, a seven-year software update policy doesn’t matter because the rest of your experience with the phone is terrible.”

Liu added that OnePlus teamed up with TÜV SUD to put the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R through some hardcore tests, simulating years of wear and tear. After crunching the numbers, OnePlus decided to back up a “fast and smooth” performance guarantee for four years.

The exec also highlighted the potential battery degradation a phone could endure after seven years of non-stop use. “When our competitors say their software policy will last seven years, remember that their phone’s battery may not,” he added.

In the upscale realm of Android smartphones, a fresh showdown is brewing over how long manufacturers pledge to support software updates. Traditionally, Android phones lagged behind iPhones on that front, but the game’s shifting with Samsung and Google now committing to lengthier updates.

It’s a win for consumers, as long as the hardware plays ball. Essentially, it’s about time smartphone design catches up to the extended software support.