Google Clearly Defines Update Support for Nexus Devices

Android N is nearly upon us and the question that everyone wants to know is if their phone or tablet will see the update.  For their part, Google has clearly outlined which Nexus devices will get updates and for how long after it is no longer for sale.  While the definition has been roughly outlined and discussed by Google, to this point there has never been a document outlining which devices will get updates and when those updates will stop.  That, thanks to a post in the Google Support pages, has been formally defined.

The key takeaway from the new help page is that devices will get a major update (new version of Android) up to 2

Android N on The Nexus 6
Android N on The Nexus 6

years after it first went on sale in the Google Store.  Security updates will be offered for 3 years or 18 months (which ever is last) to devices after it stopped being solid in the store.  So let’s break this down a little.

The Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P went on sale in the Google Store in September 2015.  That means it will get major Android updates until September 2017.  We know that Android N will hit devices sometime this summer (likely August or September) which means, in theory, they will also get Android O if the current release pattern for Android remains the same.  That’s good news and you’ll still get security patches for those devices possibly as long as September 2018.  That’s a really long time in the phone world but the good news is you don’t necessarily have to go upgrade every year just to keep getting the major releases.

For those of you who have a Nexus 9 tablet, Android N is going to represent the last major update for you.  Major version support ends in October but again, you will get security updates to the device for up to another year.  The same thing goes for the Nexus 6.

While this is great for those of us who carry Nexus devices, the question remains for those who use Samsung, Huawei or other devices out there as to if a particular device will get the major releases.  Generally speaking, you can assume that the flagships for 2016 (the Galaxy S7 for example) will see N but after that?  Samsung hasn’t said nor have they published anything like Google has on the Nexus lineup.

Ultimately, while Google is clearing up a not-so fuzzy assumption for Nexus owners, the larger play for them in releasing this help document would well be to put more pressure on their manufacturing partners to do the same before a major version is released.