There has been quite an uproar over HTC announcing that its One X and One X+ flagships from 2012 won’t be receiving any updates anymore, and for good reason. Its latest update was Android 4.2.2, which arrived more than a year ago. I find it unacceptable that we’re not getting updates at the very least for that 18 months period they promised us for flagship devices (which really should be applied to all devices, but that’s a discussion for another time).
I’ve said it before, but that 18 months period of updates, should really refer to Google’s 18 months of updates after the OEM’s phones are launched. So let’s take HTC One X which was launched in spring of 2012, right before Android 4.1. In the 18 months period, Android 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and even 4.4 should be included. This is the 18 months period of updates from Google, and since HTC released its phone right before this period started, this is the updates the HTC One X should be getting (which HTC One X+ should be getting even Android 4.5/5.0).
This is not a long period of time for updates. Apple provides updates for twice as long, even if some features are missing, and 18 months is not even the typical full contract period. So your phone won’t even get the updates that came out during your contract period. Something is not right with this system, but let’s say 18 months would be enough. However, OEMs don’t even seem to provide us with that, and some of them, like HTC in this case, only provide us with updates that came out in the year of the phone’s release, and that’s it.
Nvidia discontinued the AP33 and AP37 chipsets and aren’t releasing 4.4 BSPs for them. the N7(2012) has 4.4 because T30L wasn’t dropped.
But now, HTC is saying that this is Nvidia’s fault because they stopped supporting Android 4.4 for some Tegra 3 chips, which the exception of the version in Nexus 7. If you remember HTC used the same reason with the HTC One S last year, when they said Qualcomm isn’t supporting the Snapdragon S3 chip anymore.
Now, I’m not saying HTC is lying, because I believe them, but this seems to be happening quite a lot to HTC, which is why I wouldn’t exactly call them blameless. One way to get suppliers to support their components for longer periods of time is to sign contracts with them to force them to provide upgrades for that long. It’s really no rocket science here, and it happens in all sort of industries all the time. So I’d say that HTC has almost half the blame here.
That being said, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and other chip makers need to be forced either by us, smartphone customers, or OEMs (which are their customers), to respect the “Update Alliance” pact – written or not written, it doesn’t matter. It’s the very least they can do for smartphone and tablet customers. Personally, I still think 2 full years of updates (on time, not by delaying one update for a year, and then calling it the end) is the sweet spot, but at the moment I’d take the 18 months if they all made sure it’s something consistent we can all expect for our devices.
They all (including smartphone OEMs) have a culture of pumping and dumping their components on the market, without caring about them for very long after that, and that needs to change, and give proper customer support for their devices, which in this case is mainly about updates, whether it’s security updates or feature updates.