In Depth

When will your phone get Android O? A data-driven guide

Wondering when Android O will make its way to your device? Let data guide your guess.

When Will Phone Get Android O
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With Google's Android O release expected to arrive any week now, the question on everyone's mind is: When will my phone get Android O?

It's a common question here in the land o' Android — and unfortunately, it's become a tough one to answer. After years of missed deadlines and broken promises, most Android manufacturers have just stopped making specific commitments altogether. (Hey, that's one way to handle it, right?) And most of 'em, as I've learned from closely tracking upgrade delivery performance since Android's earliest days, do a pretty shoddy job at getting new software into users' hands.

So what can you expect when Android O rolls out into the world? The truth, by and large, is that no one can say for sure. What we can do, however, is look to the various device-makers' recent performance with Android upgrades as a general guide to what sorts of timelines seem likely.

Now, let's not kid ourselves: A company's priorities can certainly shift, and the past doesn't necessarily dictate the future. In broad terms, though, most manufacturers tend to be relatively consistent with how much emphasis they place on timely ongoing software support. Looking at a company's recent performance can give you a good overview of how it typically approaches this area — and give you the most data-driven and educated guess you're gonna get about when Android O might realistically reach your device.

So, enough jibber-jabber: Here's the lowdown on how the major Android manufacturers have done with upgrades for current and previous-gen flagships as of late — and what that suggests when it comes to Android O. (Note that this information is all U.S.-specific and based upon when each upgrade first showed up on any broadly-available-in-the-States model of a particular phone.)

Google

Current flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 0 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 0 days
  • Two-year average: 0 days

Previous-gen flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 42 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 0 days
  • Two-year average: 21 days

What this data suggests about Android O

Even with the occasional delay, Google always makes timely upgrades a priority for its own Pixel and Nexus phones. If you're carrying the Pixel, there's a very strong chance you'll get Android O within days of its release.

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If you've got the previous-gen Nexus 5X or 6P, you might end up waiting a teensy bit longer, depending on how things go — but your odds of a speedy delivery are still pretty darn high.

(Of note: Google typically sends out software "in waves," meaning a subset of users gets the upgrade every day over the course of a few weeks — so it's possible your wait could end up being slightly longer than the bare-minimum, even with all factors seeming equal. But if the past is any indication, the actual rollouts are likely to begin extremely quickly, and it shouldn't take terribly long from that point for them to make their way around the world.)

HTC

Current flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 95 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 80 days
  • Two-year average: 87.5 days

Previous-gen flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 105 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 59 days
  • Two-year average: 82 days

What this data suggests about Android O

HTC started slipping in its upgrade delivery time with last year's Nougat release, as the numbers above show — but all in all, it's still doing better than everyone other than Google when it comes to getting fresh software onto its users' phones. If you've got 2017's HTC U11, the smart money's on a three-ish month wait for Android O to arrive on your device.

If 2016's HTC 10 is in your pocket, your wait might be a touch longer — but somewhere in the ballpark of three to four months is still a sensible guess based on the last two years of upgrade delivery data.

LG

Current flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 91 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 80 days
  • Two-year average: 85.5 days

Previous-gen flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: Still waiting (!)
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 135 days
  • Two-year average: 244 days (if the Nougat upgrade were to happen today — so likely even more)

What this data suggests about Android O

Let's make it easy, shall we? If you've got an LG phone, don't hold your breath. Past data suggests it'll take LG a few months, give or take, to get Android O onto the U.S. versions of its current LG G6 flagship.

As for the previous-gen LG G5 flagship? Yeah...good luck with that.

Motorola (Lenovo)

Current flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 88 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 65 days
  • Two-year average: 76.5 days

Previous-gen flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: Still waiting (!)
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 74 days
  • Two-year average: 213.5 days (if the Nougat upgrade were to happen today — so likely even more)

What this data suggests about Android O

The former king of Android upgrades doesn't exactly scramble with its software rollouts anymore, especially when it comes to previous-gen devices. Two to three months would be a reasonable bet for Android O timing on the company's just-launched Moto Z2 Force flagship, whereas the 2016 Moto Z flagship could fall anywhere from a few months to an eternity.

Samsung

Current flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 179 days
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 155 days (Galaxy S6/Note 5 average)
  • Two-year average: 167 days

Previous-gen flagship performance

  • Length of time for Android Nougat delivery: 230 days (Galaxy S6/Note 5 average)
  • Length of time for Android Marshmallow delivery: 179 days (Galaxy S5/Note 4 average)
  • Two-year average: 204.5 days

What this data suggests about Android O

Samsung has never made timely Android upgrades a priority. Whether you have a current flagship or a previous-gen model, don't be surprised if you end up waiting a solid several months to see Android O on your Galaxy device.

Hey, what about all the other Android phones?!

Over time, I've opted to focus my data on flagship phones by the major Android manufacturers. Flagship phones are understandably where companies devote the most resources — and, given their pricing, where we as users can reasonably expect the highest levels of post-sales support.

Some midrange phones may get major updates like Android O eventually, but it'll probably be a good ways down the road. With budget-level devices, your expectations should be even lower. If you have a budget-level phone and get the upgrade at all, consider yourself lucky.

And as for manufacturers beyond the majors outlined above? In general, the smaller a company is, the more limited its resources will be. It's pretty rare for a little player to deliver an upgrade within the first few months of its release, but some smaller manufacturers do manage to get rollouts en route after several months have gone by. OnePlus, for instance, provided Nougat to its $400-range OnePlus 3 and 3T flagships a little over four months after the software's arrival while ZTE sent Nougat to its similarly priced Axon 7 about five-and-a-half months after the OS's launch.

A few final factors to consider

As I mentioned at the start of this story, the data used throughout this analysis is specific to the U.S. Upgrade timing often does vary from country to country, so keep that in mind if you're located elsewhere in our wide, wild world.

The data also focuses on when each upgrade first reached a flagship model that's readily available in the U.S. — either a carrier-connected model or an unlocked version of the phone, if such a product is sold by the manufacturer and readily available to U.S. consumers. And that brings up another significant point: Carriers are a complicating layer between Android software and you. They regularly add delays and extra variability into the process — another oh-so-fun reality of this realm — so if your phone was purchased through a carrier as opposed to directly from a manufacturer, know that that may affect your delivery time as well.

Last but not least, some critical perspective: On Android in particular, upgrades aren't everything. Google has taken meaningful steps to make OS-level updates less all-important for the platform, and consequently, an OS upgrade on Android is not equal in weight to an OS upgrade on iOS.

That being said, if timely and reliable ongoing upgrades are important to you, you most certainly can have them. Google's own Pixel phones are designed in part to address that demand. The devices receive software updates quickly, frequently, and directly from Google, without any meddling from middlemen along the way. It's a holistic arrangement, and the end result speaks for itself.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. But now, as we look forward to Android O's rapidly approaching arrival, you can at least make an educated guess about what to expect with the device you have.

NEXT: Hands on with Android O's most useful features

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