HMD Global is struggling to update Nokia phones to Android 11

HMD Global is struggling to update Nokia phones to Android 11

HMD Global released the first batch of Nokia-branded Android phones as affordable devices with frequent and fast Android OS updates. The company delivered on that promise for a few years, but as its product lineup has ballooned in size (there are already seven phones for 2021), HMD has struggled to maintain a speedy update cycle. Now the company is delaying Android 11 updates for most of its phones.

HMD originally announced its timeline to deliver Android 11 updates in October of last year. At the time, three Nokia phones were expected to receive Android 11 before the start of 2021, with the rest of the recent product lineup to follow in the first half of 2021. That timeline was already a bit slow, considering HMD Global doesn’t make many significant changes to the Android operating system, but HMD couldn’t even maintain that schedule. The Nokia 8.3 5G was the company’s first device to get Android 11, and its update came in February instead of Q4 2020.

HMD Global has now published an updated Android 11 roadmap, reflecting the delayed timelines. Updates for most Nokia phones have been pushed forward by a quarter — for example, the Nokia 6.2 is now estimated to get Android 11 in the third quarter of 2021, instead of the previous Q2 ETA. Meanwhile, the Nokia 5.3 (picture above) was expected to get the update sometime in Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 but is now expected to get the update sometime later this quarter.

HMD didn’t mention why its timeline for updates is slipping, but a possible reason is that the company itself doesn’t control most of the hardware and software for its phones. Most Nokia-branded phones are developed and manufactured by external ODMs, which are responsible for maintaining software support. A report from Omdia in 2020 pointed out that the majority of Nokia-branded smartphones were designed by ODMs, with Lenovo, OPPO, and Xiaomi also selling large numbers of ODM-designed phones.

No matter where the fault lies, it’s not a promising sign that HMD Global’s Android phones are struggling to receive system updates, especially when its original promises weren’t spectacular to begin with. HMD’s 2020 Android flagship for the United States, the Nokia 8.3 5G UW, is only guaranteed to receive one more update after Android 11. Meanwhile, Samsung is delivering three years of OS updates and four years of security patches for most of its phones.

Featured image: the Nokia 5.3

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Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's also written for Android Police and PC Gamer. Get in touch with him at [email protected]