[Opinion] Nokia’s Android OS software update timeliness getting worse with each iteration

Anyone born in the early 90s and before is well aware of the greatness that was Nokia mobile phones. To date, you won’t find any smartphone that lasts as long as the original Nokia 3310 on a single charge.

This is despite the massive 5000mAh and even 6000mAh battery units found in modern-day smartphones compared to the minute 900mAh unit used in the Nokia 3310.

But as we all know, these glory days are long gone and Nokia, despite its efforts to stay afloat in the market thanks to Google’s Android One platform, is no longer the force it was in the mobile phone industry.

Nokia-Android-One

By going the Android One route, Nokia hoped that its software update policy would place it in a unique position to leverage on its brand name to propel its comeback to the mobile phone industry.

While at first things seemed to be going according to plan, the same cannot be said of Nokia and its software update efforts more than two years down the line.

For the uninitiated, Android has come a long way. At the time Nokia was making a comeback, plenty of stick was being thrown at non-Google vendors for their lack of effort when it comes to timely software updates.

In Android One, a program that guarantees timely software updates on a monthly basis for three years and at least two major Android OS updates released on time, Nokia found what seemed like the perfect match.

Android-One-Logo-Inline-1

During the first year in Android One, Nokia devices were characterized by timely monthly security updates and when the time came, the Nokia 7 Plus was among the first devices to bag the update to Android 9 Pie.

One of the reasons behind the timely release of Android Pie for the Nokia 7 Plus was its participation in the Developer Preview program.

As a result, the stable Pie update rolled out about a month and a half after Google Pixels, thus further cementing the renowned Nokia brand in the hearts of doubters.

In fact, data published by Counterpoint Research a year later revealed that Nokia phones were the fastest to receive the update to Android Pie, just like was the case coming from Nougat to Oreo, beating the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei to the crown.

Nokia-Android-OS-updates

Click/tap to view (Source)

By the time Counterpoint Research published this data, Google was almost done with testing Android 10 and guess what, Nokia also had a device in the program – this time the Nokia 8.1.

Having had access to Android Q since May, HMD was able to roll out the stable version of Android 10 to the Nokia 8.1 towards mid-October 2019.

Nokia-8.1-Android-Q-developer-preview

(Source)

Compared to Android Pie, it took a slightly shorter period between Google rolling out Android 10 to the Pixels and HMD pushing the same update to the Nokia 8.1. This all but pointed to an even brighter future.

But then things started going backwards in 2020. To be fair, pretty much the entire world was taken aback, but for HMD and Nokia, the hit seems to have been harder.

The company had to redraw its Android 10 rollout plans due to COVID-19, resulting in prolonged delays for devices like the Nokia 7.2, Nokia 6.2, Nokia 5.1 Plus, Nokia 2.1, Nokia 3.1, Nokia 5.1, and others.

Sure, all eligible Nokia devices have since been upgraded to Android 10, but it took much longer to migrate these devices to the said OS compared to its predecessor. As it is, this was a missed red flag.

Nokia-5.1-story

Nokia 5.1 received Android 10 in October 2020

Another red flag was when Google announced Android 11 Developer Preview and no Nokia device appeared on the list, bringing to an end a run of two consecutive years of participating in the program.

These were perhaps early signs of things going from good to bad real quick. With no device in the beta program, it meant Nokia was always going to struggle with the timely rollout of the stable Android 11.

And indeed, as I write this, not long after celebrating the New Year 2021 and only 4 months after Google Pixels got it, there is still no Nokia device that has received Android 11 update, beta or stable.

Not even its latest premium offering — the Nokia 8.3.5G — which has also been tagged by the company as “Android 11-ready”, has yet to see this update.

Nokia-8.3-5G-Android-11-ready-2

Nokia 8.3 5G is tagged as “Android 11 ready” by the OEM

With all due respect, all these doesn’t sound like good stuff coming from a company that burst to the scene on the promise of providing timely Android OS and security updates.

Couple this with the fact that Nokia devices run on Android One and its easy to conclude that not only has Nokia slowed down with timeliness of OS updates, but it looks like Android One is also on its knees.

Nokia revealed its Android 11 roadmap a few weeks ago and going by it, the new OS should at least be available for the Nokia 8.3 5G, Nokia 8.1, Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 2.2 by now. But with not even the beta to show off, the wait is still on.

For how longer no one knows, but what is surely standing out is that Nokia is no longer the force it was when it comes to rolling out timely Android OS updates. What do you think? Share your opinion bu voting in the following Twitter poll:

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