At this point, saying Android has a serious problem when it comes to phones receiving reliable Android upgrades is getting old. We’ve written about it a lot — even I, specifically, have written about it a lot. You’ve told us your thoughts. We all get it. Even with all that, though, the latest announcement of iOS 14 really sends the message home.
This week, Apple officially confirmed that the 2020 iteration of iOS will land on every iPhone since the iPhone 6S. That’s a phone that came out in September 2015, which is nearly five years ago. The biggest movie of that year was Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. Barack Obama was still the President of the United States. Radio stations only seemed to play “Uptown Funk” and The Walking Dead was still one of the most popular TV shows on the air.
Even with a phone that old, Apple is still sending it the latest iOS 14 features, which will allow people still holding onto that device to use it for at least another year.
Meanwhile, the flagship Android device from 2015 was the Samsung Galaxy S6. The most recent official version of Android that phone received was Android 7 Nougat, which dropped in 2016. Of course, it was well into 2017 before the Galaxy S6 actually got it. Since then: nothing.
Imagine for a second that this year, Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 would be getting Android 11. Think hard about it, because that amount of dedication to software upgrades is what iPhone users expect — and what Apple delivers.
It’s not apples-to-apples, but it’s still painful
As I said earlier, we’ve already beaten the “Android is really bad at updates” opinion right into the ground. We’ve also explained a few times why Android phones and iPhones are very different in ways that make it much easier for something like iOS 14 to land on five-year-old devices.
We realize that you can’t make an apples-to-apples comparison between iPhones and Android phones in relation to software upgrades. However, that doesn’t make it hurt any less to see that the iPhone 6S will get iOS 14. It’s still aggravating and makes me envious of the Apple ecosystem.
Granted, a big portion of the upgrades coming to the iPhone 6S via iOS 14 will be things Android has had for a long time. I’m talking about things like home screen widgets, picture-in-picture mode, auto-organized app folders, and the ability to change default apps. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy S6 had a lot of the “new” iPhone features when it launched, in one form or another.
But iOS 14 will also come with new privacy protections, advanced messaging features, new camera and video tricks, and so much more. Even if many of the features are long overdue, at least older iPhones will actually get those features. Meanwhile, even if you buy a $1,000 phone from Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, you’re guaranteed just two years of upgrades, tops.
If iOS 14 was Android 11…
No matter where you stand on the iPhone vs Android debate (and please, keep it civil, people), both sides know the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen operating system. Android users know that they trade-off long-running software upgrades for things like better overall control of their smartphone experience, while iOS users know they trade-off a robust selection of hardware choices for better interconnectivity between their other Apple products.
However, the only thing stopping companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, and even Google itself from offering software updates for as long as Apple does is the will to do so. Google, especially, has no excuse for not continuing to update the original Google Pixel for at least another year. If Apple can give iOS 14 to the iPhone 6S, then the Pixel can easily get Android 11 — or even Android 12, if we’re making a direct comparison.
To send this point home I’m just going to close out this article with a partial list of phones that should be getting Android 11 based on the fact that the iPhone 6S is getting iOS 14. In other words, the phones below would still be getting Android upgrades if Android OEMs cared as much about them as Apple does — but they don’t.