arsTechnica has put together a handy look at which manufacturers & carriers are quickest and slowest to roll out an Android update on their older devices. Using the KitKat launch date of 31st October 2013, arsTechnica measured how long it took for the earliest available OTA update for devices originally sold with an earlier version of Android, starting with the previous-generation flagship devices.
The winner for update times is, of course, the Nexus line. Stock software and a head start from being Google got KitKat out the door in just 14 days.
As for everyone else, how quickly they update seems to depend on how complicated their skin is and how much they take advantage of the update mechanisms Google has created …
Motorola’s close-to-stock Android skin gave it a clear advantage, with the first OTA update for the Moto X available just four days after the two weeks it took Google to make KitKat available on the Nexus 4.
HTC took a month, with arsTechnica observing that the company has made update speed a priority, with a promise to make Android L available to all M7 and M8 models within 90 days of release – and also guaranteeing to keep updating its flagship handsets for two years after launch.
Samsung was criticized for its “monolithic skin,” leading to long delays for updated versions – the Galaxy S4 not getting a KitKat update until 3.7 months later. The site is no more a fan of TouchWiz than we are, it appears.
Samsung uses a heavy monolithic skin with none of the update-friendly architecture that is employed by its competitors. TouchWiz extensively modifies the Android framework to make things like split screen apps, pen input, and floating windows possible. It skins every area of the OS and maintains a plethora of apps that duplicate Google functionality while providing seemingly little benefit to the user.
LG took last place, with a 4.6 month wait for KitKat on its flagship G2, panned for the same reason as Samsung and described by arsTechnica as making “a minimal effort” in terms of update speed.
The site also compared carriers:
The full, three-page piece also covers non-flagship devices, and delves into all the permutations of device and carrier, together with some more specific advice on how to ensure you get the quickest updates. It’s worth the read.