In theory, Android 13 can be installed on all smartphones (even old ones)

In theory, Android 13 can be installed on all smartphones (even old ones)

Phones that don’t meet the minimum requirements won’t be able to upgrade to Android 13. But when you look at those requirements…all smartphones (even old ones) are technically eligible. Why can’t Android 13 be found on all smartphones in this case?

samsung galaxy s7 edge

Android 13 is now available, Google has made its source code available through AOSP (Android Open Source Project), Google Pixels also benefit from the latest version of Android.

Waiting to see Android 13 on more devices, Google has communicated the minimum features of this new version.

These recommendations have been greatly revised upwards, the minimum amount of storage is now at least 16 GB (instead of 8 GB), while RAM is 2 GB (instead of 1 GB).

android 13
Source: Google

This seems very low at first glance, but Android is a system that adapts to many devices, not just smartphones.

It also means that technically, almost all smartphones in circulation can run Android 13, including the cheapest and even multi-year smartphones. So in this case, why isn’t the new update being rolled out in bulk?

The long update process

When a manufacturer ports a new version of Android, many individual steps are required. Each of them is costly in time and money. Mobile operators also have a role to play in the upgrade process as they need to assess the effects features and changes will have on their networks.

The versions of Android distributed by Google under the name AOSP (Android open source project) cannot work as is on a smartphone. The manufacturer of the SoC (System on a Chip) present in the smartphone adds the necessary software components, including the ” pilots Then the smartphone manufacturer adds other software elements, to account for components like the display, sensors, and camera modules.

If a manufacturer offers its own software interface, such as Samsung, Oppo, Honor, Xiaomi, etc., this adds time to the migration.

A_UI_5_Beta_main2
One UI 5 on Samsung smartphones running Android 13

Also, if you want to license Google apps and have access to Google’s “Android” trademark, you’ll need to comply with Google’s policies. This requires several expensive and time-consuming tests.

These steps are long and expensive, it is one of the main obstacles for the deployment of new versions of Android on old smartphones. But that’s not the only problem.

Old devices are abandoned…

As explained, updating an Android device doesn’t just mean grafting Android code to a device. You must install a number of additional software components and perform various validation steps. This is where it can crash on older devices.

We can criticize the manufacturers regarding their update policy, but what about their suppliers? In fact, smartphones like the Nothing Phone (1) will not be updated to Android 13 before 2023. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+ SoC is to blame. This is not a performance issue, however, it is Qualcomm’s monitoring of this platform.

In theory, from 2022, Qualcomm has announced that it will guarantee four versions of the Android operating system and four years of security updates for all Snapdragon platforms using Project Treble improvements.

In practice, Qualcomm launched its first smartphone, priced at $1,500 in an Asus-designed device that is supposedly aimed at the geekiest of Snapdragon fans. Well… this smartphone is already way behind on Android updates as well as security updates. It is still equipped with Android 11, while several manufacturers have started serious work on the implementation of Android 13.

fairphone-2-chez-orange-2
The Fairphone 2 is repairable // Source: Frandroid

Everyone is affected by this problem, including the best students. Fairphone, which promises 8 years of updates to its phones, explained that upgrading the Fairphone 2 had become very expensive. In question, the end of Qualcomm’s support for its Snapdragon 801 SoC. Imagine simply downloading the open source version of Android, AOSP (Android open source project), that would be too easy. Fairphone was forced to develop its own custom drivers for Qualcomm Snapdragon.

In short, if you do not have Android 13, it is not only explained by the manufacturers’ update policies. This is also related to the abandonment of component support by their vendors. In particular, SoCs, which are a centerpiece of smartphones.

European regulators want to change the rules

Regulators at the European Commission want to change the habits of smartphone manufacturers. The latter could be obliged to provide 15 types of spare parts for five years, as well as provide software updates. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of these products.

In this bill, it has been pointed out that manufacturers will have to provide security updates for at least five years, and feature updates “For three years.


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