Why Are New Android Phones Launching With Old Android OS?

Even though we’ve almost reach the end of 2017, there is a constant flux of high-end phones launching week in and week out. We recently saw three high profile Android phones launching in November itself, the Razer Phone, HTC U11+ (a mid range variant called the HTC U11 Life was launched as well) and the OnePlus 5T. Excluding the HTC U11+, the OnePlus 5T and the Razer Phone have the best specifications you can ask for in an Android phone. Snapdragon 835, up to 8GB of RAM and umpteen amount of storage.

But, these two phones have one thing in common which should not be acceptable in November of 2017. Both the devices run on an Android OS version which is more than a year old. Android 8.0 Oreo was launched back in August and it has been three months since it was made available for all these big smartphone companies to adopt and install in its new phones.

When the OnePlus 5T was launched, the Chinese smartphone maker said it is due to the intensive testing programme that it has not yet introduced Android 8.0 Oreo in the latest OnePlus 5T. Razer gave a similar reason and said it will push out an update soon enough. But, is soon enough good enough? You’re paying close US $700 for the Razer Phone and the higher end OnePlus 5T has a price tag of US $549, at this price, a consumer at least deserved whatever the latest software is in the market.

Yes, at the price these two phones have the best specifications in the market and the performance will be amazing enough to ignore what Android OS version these phones are running.

But, won’t the latest and greatest Android OS match better with the latest and greatest chipset? With Android 8.0 Oreo, Google introduced faster boot speeds, tighter security and those notification dots along with a lot of under the hood improvements. That should amount to something more than just, “it looks great, it will great as well.” That is usually our defence for phones running older Android OS versions.

An average consumer barely even notices what OS version their phone is running. But, it matters, because the latest version of any operating system means that it performs better than the previous one and will be better for the longevity of your phone.

Android 8.0 Oreo is currently available in only 0.3% Android phones, while iOS 11, which was launched in September is present in over 50% of iOS devices. For further context, here is the Android OS and the percentage of Android phones running it:

  • Android KitKat (13.8%) – 2013,
  • Lollipop (27.2%) – 2014,
  • Marshmallow (30.9%) – 2015
  • Nougat (20.6%) – 2016

Android Lollipop, launched back in 2014 is more prevalent than Android Nougat that was launched in 2016. This tells you the story of Android’s adoption rate, especially when compared to iOS 11. Even iOS 10, which was launched in 2016 is available in 38% of the iOS devices currently out in the market.

It is hard to believe that companies like Razer and OnePlus would bring out their marquee phones with dated software because of lack of effort. It may be because the difference between Android Nougat and Android Oreo from the look of it, isn’t much. An avrage consumer would not make out the difference unless the consumer is coming from KitKat or Gingerbread. Fragmentation of Android devices is also a reason why so many smartphones currently never see a major software upgrade through their lifecycle.

Google’s Android One resurgence shows that the company wants more people to adopt to the latest OS and not wait for other OEMs to make a skin based on the latest Android OS and then push it out to consumers. Whether the Android One project will be a success is yet to be seen and how the adoption rate will change for Android 8.0 Oreo.

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